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Social media crisis communication guidelines

Social media handles to follow

It is critical that all West Virginia University social media accounts communicate uniform messages during a disaster or emergency. This keeps the campus community and beyond properly informed with consistent and accurate messaging.

Accordingly, all official University messages in a crisis will originate on the @WVUalert Twitter account or the WVU Safety and Wellness Facebook page. Only the content posted on these accounts or on the following accounts should be retweeted/shared:

All of these social media accounts are owned and managed by University Relations, working in conjunction with key stakeholders from around the University – like WVU Police.

Procedure during crisis

During a major crisis, all scheduled social media posts should be unscheduled or deleted. This applies to all University-wide accounts. This will allow for a constant and consistent stream of news from official sources.

We also ask that University-related social media accounts refrain from posting their own messages during this time to avoid clutter and the potential for misinformation. Instead, we encourage you to only share official updates from @WVUalert or the WVU Safety and Wellness Facebook page. Those accounts will always have the most updated and accurate information for our University community.

Additionally, do not rely on outside media reports in any crisis situation. To reiterate, only posts from @WVUalert or the WVU Safety and Wellness Facebook page should be shared.

If a University-related Twitter account would like to refer their followers to these accounts for more information, they may do so by posting, “For official updates on the current campus emergency, follow @WVUalert or visit emergency.wvu.edu.” Similarly, a University-related Facebook page can post, “For official updates on the current campus emergency, follow WVU Safety and Wellness or visit emergency.wvu.edu.”

During a crisis, we try our best to keep other social media managers informed through the WVU Social Media Managers Facebook group and/or email. We may provide reminders, information, or instructions to social media managers at that time. 

Once the crisis is deemed to be over, all University-related social media accounts that previously shared crisis-related posts should also share the “all clear” posts from @WVUalert and the WVU Safety and Wellness Facebook page. This closes the loop with your followers and ensures they see that the immediate crisis has ended.

Depending on the severity of the crisis, social media managers should use appropriate judgment to determine when to resume regular posting.

Finally, we ask that you refrain from sharing old news, especially during a crisis. If you have not already done it in the moment, avoid sharing initial crisis messaging after the situation has been resolved and the “all clear” has been sent. Sharing old news may confuse your followers as they may think another crisis is occurring.

Monitoring and tips

If you are on social media during a crisis and see posts that may be used to help in an investigation, please screenshot that post and copy the link to the post. Then, alert University Police at 304-293-2677.

By both screenshotting and copying the link, we ensure that we can still see the information in the screenshot should the user later delete the post, making the link broken.

Questions

If you have any questions about the WVU social media crisis communications plan, please contact Tony Dobies at Anthony.Dobies@mail.wvu.edu or Morgan Goff at mrgoff@mail.wvu.edu.