Introduction The popularity of microblogging exploded onto the Chinese Internet scene in 2010. Since then netizens have become the media, able to produce, disseminate and consume messages at the same time. As an important social media and online platform for communication, microblogs have come to play a pivotal role in breaking and amplifying crises and scandals. Handling a microblog crisis appropriately and with compassion inspires public cooperation and confidence, while mismanagement often wreaks havoc on a brand’s image and can even lead to financial trouble.
1.1 Evolution of Crisis 2.0 Crisis 2.0 has developed alongside social media since 2004 IWOM (Internet word-of-mouth) has developed quickly alongside China’s thriving social media scene. Now more than ever Chinese netizens are able to freely discuss society, brands, products and their personal lives on the Internet. Meanwhile, netizens’ penchant for posting negative comments online - and the snowball effect that has on other netizens - brought Crisis 2.0 to the fore in a big way.
Since 2004 BBS (Bulletin Board Service) has been an important online platform for breeding and escalating crises. In 2006 CIC released “CIC IWOM Watch,” which first introduced the term “crisis 2.0” and highlighted several brand crisis case studies (IWOM Watch Highlights from 2006 to 2010, Link). By 2011 CIC had defined “crisis 2.0” as a crisis generated or exacerbated by both media and netizens on social media platforms.
1.2 Entering the Microblog Era Microblogs have become the most crucial social media platform in crisis 2.0 History of Microblogs in China The Crucial Role of Microblogs in Crisis 2.0
In China microblogs were born during the social media boom in 2007. Microblogs have constructed an Internet ecosystem After the rise and fall of independent microblogs, the launch of Sina by producing, distributing and consuming information, Weibo microblog catapulted microblogs into the fast track during the establishing an “eco-circulation.” 2009 growth period. Since then microblogs have grown to be the most
Online crises were classified into three categories:
• Public Credibility Crises focus on governments, non-governmental organizations and when there seems to be no apparent target • Personal Crises focus on individuals, particularly celebrities or corporate executives • Brand Crises focus on corporations, private enterprise and industry
2.2 Top 10 Personal Crises 6 out of 10 crises originated from microblogs as they became a public space where people could respond to and monitor others’ comments, especially those made by celebrities and corporate executives. Senior executives’ inappropriate comments can negatively impact their companies. Microblog Microblog Media Crisis Month Role of Microblog Media Reports Posts Ranking Ranking WANG Gongquan’s elopement May First exposed on microblog s with constant live posts 2,083,488 18,200 1 2 with his mistress LI Yang’s domestic violence First disclosed by LI Yang’s wife on microblog s with Sep 1,542,032 9,970 2 4 scandal constant posts LI Shuangjiang ‘s son’s beating Sep Amplified the buzz with constant discussion 1,274,492 8,030 3 6 Pan currency in real estate market Nov Started with PAN Shiyi’s post 497,180 3,050 4 8 GAO Xiaosong’s drunk driving May Amplified the buzz with constant discussion 375,144 20,600 5 1 LI Kaifu’s education in question Nov Started with FANG Zhouzi’s post 166,936 3,340 6 7 Quality and management of LUO Initiated through a microblog discussion between Yonghao’s Dec 108,888 2,410 7 9 English training school LUO Yonghao and FANG Zhouzi Criticism of CHEN Guangbiao’s lack Apr Amplified the buzz with constant discussion 26,046 9,930 8 5 of philanthropy ZHANG Chaoyang blogging about celebrities’ private wedding Mar First exposed on microblogs with live posts 24,733 11,600 9 3
Summary of Personal Crises • 6 out of 10 major personal crises in 2011 originated from microblogs. Interestingly in all 6 cases, corporate executives – and not celebrities - were the ones that came under fire.
• Senior executives and corporate heads can trigger crises by posting inappropriate content or comments on their microblogs.
Summary of Brand Crises • Microblogs have become a source of brand crises. If highly influential key opinion leaders and media organizations use their microblog accounts to comment on crises, the news will spread far and wide, and fast.
“Shai” Net Culture and “Human Flesh Search” spark online fires “Shai” culture erupts in crisis “Human Flesh Search” Intensifies Crisis
In the Web 2.0 age, netizens flaunt their appearance and After the “South China Tiger” event, the human flesh possessions online through pictures and videos, and they also search engine became one of the hottest topics on the share their likes and dislikes. In Chinese net culture this is internet. In this instance, the human flesh search shifted referred to as “Shai”. the public’s anger from Guo Meimei to the Red Cross.
Comments from KOLs and media drive public opinion KOLs’ ideas drive public opinion Key KOLs Disagree on “Overall State of the Industry”
Reposts • Da Vinci Furniture publicly apologized KOL Comments Tone Generated and accepted government supervision, an 新浪财经 308 • No comment neutral internal investigation and agree to being • Da Vinci deleted the post admitting to the fake furniture. Such an held accountable by the public and media. apology shows no sincerity. They avoided answering the question
马光远 96 even though it’s been verified. They also avoided al microblog negative comments. With this low level of PR, it’s hard for them to escape • The top 10 KOLs generated 48.19% of total from a crisis. re-tweets about the incident. 今夜秋光灿烂 54 • Apology comes too late negative
• 7 in 10 KOLs’ comments about the case 每周质量报告 51 • No comment neutral were negative, while more than 50% of 新浪家居 37 • Da Vinci’s public apology neutral microblog posts were negative. • Second apology from Da Vinci, where they’re asked why they’re
not mentioning the refunds. Da Vinci apologized on Sina Weibo on
中国经营报 36 the 18th, the second public apology to their customers. But they negative Attitude of Microblog Users failed to mention the customer refunds so their sincerity is largely in
doubt. http://t.cn/aWJRKw Take responsibility, 肖勇设计 23 • Too late negative 1.30% Angry and • Apology and resignation – two necessary steps when facing a complain, 52.10% 毛振华 scandal. Do it earlier to be more positive, but it’s a bit late for
21 negative Da Vinci from a cover-up to an apology. Pay attention //@新浪财经:转发微博 46.60% 月月熊 • When I read the news in the morning, they said they will not
14 negative refund. Source: CIC IWOM Data Panel，1,353 东方卫视 • To be honest, this is just a PR failure. Sure people can afford
Quick PR response with a positive outcome and unique brand image Durex cleverly inserted their brand identity into their response and created a fun discussion topic with phrases like, “enough for three years’ use” and “a piece for a day,” which drew the negative attention away from the crisis . Typical Microblog Users’ Responses 1st Day Apology from Durex Declaration: @辣笔小球 is the original author of this
post, and it’s our mistake for not clearly citing that.
