The usefulness of social media in crisis communication: How Vietnamese companies and stakeholders view social media engagement during crises.

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research examined the usefulness of social media for crisis communication in Vietnam from the perspectives of public relations practitioners and stakeholders to develop an understanding of how and whether social media channels could be used to better respond to stakeholder needs and uphold organizational reputation. Only internal crises that began or were amplified on social media were considered.
The research consisted of interviews with 24 practitioners and 13 stakeholders, and survey responses from 50 practitioners and 370 stakeholders. Practitioner questions were developed using three aspects of Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) theory: (1) the advantages of using social media compared to traditional media, (2) the compatibility of using social media with current norms and values of Vietnamese public relations practitioners and organizations, and (3) the paths by which organizations adopt social media for communicating crises.
Compatibility was operationalized by using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions of power distance and uncertainty avoidance. Stakeholder questions were developed using Schultz, Utz, and Göritz’s networked crisis communication theory (NCCT), which holds that the channel through which a crisis is communicated affects stakeholder reactions.
The research found that although social media may be advantageous in pre-crisis and post-crisis stages, most organizations do not engage in monitoring the social media space as Vietnamese public relations is concerned more with marketing than stakeholder relations, and practitioners find social media channels complex to manage.For crisis response, the speed, reach, interactivity, and transparency of social media channels were found to be both advantageous and limiting. An organization would be likely to use social media in addition to traditional media if the organization aimed to quickly reach as many stakeholders as possible, be truthful, receive a positive reaction from stakeholders, prevent rumors, signal willingness to communicate, and make information available to the press.
As the results of this study show, social media should be used in addition to traditional media firstly because stakeholders find traditional media more credible, and secondly because any subsequent dialogue would preferably occur offline. If an organization had a strong need to control information, it would likely not select social media.
Most stakeholders expressed a preference for well-considered responses in traditional media to quick responses on social media, although many stakeholders want a response in social media, too. As the message matters more than the channel, Vietnamese practitioners should consider the message more thoroughly.
Date of Award12 Oct 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMarilyn Mitchell (Supervisor) & Sven Brodmerkel (Supervisor)

Cite this