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The critical role of social media in crisis communication.

1. Introduction

The development of social networking technologies is influencing the network communications fabric and the manners we interact with each other. Users of information are concurrently contributors of information (Popescu Ljungholm, 2015a, b, c), by that supplying the ground for user-generated media. The news of a crisis can be (re)distributed, attaining millions of individuals without the intervening occurrence of journalists. Communicators can adopt social media instruments to more effectively handle a crisis. New media tools may stimulate readiness, knowledge, and participation (Pera, 2015a, b; 2014) in crisis reaction by making the matter observable and interactive. Social media can ask persons to self-identify as backers of the entity. Setting up how the entity aims to involve social media throughout policy constitution can expand communication chances and reduce the clutter and inaccuracies liable to take place in the thick of the crisis. (Veil et al., 2011)

2. The Features of Social Networking Technologies that Are of Special Applicability to Crisis Communication

The self-sourcing of information by individuals provides access to a broader series of information but it may constitute difficult tasks for the official regulation and synchronization of information. Persons via better personalization of their social media platforms may prefer only to use information comparable to their own opinions (Constantin, 2015), therefore acquiring a restricted worldview, notwithstanding whether the information they get is accurate. Social networking technologies facilitate the swift and available distribution of information via both established and unofficial routes. Social media compresses a new trend of digital communication and content distribution between persons and entities. (Branicki and Agyei, 2015) The recognition of social media and their function in many events globally have generated new concerns related to crisis communication approaches. The function of conventional leadership furthered by government entities and mainstream media channels (Popescu, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013) is altered within social media: on account of hyperlinked networks and the receptiveness of posted messages, the latter is a media outlet for instantly communicating significant information before it is announced in the mainstream media. The arrival of social media has met the audience's demand for personal and direct communication and in addition for information regarding their safety and prosperity throughout crises. (Cho et al., 2013)

The importance of crisis communication builds on the conviction that the messages will have beneficial consequences on crisis publics, thus assisting the entity. The feedbacks of crisis publics furnish evaluations of communication strength. Intended outcomes from crisis communication endeavors encompass reducing reputational harm from a crisis, preserving buying intention, and hindering adverse word-of-mouth. The development of social media has supplied unrestricted places for other opinions (Lazaroiu, 2013; 2012; 2011), besides the entity's position, to announce the crisis and crisis-associated messages. How individuals behave to the crisis response approaches implies approval or rebuff of the crisis account. (Coombs and Holladay, 2014) Effortless alteration of information is an outstanding boon of employing new media instruments in bracing oneself for a crisis. Social media platforms are especially appropriate for mass observance as they supply a feed that presents dialogues of countless individuals at any precise moment. Communicating with wireless audiences as component of a relationship-building operation (Popescu and Predescu, 2016) enables permanent connectedness, which can be performed even in an unforeseen event. Entities can both collect user-generated material from social network web sites and employ the platform for transmitting information back to consumers. Replying to the audience belittles gossips and defends reputations. Crises can be reduced via swift counteraction through the straightness of new media. Online communities may self-correct false rumor before organizational voices have the opportunity to react. (Veil et al., 2011)

3. The Relevance of Social Media as a Communication Instrument throughout Crisis Management Events

Individuals' capacity to produce content and distribute knowledge is the essential shaping characteristic of social networking. Social networking technologies may assist in ground-breaking and swifter fashions of information exchange (Popescu et al., 2016) between first answerers, emergency supervisors and users, e.g. the crowdsourcing of data, regarding a crisis event in progress. The capacity of official emergency communication supervisors to handle the account of a crisis is reduced by social media. Mobile technologies are a key component of making social media significant to crisis management. Involving more pro-actively with social media may provide chances for collecting comprehensive information from observers immediately. Emergency management entities may utilize the social component of social media by involving the audience straightaway in their own improvement and reaction or by enabling the audience to self-organize. (Branicki and Agyei, 2015) Social media consumers are more inclined to depend on peer-to-peer interaction and information-led websites throughout crises than they are on established media outlets. Various types and channels of information supplied by government entities are relevant in constituting crisis-communication schemes: the arrival of social media has furthered established leadership, comprising central and local governments' official declarations, via the employment of direct communication with persons for the purpose of handling vitiated topdown communication arrangements (Mihaila et al., 2016) in crisis communication. Social media enable consumers to successfully preserve undeveloped and unsatisfactory relationships, and thus individuals may consider that they have expanded their social networks with essential information. (Cho et al., 2013)

