Social media as a communication tool during crises and disasters: a South African governance perspective.
MetadataShow full item record
Good governance is often a prevalent theme within the public administration sphere; being politically, socially and economically inclined. The focus of good governance is based on the responsibility of governments and governing bodies for the safety and well-being of their stakeholders. With the dominance of the technology age, social media and related technologies have become a strategic communications tool for the citizens of democratic states to voice their needs and opinions. Social media has proved to be a useful and effective communications tool in many crises internationally. However, in South Africa social media has not been fully embraced as a strategic communications tool by public organisations and is an evolving one. There is a lack of studies and knowledge of how social media can be used for crisis communication in South Africa or the factors that may influence it’s usage in crises. The study identified the gaps, and factors of using social media, thereby establishing the need for inclusion of social media in an organisation’s or government’s crisis management plan. Public Administrators play an important role in a crisis is to ensure that the citizens receive the vital information to ensure their safety in life-threatening situations and this became evident in the study. Therefore, the main aim of this study was to analyse the use of social media as a communication tool during crises and disasters from a South African governance perspective. As such, from the main aim, a few key objectives highlighted include amongst others: an investigation into the extent of social media usage in crisis and disaster communication; determining of the global factors affecting the use of social media in crisis and disasters and the proposal of updated communication flow models for the specific case of social media in crisis management; legislative and governance factors and developing an integrative model for the enhanced use of social media to address crisis communication whilst recommending social media strategies for effective use in crisis management for public/private South African organisations. A mixed methods approach was used to gather and analyse the findings. The study involved the collection of empirical data incorporating the use of questionnaires, interviews, secondary data and content analysis from authoritative documents to elicit relevant information from the relevant experts, specialists and academics in this field of study, utilising the Task Technology Fit (TTF) and Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) as guidelines. From the identified factors which influence the adoption of social media, an issue regarding the awareness of the respondents toward the relevance of South African laws emerged. The #Feesmustfall campaign was one case study that revealed the extent to which social media was being used nationally and internationally. Key themes that emerged from the study include privacy and security which further emphasised the need for governing frameworks and legislation. Furthermore, social media strategies in terms of possible future legislation and or frameworks were recommended for the effective use in crisis management. The study concluded that social media is an important channel of communication in crisis and disaster but control mechanisms are required for its effectiveness. Furthermore, the study establishes the need for future research in this important area, which would be beneficial to the global community as a whole.