Social Media Meltdown: Tweeting Your Way Into and Out of a Crisis

Crisis communications was never black and white, but the proliferation of social media platforms has caused the shades of gray to get even hazier—so much so, in fact, that it can be difficult to distinguish between a tiny flame that will extinguish itself and a full-blown forest fire. Twitter —by no means new to the scene, but having taken center stage only recently—makes it even harder to define “crisis,” as a less-than-140-character complaint can slide under the radar just as easily as it can prompt a reputation meltdown.

It’s a lesson companies like Comcast learned the hard way, but one that’s led to marked improvements on the online crisis management front. After falling victim to a Twitter tirade by unhappy customers, Comcast pioneered a new customer service strategy by tweeting back. And why not? After all, social media platforms like Twitter enable instantaneous responses from communications executives, and “instantaneous” is key when it comes to squashing rumors or correcting erroneous information.

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