Crises can harm organizational reputations (Popescu and Ciurlau, 2016) by bringing about adverse public messages regarding the entity (social media messages may create outstanding effects on corporate reputations). Social media comments by audiences constitute a component of the messages that influence post-crisis organizational reputations. Negative comments can boost the reputational harm (Mihaila, 2011) while positive comments can assist in moderating the reputational harm for the entity in crisis. Social media messages produced by crisis publics may either serve or damage the entity in crisis on account of their capacity to influence assessments of organizational reputations. (Coombs and Holladay, 2014) Crisis communicators should manifest integrity, fair-mindedness, and receptiveness to hinder the audience from accepting less-reliable sources for information. Organizations should be accessible with generous information through social media channels before a crisis to make sure that information seekers identify the correct sources while examining the social sphere. Before the rise of a crisis, intercommunicating with other established sources is indispensable to guarantee coherent messages. Association through traditional social sites is crucial. Working with reliable sources through social media can harmonize the capacity to both reach broad publics (Nica and Potcovaru 2015a, b, c) and achieve their confidence. Notwithstanding the fragmentation of news channels, introducing narratives into the mainstream media is anyway decisive. On account of the confidence that individuals have with social media in addition to its generality and swiftness, several mainstream channels and entities have included their own social networks. While web-based editorial offices have an ambivalent reputation, reaching mainstream media can be improved via social media technologies. As social media is a multimodal, colloquial, and effortlessly updatable platform, editorial offices can be active and dialogic via practice. (Veil et al., 2011)

4. The Degree to which the Constitution and Acceptance of Social Networking Technologies Influence Established Modes of Government to Citizen Communication

The notion of digital community backers may be an impactful manner of local authority emergency planning groups increasing both their knowledge (Nica, 2015a, b) and reach in association with social media. Social networking technologies generate virtual spaces in which data can be shared with reliable participants, transmitted to the publics or exchanged via mutual and chiefly unofficial and self-regulated processes. The significant degree of horizontal adaptability manifested by social media creates both chances and difficult tasks for emergency managers as both inaccurate and accurate information may bring about adverse outputs in practice. (Branicki and Agyei, 2015) Established information outlets may preserve their function as a one-way communication route, while peer-to-peer communication routes and websites supplying peer-generated material tend to go on furthering interactive communication among persons. Government entities can fortify their leadership in crisis communication by altering their present crisis-management schemes into suitable measures (Nicolaescu, 2015) concentrating on peer-to-peer communication contingent upon person-level leadership. (Cho et al., 2013)

The positively inclined audiences will disregard the adverse information generated by the crisis and preserve their optimistic opinions of the entity in crisis. Crisis managers should establish whether or not their generally positively inclined audiences are preserved throughout crises that cause grave, adverse consequences (Peters, 2015) for the entity and its stakeholders. Crisis managers can detect positively inclined audiences in organizationally subsidized social media outlets. Positively inclined audiences may be more compliant of crisis narratives than other audiences as they are helpful of the entity preceding the crisis. (Coombs and Holladay, 2014) As citizengenerated information is a substitute to public relations-transmitted news, persisting attainable to the media via social media is essential. In the sphere of user-generated content, acceptance and involvement with important social media actors is decisive in reaching and affecting stakeholders (Nica, 2013), whom public members consider reliable. Social media was devised to link individuals to others in the most effective and personal fashion, being a tempting way of communication for persons who have undergone a crisis (Petcu, 2015) and supplies an exemplary channel for crisis communicators to show sympathy, and consideration. Employing a blog or another direct-toaudience social platform, an entity can talk unswervingly to its stakeholders without being separated out. The direct and real-time character of social media and the actively personal touch via photo and video sharing and talking makes it a consummate complementary point of contact between stakeholders and crisis communicators. (Veil et al., 2011)

5. Conclusions

Emergency managers searching for information can reach individuals on the setting of a crisis through social media. New media entails a fragmentation of concerns and publics: fragmentation signifies that employing numerous elements of new media guarantees that various groups of persons are contacted (Bondrea and Stefanescu-Mihaila, 2014a, b), but the endeavor necessitated to post to these diverse routes is negligible. New technologies enable the whole online community to get information that may generate more difficulties (Mircica, 2014) for individuals assigned to handle a crisis. If crisis communicators prefer not to be part of the online forum, the dialogue on the crisis will advance via social media without the entity's view being heard. (Veil et al., 2011)

Received 17 November 2015 * Received in revised form 12 February 2016 Accepted 13 February 2016 * Available online 20 May 2016


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Author:Bratu, Sofia
Publication:Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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