Leading through a crisis is a task any leader could be thrust into, but one that most leaders desire to avoid. Part of the challenge of leading through crisis is the fast-paced speed of crisis events and the need to make split second decisions that will immediately impact hundreds, and sometimes thousands of lives (Hackman & Johnson, 2013, p. 410). Crisis management may be the most demanding task of leadership (Hackman & Johnson, 2013, p. 410), and any opportunity to make managing crisis more efficient and effective should be understood and embraced.
Social media is a valuable tool at the disposal of leaders to help manage crisis and communicate with masses amounts of people in the break-neck speed of crisis. This was evident in the recent theater shooting in Lafayette, LA when Governor Bobby Jindal effectively used social media to navigate the developing crisis in the early hours of the evening of July 23 (Litten, 2015). Governor Jindel took to Twitter to communicate his intentions, offer comfort to those involved and their loved ones, as well as disseminate developing information even before he was in the city of Lafayette.
Social media can enable leaders to communicate important information, extend services, and receive feedback and ideas from followers in normal day-to-day situations (Golbeck et al., 2010), but in crisis management it allows leaders to get the right information into the hands of the right people in rapid information exchange (Graham et al., 2015, p. 388). A study by the American Red Cross reveals that people increasingly turn to social media in times of crisis (Graham et al., 2015, p. 388) and feel as though it is more credible than traditional mass media sources (Procopio & Procopio, 2007).
Golbeck, J., Grimes, J. M., & Rogers, A. (2010). Twitter use by the U.S. Congress. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61(8), 1612–1621. http://doi.org/10.1002/asi.21344
Graham, M. W., Avery, E. J., & Park, S. (2015). The role of social media in local government crisis communications. Public Relations Review, 41(3), 386–394. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2015.02.001
Procopio, C. H., & Procopio, S. T. (2007). Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? Internet Communication, Geographic Community, and Social Capital in Crisis. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 35(1), 67–87. http://doi.org/10.1080/00909880601065722
Times-Picayune, K. L., NOLA com | The. (2015, July 24). Here’s how Bobby Jindal addressed the Lafayette shooting as it unfolded. Retrieved July 31, 2015, from http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/07/bobby_jindal_lafayette_shootin.html