We’d like to apologize to @辣笔小球. To express Sep 24 at 23:22 our sincere apology, we’re giving a gift to @辣笔小 Compared to state-owned enterprises, Durex is 球 that’s enough for three years’ use. Sincere much better! thanks to our fans’ support and the author’s original
post. link Sep 23 at 11:14 I really admire Durex’s attitude toward the crisis. 2nd Day Apology from Durex
Peace is prized. After consulting with @辣笔小 Sep 22 at 19:07 球’s lawyer, the settlement is as fol ows. Best A microblog lawsuit turned out to be microblog wishes to labixiaoqiu and his girl and all will be marketing. well. Fulfilling our promise, this is a piece for
Shanghai Subway Accident TIMELINE • Sep 27 at 14:10: Line 10 accident happens. • Sep 27 at 14:17: Shanghai subway posted that operations are slow due to technical difficulties, train wait times will be longer than usual. link • Sep 27 at 14:40: Within 30 minutes two apologies were publicly posted about their dealing with the accident’s aftermath. link • Sep 27 at 15:05: Shanghai subway reminds commuters to rearrange their travel. link • Sep 27 at 15:17: Only an hour after the accident, Shanghai Subway suspends line 10. link • Sep 27 at 15:23: Shanghai subway posts updates on the accident on Sina Weibo microblog. link link • Sep 27 at 16:03: Shanghai subway claims that all the injured have been sent to the hospital. link • Sep 27 at 19:11: Shanghai subway posts that all its subway lines are now back in full operation. link • Sep 27: Shanghai subway publishes investigation results on Sina Weibo microblog and 12 people responsible have been punished. link Shanghai Subway Accident Buzz Trend on Microblog, Sep 27 – Oct 11, 2011 Unit: post/repost 120,000 Stage I: Accident happened, quick crisis management followed Stage II: Investigation results published, 100,000
Acknowledge various stakeholders and using a comforting and compassionate tone are important in accident management
Two Hottest Posts of the Day
【Sorry again】 Shanghai Subway Microblog Accident map Today is the darkest day for the Shanghai subway, regardless of what caused the Posts, Sep 27, 2011 posted on microblogs accident or who’s responsible. We regret the pain caused to passengers. We look to improve, and while an apology can’t undo the damage, we’d like to apologize 11 10 again. link Reposts: 23,270 Comments: 9,953
Timely, genuine and reasonable official responses as well as fan support are helpful in crisis management Aug 8: Media accounts post about the KFC oil case Aug 8 evening: After KFC published its explanation, on Sina Weibo microblog, more than 65% of netizens netizens and staff expressed their support for the brand. show their disdain for KFC. (The original post has link since been deleted). KFC’s Official Response
• KFC responded quickly and appropriately to the crisis.
• Spoke in a heartfelt and sincere tone. Attitudes of Online Responses Attitudes of Online Responses
Reacting to netizens’ compaints about high housing prices led to marketing of Pan’s own currency Oct 6: Pan appeased Apple fans on Posts appeased Sina Weibo microblog link Understanding Netizens’ Emotions Apple fans, honored unrelated 1.94% Discussion of the Pan currency led to Steve Jobs and won home prices 57.54% netizens’ complaints of China’s high fan support criticize 10.98% housing prices. link Pan turned this 29.54% understanding 29.54% potential PR crisis around into self- mockery, which netizens loved. Oct 14: Pan appease fans with a video posted on Sina Weibo microblog link Pan’s video posted on unrelated 1.68% Sina Weibo microblog home prices Self-mockery and Marketing 50.13% won him fan support criticize 3.42% Pan said he would design his 44.77% praise 44.77% currency based on netizens’ suggestions. link This post received more than 4,000 reposts and 2,400 comments. Pan and his company have been linked many Oct 25: Pan publicizes Pan currency link Netizens admired times to other positive
“…(in the connected age) … the public face of business has changed forever and corporations who fail to recognize this will risk having their reputations, often lovingly built up over generations, damaged in an instant.”
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About CIC CIC is China's leading social business intelligence provider. CIC enables businesses to fully leverage the power of social media and (Internet Word of Mouth) IWOM intelligence across the organization. Since coining the term IWOM in 2004, CIC has pioneered the industry to help companies meet their social media marketing and social business needs by providing customized research, consulting services, syndicated reports, as well as technical solutions and platforms all via an objective, third party perspective. In addition to helping companies leverage social media intelligence for more informed decisions, CIC is monetizing the social business industry in China by creating an integrated social business support system. CIC has strong, long term retainer relationships with leading multinational agencies and Fortune 500 companies. To view more, please visit www.ciccorporate.com.