Twitter’s Growing Importance in Crisis Communications


According to new research from media monitoring platform Visibrain, conducted in partnership with Nicolas Vanderbiest, a crisis communications specialist at the University of Leuven, an overwhelming majority (94%) of crisis either start or spread on Twitter. The study highlights the importance of Twitter in both the start and spread of crises and the way in which people respond.

More than 100 of the biggest PR disasters from the last year were examined and it has been concluded that in nearly every case, Twitter had either started the crisis or helped make it significantly worse.

Throughout the year, 19% of PR crises broke on Twitter, making the platform more influential than Facebook (16%), YouTube (4%), and blogs (4%). Consumers were also significantly more likely to criticize brands on Twitter than they were on other social networking platforms, with users being 17% more likely to send a negative tweet than a negative Facebook post.

Additional findings suggest that blogs also represent an increasingly common arena for PR crises, with one in five crises seeing consumers use blogs to criticize brands—up 8% since 2014. According to Nicolas Huguenin, CEO of Visibrain, “Social media has always been a battleground for brands, and it appears that Twitter is leading the trend.

“Despite many brands feeling that they’ve finally ‘got’ social networking, Twitter is increasingly moving from a platform for two-way communication to an environment of trolling and provocation. More than ever, users are sharing the negative side of news, and using the platform exclusively to name and shame brands when they make mistakes. While there is still a lot of positivity on Twitter, brands need to be prepared for this new mentality and be ready to react urgently when something does go wrong.”

PR professionals need to monitor Twitter closely during crises to see how users are responding to the crisis and then use these social media audits to craft messages that resonate the public moods.

At MTI Network, we take social media seriously. The regular social media audits we conduct for our clients together with the social media monitoring at times of crisis help us create adequate strategies and respond to the audiences online in the most beneficial to the client’s reputation manner.

We also provide social media training, giving our clients knowledge on social listening, developing social media strategy, engaging with audiences, creating appropriate content and measuring the impact.