According to researchers at the University of Missouri, organizations need to keep an eye on online comments during a crisis. We agree. The study states
“With the increasing pervasiveness of social media and online communication in the operation of most organizations and corporations, little is known about the potential effects of public expressions of anger displayed throughout various online sources.”
I’m not sure I agree so much with this statement. I think anyone who has been in the game for a while knows that whether accurate or not, online conversations play a huge role in a company’s reputation. Angry customers speak loudly and their voices carry with the help of social networks.
Bo Kyung Kim, the doctoral student in charge of the study, measured participants’ perceptions of four automobile companies both before and after reading a news story about a crisis followed by a variety of negative Twitter and message board posts and Facebook comments responding to each individual crisis situation. The comments and posts came from both the general public and the perceived victims of the scenarios. While platform didn’t have any bearing on sentiment, the comments had a very large effect.
“Victims have higher credible perceptions for readers so I would definitely suggest that organizations should pay closer attention to content created by perceived victims of the crisis than content created by an anonymous source,” Kim said. “We found that negative messages created by victims significantly increased the negative reputation of an organization, and were more likely to result in boycotts against the organization than when it was sourced to unaffected individuals.”
Again, no surprise here, but this is a good reminder for corporations to pay attention to what is being said about them online, especially on the social channels. Long gone are the days of the little guy not having a voice. Corporations, time to rethink the way you handle crisis!