Losing power to campus in the middle of the day on Thursday provided a serious challenge on several fronts. But it also taught me an illuminating lesson on proactive social media use.
I was sitting in a meeting around noon when the lights went out. The head of facilities was also in the meeting and relayed that power was out for most of campus. This happened earlier this semester in the evening and I didn’t even learn about it until later after quite a few complaints on social media. I didn’t want that to happen again.
So, even without much information, my first instinct was to acknowledge the issue via Facebook and Twitter:
Since I did so via iPhone, the update to our Facebook page posted as — surprise, surprise — me! I got over any concern about that quickly, realizing it was more important to have the information out there, even if it draws things back to show the man behind the curtain. Note also that the Twitter message got retweeted, which makes for nearly instantaneous dissemination via personal networks.
I returned to my office where with a laptop and working ethernet (that in itself a minor miracle), we put any and all updates onto Facebook and Twitter and fielded any questions we could. Some people wondered about questions out of our control, but our main promise to provide updates — which we did — may have sufficed for many folks.
In this instance, social media preceded information via official channels, because an official mass communication may involve many more players and factors. Fortunately, the outage itself was resolved fairly quickly, plus it was really nice outside, so the majority of hardships were minimized. In all, it brought home the vital role of social media communication and the importance of us receiving timely and updated information. Not a lesson I was in any hurry to learn, but it’s good to know.