Facebook, Txt at U of Minn for Crisis Communications

crisis communications

I saw yesterday that the University of Minnesota had developed a text-messaging system for quick notification of students, faculty and staff in the event of a campus emergency. Then today in my list of Facebook groups recently joined by my friends, I saw that they have a Facebook group for the same purpose.

I think this is an excellent use of technology for crisis communications. I’ve written some ideas about how Facebook could be used, and also Twitter. As Dennis McDonald recommends, you need to have multiple means of spreading the word in a crisis, because no one method reaches everyone. It’s great to see that the University of Minnesota has a comprehensive plan like this.

I think the dedicated text-message service is a really good idea, and may be preferable to Twitter for this application, because it will only be used for emergencies. I’m working with a crisis-planning group, and we’re experimenting with Twitter as a first step for a text-messaging system to alert the core crisis team. It’s a great solution for people who are just being introduced to Twitter and who don’t feel a need follow others’ tweets, because they can link their account with their cell phone, follow only the crisis communications Twitter account and have the notifications set to “on.” They will only get a text message in the event of an emergency.

For me, as someone who is already Twittering and following a few dozen people, having my notifications set to “on” would keep my cell phone buzzing all day. So I typically just check in with Twitter once in a while on the web. I want text messages I receive to be higher-priority and worthy of interruptions (especially since I’m paying for them.) But I haven’t found a way to choose which Tweets I get by text, and which just go to the web feed.

Ideally I would like to just have some tweets come by text (such as those from the crisis management account.) Does anyone have a way around this? I have a couple of ideas:

  1. Can I sign up for another account in Twitter and also link to my same cell phone?
  2. Or can I be selective about which tweets on my main account come by txt?

I would appreciate any guidance on this that anyone can offer, because I would like to have Twitter be the text-notification service for our crisis plan (since it’s free.) But if it becomes more widely used among my non-geek colleagues and they start “following” multiple accounts and not just the crisis account, they may end up turning off the text notifications, which would defeat our purpose.

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Author: Lee Aase

Married father of six and grandfather of seven, and the Chancellor of SMUG - Social Media University, Global. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

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