How Facebook can help hospitals during crises

A new study finds that posting on Facebook in times of crisis can be a boon to an institution's public image, the University of Missouri announced.

When participants were given information about organizational crises at two fictional universities, their attitudes about the universities and the severity of the crises were significantly more positive after reading Facebook posts from those universities addressing the situation than before, according to researchers at the MU School of Journalism.

"Many studies have already shown how important crisis management is for organizations," said doctoral candidate Seoyeon Hong, the study's co-author. "Because Facebook is very personal for its users, well-thought-out crisis management messages can be effective at reaching users on a personal level, which is a powerful way to persuade people to a cause."

The study found it is not only the presence of an organization on Facebook that makes the difference--the style in which the posts are written is significant as well. According to the study, narrative-style posts that told a chronological story were more effective than posts that simply stated facts one by one.

"This indicates that the effect of narrative tone in organizational statements during crises increases perceived conversational human voice, which represents a high level of engagement and best communicates trust, satisfaction and commitment to the audience," Hong said in the announcement.

Effective use of social media by institutions has been a hot topic in recent months. A July whitepaper from HP Social Media Solutions claimed that proactive management of social media was necessary for hospitals to counter the spread of misinformation, FierceHealthcare previously reported. An August study found that hospitals are not making the best use of social media due to their tendency to post about subjects such as hospital achievements and benefits, which the study found tends to draw attention primarily from employees rather than patients.

To learn more:
-here's the MU News article