Microblogging exploded onto the Chinese Internet scene in 2010. As an important social media and online communications platform, microblogs have come to play a pivotal role not only in brand marketing but also in breaking and amplifying crises and scandals. It became clear in 2012 that microblogs are now the main platform for disseminating news and guiding public opinion. How far a crisis spreads and how long it lingered on microblogs determined the crisis’ severity. If the news isn’t on Chinese microblogs, then it hasn’t reached crisis level yet.
To build on the success of the first white paper released in January 2011, Ogilvy PR and CIC have jointly released this second white paper, 2012 Crisis Management in the Microblog Era,‛ which explores how brands, companies and agencies can better understand and leverage social media platforms in times of crisis.
The “2012 Crisis Management in the Microblog Era” white paper is a statistical analysis of 50 Chinese brand crises from 2012, based on an evaluation of each crisis according to key elements of crisis management in the microblog era. The key takeaways are as follow:
· The shorter the response time, the better
If a brand responds within 8 hours, the crisis duration and negative buzz will be the lowest. Responding within 24 hours will shorten the crisis duration and minimize negative influence. If the first response time is more than 24 hours after a crisis outbreak, then there will be an obvious extension of the crisis duration. It is crucial to have a crisis management system in place ahead of the crisis and prepare for different scenarios to respond effectively and efficiently to curb the spread of negative buzz at the outbreak of a crisis.
· It works best when senior executives respond directly
When the suitability of the response tone increases by 1 percent, the proportion of negative buzz decreases by 0.5 percent. A direct response from high level executives is more effective than a response from low level employees. Now that microblogs have become a major communications platform for corporate spokespeople, relevant trainings need to be offered to them. A company’s crisis management system should be standardized and apply to all staff to prevent individual employee misconduct at the time of a crisis response and avoid causing more harm.
• Using an official microblog account can help manage a crisis
Brands that had active official microblog accounts before the crisis were able to reduce the response time by around 12 hours, decrease the crisis duration by an average of 2 days and reduce the proportion of negative buzz. Brands should set up an official microblog account as early as possible, and integrate all of their owned social media resources into their crisis management systems, as a quick and effective response requires a nimble and local structure.
CIC CEO Daisy Zhang, said, “In 2012, crises in the microblog era contained similar trends as those in 2011, including the communication speed, channels, tones, and feedback, while new characteristics have also emerged. We chose 50 brand crises based on how much buzz it created on microblogs as trending topics and conducted an inductive analysis of them. We hope the business implications offered in this report will help companies to better manage crises on microblogs with flexibility.”