Social Media for Mass Notification at Schools

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Pros, Cons & Alternative Options

Does your school or district send mass notification updates via social media during an emergency situation or incident? You may post on Facebook aboutsocial media road closures due to flooding, or that school is postponed due to snow, or even to alert parents that the school was temporarily under lock down because of something going on in the immediate area. Although there are some positive reasons to use social media for mass notification in a school setting, there are also negative effects that could happen.

Pros: 

The ability to quickly post a message for a large audience is enticing for schools, that’s why many schools use social media for notification. Facebook and Twitter offer ease of accessibility to reach people who like their page or follow them. It is also helpful that the majority of people these days have a social media account and use it often. Social media is a free notification network that schools and districts can use to reach a large audience, instead of allocating budget money for a paid notification system. But there are few other positives for using social media for mass notification than these.

Cons: 

On the other hand, there are still many people who do not have social media accounts for various reasons. Even if they do have them, they do not check it every minute, especially if they are at work. Still there are others that do not follow their child’s school’s social media pages, and would not be aware of any information posted on there.

When discussing the negative effects of utilizing social media, it is also important to remember that these accounts can be followed by almost anyone, and privacy settings only go so far. Putting sensitive information out through these channels could be dangerous during an incident, instead parents should be notified via private channels to ensure the safety of those still at the school. When a school emergency happens, details change quickly and rumors begin emerging without evidence to back them up. If social media is being used to notify a large audience of people, such as parents, about an emergency or incident at their child’s school, it is safe to say that the information will expire quickly and will become out-of-date, making it difficult for parents to know the current status of those involved.

Parents worry about the well-being and safety of their children when they are not around, and having a way to effectively and privately communicate with parents about an ongoing incident at their child’s school is critical to that trust. Schools need a way to notify parents, confidentially and with direct instructions for how to reunite with their children and what the status of the emergency or incident is. Social media just doesn’t cover it when notifying parents that their students are in lockdown, evacuating, or meeting at a reunification area for any reason.

Notify is a complimentary add-on feature to Rapid Responder, a popular safety technology for schools across the country.

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