Social media crisis management is on the rise for colleges today. Students and social media can very easily create a crisis management situation. According to an article in PR Daily, 85% of schools have crisis communication policies, 59% address the use of social media in a crisis, and 66% reported that potential reputation-damaging events were discussed in social media channels (Allen, 2013). Michelle Maresh-Fuehrer, author and professor at Texas A&M University discusses the importance of making a plan before you need it (Winston, 2013).
The relationship between social media and crisis management has become important for institutions today. Social media has become a powerful tool for the average person, allowing for one tweet or post to gain national attention. Organizations are now being held more accountable for their social media accounts and are being watched more closely (Winston, 2013). Statistics show that within the last 12 months, 42% of colleges have enacted their crisis communication policies 1-3 times, and 7% have enacted them 4-6 times (Allen, 2013).
One article from Melissa Agnes Crisis Management blog discusses how a California school district took action to prevent crisis in social media by hiring a monitoring firm to monitor 14,000 student’s social media posts (Agnes, 2013). This step is recommended for every school to help plan, prevent, and monitor. Agnes recommends that schools monitor for the right reasons, have policies place, and analyze all possible risks (Agnes, 2013). You can plan for any situation by having a crisis management plan and being open and honest about the program (Agnes, 2013).
I think social media crisis management for colleges is a step that every school should consider. With the obsession of social media by students, schools should be on edge about any posts, tweets, or photos. I think hiring an outside firm is necessary to help develop a crisis management plan and to bring expertise to a subject that is still fairly new to colleges. Kevin Allen recommends 5 best practices for social media crisis communication:
- Make sure to respond to comments, tweets, and other mentions in a timely manner
- Find ways to make negative situations into good situations
- Develop a crisis management plan and have responses ready
- Train your social media team in case of emergencies
- Ask customers to contact you privately for more detailed conversations
Agnes, M. (2013, Sept. 24). Monitoring students’ social media activity: Guidelines for schools. Retrieved from http://www.melissaagnescrisismanagement.com/monitoring-students-social-media-activity-guidelines-for-schools/
Allen, K. (2013, Nov. 1). A primer for managing social media crises. Retrieved from http://www.prdaily.com/crisiscommunications/Articles/15486.aspx
Winston, H. (2013, Sept. 13). Crisis management on campuses in the age of social media. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/crisis-management-on-campuses-in-the-age-of-social-media/46567