I’m sure we’ve all heard about the University of Texas at Austin this morning. As I went through my day, I started to search more for updated information. Watching the live tweets via Google was helpful. I could imagine being at that school - or knowing someone who attended/worked there - and how Twitter would have been my lifeline. And then I stumbled on to the CNN article referenced above. The one that refers to the University’s Facebook page.
Huh. I had seen nothing on the ‘Official’ University of Texas at Austin page (which hasnt been active since the 17th). Did they delete it? Then, I found their Police Department Page. Updates had been posted from the initial report of a suspected shooter, the shooter’s death, straight through the closing of the school for the day. While horrific, I found the authenticity of this to be helpful. It told me what was going on. It told me what to do. People thanked them for their ‘swift response’.
It got me thinking. I would have never thought a separate page for Campus Police/Security would be of help. It would seem to be a segment that little or no students would follow or keep up with. Looking at the numbers: for the UT general Facebook page (186,703 fans) and for the Campus Police (4,101 fans) that’s roughly 2.2% the size of the main page audience. I wondered how much the page grew within the morning.
They were also very vocal on Twitter. Using a hashtag (#utshooter) students and staff kept in touch from initial ‘rumor’ to the ‘all clear’. Someone random even live blogged the event. What I took from all of this is that social media made it much easier, and quicker to get updates of whats happening, where to avoid and what to do. Instead of one way scary messages, the community was able to discuss together what was happening with links to specific information and school communicators.
What happened was tragic and our hearts are with those in Texas as they deal with this today and in the days to come. They communicated well and quickly, in every way they had in place. They did what most of us have been taught to do and hope we never have to.
Does your university have a Campus Safety/Police page? What types of updates do they post? How many active followers do you see? Have you ever had to use it for an emergency?