Blackout Silences Twitter

Social media is the way in which many users stay connected. With the help of the trusty smartphone we are one click away from expressing ourselves and learning about the expressions of others. Twitter introduced to us the miraculous hashtag. One symbol, # can inform the world about how others with the same hashtag feel about any given topic.

Twitter has become a useful tool for organizations worldwide. It allows organizations to personally connect directly with stakeholders. It also allows the organization to see first hand what is being said about the organization and their products. So what happens when this stops?

Since the government blackout, many have gone to Twitter to communicate their frustrations. Sad thing for them is that it is all quiet on the Western front and not in a good way. It appears that government agencies are closed and quiet, not even communicating with stakeholders via social media. Even the National Zoo has remained quiet.

What does this say to stakeholders who have even more questions in this quiet time? Many, however, are wondering why people who work in government are silencing their social media as well. Many compare what sites are up and running.

What should government agencies do? Should they continue to respond to Twitter and social media followers during the government blackout?

To read more about the Twitter silence from the government blackout: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/10/05/twitter-blackout-during-government-shutdown-pr-fail/

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9 Responses to Blackout Silences Twitter

  1. Ashley Provenzano says:

    I believe companies and organizations shutting down their social media during the government shutdown is a bad move. A key aspect of successful public relations is transparency. By companies refusing to answer their stakeholders’ questions and concerns in a time with more questions than usual, this could result in these stakeholders becoming even more distrusting of these companies. I also think it doesn’t seem to make much sense since social media is either free or paid in advance. The government is shut down because they could not decide on a budget; social media does not share the same problem or reason.

  2. Katherine Becerra says:

    The government made a big mistake by quieting social media sites during the shutdown. Social media is a great way to keep stakeholders informed and to maintain trust. It is especially important to keep an open line of communication during a crisis. I’m wondering if the social media team planned how they would carry on, or not, during the shutdown. I hope the government and other organizations will learn from this mistake and develop a social media plan for future crisis situations.

  3. Marlee Bever says:

    I think they should still respond over social media. This can be a way for them to keep their followers updated and informed about the current situation. I understand why they may be keeping a silent presence on social media, but I don’t think it should stop completely.

  4. Maja Cakarun says:

    Yes, I believe they should continue to communicate. This is some kind of crisis situation, and as every PR practitioner knows, crisis is not the time to stop communicating but to communicate even more. Government shutdown has a different purpose. As I understand from my U.S. friends, this is not the first time that it has happen. How was it before? Don’t public (government) institutions anticipate this scenario or was this a part of the communication plan?

    • Tessa Kay says:

      That is a good question. Personally I am not quite sure how it was in the past. I think that with social media becoming a bigger part of organizations, maybe it is not a part of the plan or process. I know that to me I think that this is a horrible time to blackout your stakeholders but obviously that is not the case to many of these agencies.

      Thank you all for your responses!

  5. Mackenzie Keller says:

    I think it is interesting how seemingly unrelated agencies like the National Zoo of all things are affected by the government shutdown. For example, I for one am outraged that I cannot view the Panda Cam during the government shutdown.

    I also find it interesting in your comment how you said that many are silencing their Twitters and social media because they are “shut down.” However, in actuality all the government employees are furloughed, meaning some are still required to work, just without pay. Therefore, I find it odd that they would shut down essential communication services to the public in a time of government crisis despite still having employees working.

    Great post!

  6. Marcela Palefsky says:

    I think government companies and organizations should continue to communicate via social media. By shutting out the public, they have caused them to draw their own conclusions as to what is going on behind “closed doors.” Every crisis communication plan involves just that, communication. It is essential to keeping things from spiraling out of control, which it often does when people are left to make assumptions for themselves. And this particular shutdown falls under the category of “crisis” as it has left people temporarily jobless and without active essential government departments. Social media has become the most transparent, not to mention fastest, way for companies and organizations to reach their publics. I think the government should utilize this form of controlled media to remain open with the public.

  7. Janslle Ong says:

    I think that remaining quiet can be seen as how serious the government shutdown it. This has been the first shutdown since the Clinton era, a lot of young people do not know how much it impacts many governmental organizations. Remaining quiet on social networks can make the people understand the seriousness and can also bring about the public to push for an end to the government shutdown.

  8. Charlotte Das says:

    In this case, even though it would be ideal for governmental organizations to keep their social media presence, we have to think about the fact that there might not be any paid workers to fulfill this job responsibility right now. From a PR perspective, we know that upholding a social media presence would benefit the organization when the shutdown is over, but it might be low on the priority list for many organizations at this point, when there are other problems that they are dealing with. They also might not be able to disclose any information and/or opinions of the individual employees or organization as a whole.

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