Crises today are not what they used to be

What to do while social networks are burning with negative comments?

3 min to read
Written by: Marina Čulić Fischer


Crises are nothing new in the communication business. They have affected the corporate world forever, and politics is not immune to them either. Nowadays, crises, on the other hand, are very different from the ones that were happening five or ten years ago. Main reasons for that are – you guessed it already – social networks.


We live in the “cancel” culture – get used to it. 


Social networks are fertile ground for “hate” and “cancel” cultures because of the screens of mobile phones or computers. Screens provide comfortable anonymity to platform users.

While observing crises of different brands, companies, and organizations lately, I came to a few conclusions:

Influencers or “ordinary” people can also stir up the crisis whose source is on one of the social networks. Considering their reach and influence, situations that are encouraged by influencers usually have long-term effects and faster dynamics. We all remember the tweet by Kylie Jenner from 2018. when she wrote that she was not happy with the redesign of the popular Snapchat. After her tweet, Snapchat lost 6 % in stock market value. Expressed in money, it was 1.3 billion dollars. The creators of harmful content often don’t think about all dimensions of their posts.

Moreover, their harmful content sometimes does not align with their personal opinion. The consequences of these posts can be grave. Although Facebook and Twitter once were the best channels for “cancel” culture, today, they have dangerous competition – Instagram and TikTok. If you are into communication management, you should remember that the service which monitors Instagram stories does not exist in Croatia.


You can communicate with the media through social networks


Once a crisis reaches critical mass (often in a few hours), it is inevitable for it to expand into the mainstream media (in the initial market, very often, potentially, it can grow to global media). Different news portals will likely publish the crisis even though they rarely publish news from companies or brands. TV companies or radio stations may be interested in a publishing crisis. You can count that the media will contact you for a statement.

As in every other crisis, it is essential to send a public apology as soon as possible, regardless of the circumstances. Logically, you need to publish the apology related to the situation on social media on the same channel where it occurred. If the crisis were transferred to mainstream media, there would be no need to apologize for every redaction because the journalists would find it on social media. Remember that the apology will probably get you even more posts, which may not be ideal, but it is a risk you have to take.    


The context is always the most important.



Be prepared for the fact that an apology will not significantly improve the public’s negative sentiment. However, it may encourage another wave of negative comments, but it will be lighter than the first one.

One thing that did not change is that even “modern” crises last, on average, 48 hours if they are managed well. Unfortunately, that does not mean everything is good again after 48 hours. It means you have to think about when, where, and how you will continue communicating. Some brands/companies/organizations or political parties continue to sound like nothing has happened; sometimes, it could be a good choice. Others take specific measures and restart their communication activities subtly. How you should take it depends on your communication team’s context and proposal. By all means, you will remember the crisis long after the public forgets about it.


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