How social media can help, and not hinder, during a crisis

Faculty need to be made aware of what they are expected to do when an individual becomes dangerous or when weapons are involved, for example, and these procedures should be simple and specific:

  • Disengage from the violent individual
  • Keep yourself safe; leave the area if necessary
  • Call police and seek help immediately

We’ve found that most violent incidents follow typical patterns of escalation. Being aware of these patterns can help reduce natural panic when a facing a real-life situation. We often compare this to fire drills—people become familiar with what to do when there is no fire, so they can respond via muscle memory if a fire occurs. The goal is to build that same type of innate response for other crisis situations.

Use social media to track a developing crisis

Facebook, Twitter, and blogs are quickly becoming the sources for information on just about anything, especially during a rapidly evolving crisis situation. This sudden and widespread emergence of social media has led to several new challenges. Yet, with the right attitude and management approach, we believe social media offer new and unique opportunities to gain insights into and better manage crisis situations.


Increased speed and volume
Social media outlets have created an information flow of much greater velocity and volatility that previously imagined. Twitter and Facebook are more likely to divulge the first inkling of a crisis event than a story on a cable news network. It is important to establish proven, well-organized strategies and tactics that allow for quick, concise responses when needed.

Pervasive inaccuracies
There is no way to monitor the accuracy of information conveyed by social media, and this challenge creates a whole new class of information. In addition to managing the actual crisis, schools must now address fears caused by rumors or false facts due to the common inaccuracies of social media.

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