Emergency Communications and Social Media

We’ve all been there. After staring at the umpteenth Instagram post about how delicious the $45-dollar, artisan grilled cheese is at whatever hip restaurant is using the Apple Chancery font on their menus this week, you begin to wonder what social media is really all about. And then two inmates on work detail make a mad dash for it in your college town and change the game. No worries. Everything came up Milhouse! But, imagine trying to communicate this information to tens of thousands of people in your community and their parents. In situations like this, influence matters most.

The University of Oklahoma uses several channels to communicate emergencies to the community and general public, but none more important than good ole Facebook and Twitter. Text messages and voicemails are very effective during the first wave of communication, but social networks allow us to track overall message effectiveness in real time through feedback, likes, shares and re-tweets. During the aforementioned incident, we gained 62% more Facebook followers and 88% more Twitter followers than on average. We had 459 shares, 1,714 likes, and 201 comments just on Facebook statuses about this one incident.

Not impressed yet? As of today, OU Facebook fans have 47,865,426 friends. That’s not a typo! Almost 48 MILLION people are Facebook friends with people who follow The University of Oklahoma. Are we going to reach them all? Absolutely not. But that potential reach is powerful. And every single time someone shares the message, our sphere of influence grows. Okay, so maybe we’re no “Sneezing Panda”, but the impact of our communications is very real. And all the likes, comments, shares and @tweets help shape how we communicate with people now and in the future.

So, if you haven’t already, please follow The University of Oklahoma on Facebook and Twitter and sign up here (OU students, faculty, staff) to receive emergency notifications!

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