Why don’t Vietnamese companies use social media in a crisis?

A previous article talked about why Vietnamese companies should use social media more for crisis communication. Now we’ll explore some reasons why they don’t, and why most of those are mistaken.


1. They want to distance themselves from the crisis

Oftentimes, companies believe that by staying out of the fray they can ignore the controversy and it will die down on its own. But in fact, information avoidance is the least effective method of crisis management. That’s especially true in this age of social media posts which don’t just vanish into the ether but catch on and spread, gaining more interested followers (and bandwagon jumpers) as they go. Not only does attempting to ignore a crisis make it look like a company doesn’t care about its stakeholders, but also social media users who don’t receive a response (or receive an insufficient response) are more likely to stage campaigns and boycotts against the company. Sincere, open communication is exactly what stakeholders want, and it’s what will allow them to forgive a company and move on.

2. They believe using social media means giving up control

In some ways it’s true that print media offers greater message control: organizations can craft a definitive response to a crisis and direct all attention there, and there’s no chance of it getting taken over by hostile voices. Where it fails is timeliness and public perception. While the company is asking people to wait for their official word, the crisis may already be spiraling to uncontrollable levels. And if the stakeholders believe the official message fails to address their concerns, the company can look cold and out of touch.

3. They don’t believe it’s seen as trustworthy

With the spread of fake news and rumors-as-news on social media, it’s no surprise that companies believe that the platform is corrupt, and nothing they say on it will be trusted. But in facts, stakeholders indicate that they are well aware of this and will usually double-check news shared or claims made on social media before choosing to believe it.

4. They don’t want to make the effort

Less tech-savvy companies may believe that using social media to control a crisis will require a lot of extra effort. But PR experts generally believe this is not the case. Especially if the company is already engaged in social media platforms, crisis management can become an extension of this, and potentially prevent a crisis from ever occurring. The problem occurs if…

5. They’re not prepared

The speed of social media is one of its key advantages, but it can be a curse for the under-prepared business. A crisis that is rapidly unfolding online leaves no time to form a task force and create procedures to address it. Businesses should already have a team who know their duties and have guidelines on how to form and spread the company’s message long before a crisis occurs.

By: Clāra Ly-Le, Managing Director of EloQ Communications (formerly Vero IMC Vietnam). Clāra is a senior public relations consultant who has been involved in multiple national and regional PR campaigns in Vietnam. She is also a PhD candidate at Bond University, Australia. Her research interests include crisis management, intercultural communication, and new media communication.

(X-posted on Clāra’s blog)

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