This study examined managing crisis on social media platform an exploratory study of MTN-NCC Crisis. Five research questions was posed by the study, they includes include; How did MTN manage the NCC crisis? What is the impact of using social media in resolving crisis? How effective is the use of social media in resolving crisis? What caused the MTN? NCC crisis and what were the strategies/tactics adopted by MTN to handle the crisis? The survey method of research method was adopted by the study with the use structured questionnaires administered to 150 respondents. The data were analyzed through the use of simple percentage method of data analysis which in turn gave birth to the following major findings that show that Majority of the respondents use whatsapp and facebook as their social media platform, that Social media have influence or impact on crisis management, the use of social media in crisis management in crisis management is effective. A good number of the respondents were aware of the MTN NCC crisis. the study further showed that Social media and friends were the major sources of information to the respondents on the MTN -NCC crisis, that the tactics employed by MTN to resolve their issues with NCC was by putting the issue on their social media platform i.e their facebook and twitter page and finally, the study found that Social media was instrumental to the peaceful resolution between MTN and NCC. Based the findings the study therefore recommended that organizations should take a holistic approach to crisis communication, that organization integrate social media in their crisis plan and regularly rehearse and update it, furthermore, the study suggested that organization integrates social media in their crisis plan, to save time and reduce chaos in a crisis. Finally, the study recommends that organization’s crisis managing strategy or plan should be tested and updated regularly.
1.1. Background to the Study
The rise of social media has brought an increasingly open and transparent environment where everyone can share thoughts and opinions with other people. This new transparent world creates new challenges in many fields. One of these is in the field of crisis management. Handling social media has become more important for companies; and over the last few years the internet has become the most popular way to communicate with stakeholders such as customers, investors, employees and traditional media (Gonzalez- Herero and Smith, 2008).
Companies and organizations can use the internet to communicate about their business, respond to questions from their customers and to information about a crisis (Coombs and Helladay, 2010).
Online crisis management has been a principal issue for organizations and distinctive research have been carried out in the past on how organizations can deal with their crisis. Crisis can come in different shapes. It could, for instance be an accident, a scandal of some kind or a product safety incident (Marals and Goodman, 1991). More specifically, crisis can take the form of a bribery scandal, a hostile takeover, a product recall, mean rumors or an environmental spill, and so forth (Peason & Clair, 1998).
A major share of crisis management has been focused on avoiding crisis at a pre-crisis stage. It is of course better to prevent all crises but it is wrong to think that all crises are avoidable. Every organization will eventually experience a crisis. During a crisis, it is vital to be able to communicate with the organization’s stakeholders to reach out and respond to the crisis. Organizations facing current crisis are going to the internet to converse with the audience and the news media during a crisis (Taylor and Pery, 2005).
How well an organization can understand and communicate with its main stakeholders during a crisis is very important. Quite often, it is hard during a crisis to maintain the same amount of communication with all stakeholders, because of the limited time and all potential media coverage present. In this kind of situation it would benefit the organization to understand or assume how the stakeholders are affected and reacts. The media play a big role as they translate what the crisis mean and give different perspectives to explain the crisis. Organization that prior to a crisis are well liked by the public, have an advantage compared to those that are liked. Those well liked will receive more room to perform their measures against the crisis and may not be as thoroughly investigated by media as those disliked. Consequently to have a good relationship with media is very important especially during a crisis.
Communication through the interest has during the last couple of years became the most popular way for companies to communicate with the development of social media the speed of which information spread has increased. Today anyone can participate in discussions about companies and since people can write anything they want on different social network platforms, consumers have gained power. It is s then essential for companies to always monitor social networks, blogs and other websites to find potential upcoming crisis (Elonzalez- Herrero & Smith, 2008) and also give quick response to such perceived crisis.
The crisis management in social media is directly linked to the image control of the organization’s overall reputation. With the right kind of communication and crisis management the reputational harm is possibly reduced. What the organization says during a crisis affects their reputation and thus can be very harmful for their image in the long run (Coombs & Holladay, 1996). The organization need to bear in mind though that their actions should reflect their ethics and their communicative effects in line with the audience expectations rather than just communicating towards their own business goals (Aua, 2010).
According to Anthonissen (2009) “ how a company responds to crisis online and the effectiveness of that reply is very important for the status of the company, thereby stressing the need to be vigorous when communicating in any crisis situation. It is not entirely possible for an organization to run without facing crisis and challengers once in a while, what is really, important is how the organization is able to curtail and manage such crisis so that it does not destroy the organization totally.
MTN Nigeria is part of the MTN Group, Africa’s leading cellular telecommunications company. On May 16, 2001 it became the first GSM network to make a call following the globally lauded Nigerian GSM auction conducted by the Nigerian communications commission (NCC) earlier the year.
Thereafter, the company launched full commercial operations beginning with Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
Spearheading Nigeria’s ICT revolution with over 55 million subscribers, MTN Nigeria provides cellular network access and ICT solutions to millions of Nigerians, connecting communities with each other and with the rest of the world, offering world class network and business solutions to over 232. 6 million subscribers in 22 countries across Africa and Middle East.
