Social Media Transparency During a Crisis

social media crisis

By Emily Juhnke

Transparency is a critical element for companies to consider on social media. It is important to reveal certain information in order to earn and maintain the trust of key publics. This lets your audience recognize that you care and respect them enough to get them the information that they want and need to know. Being both upfront and honest can help in building positive relationships with two-way communication and interaction.

In Chapter 9 of Likeable, Kerpen writes, “You must be as honest and transparent as possible when using social media.”

A crisis is one situation in which it is critical for a company to be transparent with their publics.

Making excuses, shying away from answering questions, and trying to cover up important information will only further damage your reputation and potentially lengthen the crisis. It is critical to acknowledge the crisis, let your audience know that you care and are making steps to solve the problem, and deliver them the information they need and deserve to know.

Some companies have done this excellently and are great examples of how to use social media in the time of a crisis.

The article, 3 great examples of crisis management on social media, illustrates ways that several companies appropriately and effectively used transparency during a crisis situation. The first company highlighted in the article, Southwest Airlines, had a fast and open response via social media when one of their flights landed nose-down at an airport. They acknowledged the situation right away and kept their audience up to date as it developed.

Unfortunately, not all companies use social media productively during a crisis. Sometimes it seems that there are actually more bad examples out there than good ones. The article, 11 examples of bad social media crisis management, has some great examples of bad social media crisis management.

The blog post, How to Respond to a Social Media Crisis, states “Your very first public statement of the crisis will set the tone for how your brand is perceived throughout it – so show sensitivity, and humility if appropriate, and ensure that people know they are your first priority.”

When in doubt, be transparent.

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  1. The example from JC Penny is hilarious and dangerous ground. I’m glad that they didn’t have a huge fight with some people over that tweet. I’m also happy that the Red Cross understood the mistake and didn’t terminate the employee.

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