With 15 service centres, 144 connect stores and 247 connect paints located in every state of the federation, MTN is poised to lead the delivery of a bold, new digital world to the Nigerian market. MTN Nigeria is 75.81% owned by MTN international (Mauritive) Limited, 18.7% held by Nigerian shareholders through special purpose relies; 2.78% owned by Mobile Telephone Networks and 2.71% owned by Shanduka Telecommunication Limited Although MTN operates in over 20 countries, one third of its revenues comes from Nigeria where it holds about 35% market share. (https://www.mtnonline.com).
In 2015, the Nigerian subsidiary of MTN was fined by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Nigerian communications commission (NCC) for not meeting the deadline set up by the Mobile Network. Operators (MNOs) for disconnecting the subscriber’s identification Mobiles (SIM) with improper registration. The commission exercised section 20 (1) of the telephone subscribers regulation (TSR) law on MTN) leading to a calculated fine of 5.2 billion, according to the constitution. The compliance audit carried out by the NCC on MTN. network revealed 5.2 billion unregistered customers lines were not deactivated as directed. This led to the NCC fining MTN with the sum of $ 1000 for each unregistered SIM according to the TSR regulation law, which amounted to $ 5.2 billion.
What followed was major resignations among the top echelon of the organization in chiding the chief executive officers, Sifiso Dabengwa, the head of Nigerian operation, Micheal Ikpoki and the head of corporate affairs, Akinwale GOODLUCK being replaced with phuthuma Nhleko, Ferdi Moolman and Amina Oyegbola as new chairman, managing director and head of corporate and regulation respectively (https://en.m.wipedia.org/wiki/MTN_ group).
The new management employed a diplomatic measure between the government of the Republic of South Africa and its Nigerian counterpart to ameliorate the burden of the liabilities from the fine. The action brought about the reduction of the liability to $ 3.2 billion. This resulted in a crisis that escalated and brought about a lot of controversies online (Wikipedia)
It is against this backdrop that this study examines how MTN attempted to manage the NCC crisis on its social media platforms and website. This research seeks to critically analyse the MTN/NCC crisis and the measures that were taken online to manage the crisis.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Managing crisis online has become a major hurdle for organizations because informational especially the bad ones spread like wildfire online and with the emergence of the new media a lot of people have access to information on the internet (Taylor and Perry 2005) organizations are faced with challenge of how to manage this crisis since information spreads faster.
As a result, this study seeks to investigate how organizations manage crisis on social media platforms and online using the MTN/NCC crisis as a case study.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study includes the following:
- To examine how MTN managed the crisis
- To find out the impact of using social media in resolving crisis
- To ascertain the effectiveness of social media in the resolution of the crisis
- To ascertain the causes of the crisis
- To find out the strategies/tactics MTN adopted to handle the crisis
1.4 Research Questions
Based on the above objectives, the following research questions are posed:
- How did MTN manage the NCC crisis
- What is the impact of using social media in resolving crisis
- How effective is the use of social media in the resolution of crisis?
- What caused the MTN/NCC crisis?
- What were the strategies/tactics adopted by MTN to handle the crisis?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will enable other organizations comply and act quickly to instructions given to them so as to avoid crisis.
This study will give communication scholars and public relation exerts insights on how MTN has been able to manage the NCC crisis on all their social media platforms and website. This study would also give MTN and other organizations an insight on how to plan effective online crisis management strategy as well as maintain a stable relationship with their publics using online tools
Students, communication scholars and the society at large would learn more about crisis management, managing crisis on social media especially in this new technological age.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study focuses on information relating to the MTN/NCC crisis on MTN’s official website and all social media platforms from August 1, 2015 when the crisis started till the end date of the data collection of this research.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Crisis: crisis is any event that is likely to lead to an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community or the whole. Society. It is also an occasion anticipated that would prompt a Shakyor hazardous circumstance influencing an individual or the entire society.
Crisis Management: it is the process by which an organization deals with a disruptive and unexpected event that threatens to harm the organizations, its stakeholders or the general public. It is also the procedure by which an association manages a noteworthy occasion that has the potential to damage reputation, its partiers and the overall population.
It is considered to be the most important process in public relations
Online Crisis Management: it can be seen as the way organizations are able to autail and properly manage their crisis online.
Online: In computer technology and telecommunications, online indicates a state of connectivity, it is an activity or service which is available on or performed using the internet or other computer networks.
Communication: it is the act of conveying intended mea rungs from one entity or group to another through the use of specific channel or medium.
Social Media: they are computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms f expression via virtual communities and networks.
Social Media Platforms: Social media platforms are electronic innovations that empowers the improvement, arrangement and administration of online networking arrangement and administration. It gives the capacity to make online networking sites and administrations with complete media system usefulness. They are usually user driven, examples are blogs, websites etc.
MTN: Formally known as M-cell is a South African based multinational mobile telecommunications company. Operating in many African, European. And Asian countries with its head office in Johannesburg. MTN Nigeria is the biggest individual from the MTN bunch.
NCC: Nigeria Communications Commission is the independent regulatory authority for the telecommunications. Industry in Nigeria. The NCC was charged with the responsibility of regulating the supply of telecommunications services and facilities, promoting competition and setting performance standards for telephone services in Nigeria.