13: Boston University’s Social Media Etiquette During National Tragedies w/ Kat Cornetta

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Kat Cornetta, Assistant to the Dean of Students at Boston University, discusses why the best social media response during a national tragedy may very well be silence.

Really quick before we get into theshow today, I wanted to share something fun with you and he licks. We recentlyturned our enromant growth playbook into a video game in Roman growth. Herois a quick ten minute dialogue based game in which you, the hero, work withother campus leaders to put together an in Roman gowth strategy for yourinstitution. If you ever shared the Inroman girth playbook with a colleaguewho never read it tell them about in Roman Groth Hero. Instead, it coversvery similar content and thell actually learn a lot. There's also a secretprize inside the game for curious explorers. So when you get to worktoday, visit he licks Educationcom hero to play, you're, listening to enrolment growth,university from heliks education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and romant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to Anroman GrowthUniversity, I', Mar Golson AVP of marketing at heelics education andwe're here today with cat CORNETTA assistant, O the den of students atBoston University cat thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you forhaving me jet- and I are both members of the Hashtag hired Social Group onfacebook and the group had a really fascinating conversation the other weekabout social media etiquette in times of national tragedy, but before we kindof dive into the highlights from that discussion cat, can you get thelisteners a little bit better understanding of both Boston Universityand your role theere? I definitely can so Boston University is a largeresearch university in the heart of Boston. We have about sixteen sandundergraduate students, many of them live on campus. We alsohave an extremely large graduate student population. We have schoolsthat cover medicine gental. We have social work, we have. Basically, if you want to major on it,we have it.

So we it's very large, very varing, andwe have a student Porty that comes from all over the globe and I'm in Ardeenostudents office. I assist our associate Povos in deno students. Kenithelmorwho's been around the social media in higher education circles for a verylong time we're one of the first schools te Putirdin of students onsocial media and really set the pace for some of our competitor schools whenit came to their use of social media in a student like context, so I have beenhere for eleven years as assistant to the den of students and I handle socialmedia. I handle our website updating our web strategy, our communicationswith media book student and outside Menia, and have a bunch of otherresponsibilities as well so outside of the communication space. Awesome Kathanks for that overview, given the overwhelming amount of overwhelmingevents latly, I think a lot of social media managers like yourself are havingto make the call as to what kind of response is appropriate in times ofnational tragedy and whether or not the most appropriate response is actuallysometimes silence. Talk about the approach that you and your team take itbu when national tragedies occur. So just the start, I can speak only aboutour office and our social media outreach, not the entire universities,but our office Ar Tean really early on was very big about being silence for aperiod of time, because we couldn't just there's so much uncertainty when atragedy, either on campus or off campus nationally happens, there's so muchuncertainty in those first couple of hours that anything we would post wouldjust add to the noise and just be somewhat confusing and almost opportunistic before we have allthe details before things have...

...before we fully even know the scope of,what's going on, to jump right in just feels very unnecessary we'd, rather besilent for a fair amount of time until everything comes out until the eventeven stops to find out how it impacted our students and what the appropriateresponse would be, and I was really concerned when we first when my deansaid this was what we wanted to do: Strategy Wise Yeah, but our studentshave never reacted corly to it, and for that I'm thankful. I think they'regreatful for are not jumping on to social media right away. Tso One timewe kind of put that strategy aside was during the Bosson Maraphon botbings. Wedid have a student who unfortunately passed a weight in those bombings andbecause they were so close to our campus, we couldn't be silent. We hadto update our students with what was going on what areas of Boston wereclosed when we were on lack or down, you know what to do. While we were onlackdown. We couldn't be silent during that, but national, Trasisotiese and campus tragedies we tend to you know wehave that silence for a lit period of time. I think that issue of procucimityto the tragedy super important an then some of that we're going to dig to digdown deeper in a little bit. My first hard lesson- and this actually happenedsimilarly after the Boston Marathon bombing back in to thousand andthirteen about an hour after the incidents with everyone glued to thenews and social media for Information and answers in auto post. Our team hadset up with hoot sweet a few days prior posted about cheerleading tryoutshappening later that afternoon, and it was inappropriate and insensitive givinthe events. If the morning we took down the post immediately once we realizedit was up, but that was about a half an hour after it was posted, and Ipersonally decided that I would never use autoposting again. Do you have aspecific position on auto posting and how to balance the convenience? Some ofthese tools offer with the rare but...

...potentially disastrous moments that canbe created from it as well. So my deam is very against auto post Tang yeah, soI try not to use it. There are times, however, that andhe'll hear this ind. This is fine that I occcasionally use, auto posting inthe variety of Social Mediam monitoring and listening tools that we've had overthe years. We've used three different ones and this they all have thatcapability of the auto posting, because the last thing on your mind andsomething big happens either on campus or nationally is oh, my gosh. I got toturn off the autoposting. Yes, I almost get scared kind of superstitious aboutputting anything on Auto Postin because I'm like Oh what, if I finally putsomething on auto posting, I finally use that feature and that's the time itjust goes horribly Hong, I'm just asking for something to go horriblywrong, but I have used it and things have been fine, but it is. I try not touse it a lot. I didn't even use it when I went out INM Mut, alreadyl ie as so scared, so I tend not to useit either and especially, sadly, in this day and age, I really can't use itbecause anything there's just so much going on that anything could be teemedinsensitive. If you know I might not even be awakeyet and something my post and who knows what has happened in the world while IVslept. So I really can't use it these days. Yeah and that's a good tip to interms of if you're, using it and relying on it, make sure that thessecond something in the national easor happens. You jump on immediately andpause it as well as looking back to things you might have posted in thepreceeding few hours that might still be active in people's channels and anmargument would be to consider deleading it. If you can, you can, evenif, from a chronological standpoint,...

...you're in the clear from a perceptionstamp Le, you might not be well, and the other thing is when I do use autoposting either here in my job Tbu or in the social media work I do outside ofVeyou I'll, maybe sad sed it for two hours in advance at most yeah and youit that way and well, that's not really what those autopiece posting featuresare for. That's really the only span of time I feel safe. Sometimes so, if youdo use it, maybe don't post you ow, don't schedule things for a week outjust schedule things for that day. Take the time that morning and do your autopost for that day and just that day, good, O can'. Let's get back to thatproximity point you made earlier that the conversation on our facebook groupWis really interesting, with different social media managers, taking verydifferent stances on when to be silent versus Wen to speak on, for instance,on the day of the recent Vegas. Shooting unlb took a very differentapproach to be you oultd argue not only appropriately but essential, giventheir close proximity to the events. They use social media to set up a Vigalin a time for students to be able together that next evening and Morn,the president of the university ouse social, to share a message: the Camscommunity, while other institutions not as physically close to Las Vegasintentionally, chose radio silence. How do you and your team choose when andwhen not to respond, and it is it primarily based on whether or not thetragedy has an obvious direct impact on your camps? Community, we is so itdefinitely is all about proximity, Boston Marathon, for instance, Tho intwo thousand and thirteen. We had to use social to get out informationquickly because that was just down the street. If anyone knows or Bou is inBoston, you'll know how close it is to where those bombings occurred. If youaren't familiar with Tbe you, it was less was about a mile away, maybe alittle bit more than a mile away, but...

...our students use. We have the day ofton marathon Monday.It is a giant day for the students to go out into Boston and watch themarathon and do other things which we won't get into, but they like to enjoy themselves and they.So we knew we had students there. There was no doubt in their mind. We hadstudents at those spots, so we had to gite out information and we had to getinformation out quickly and we use social media to do that. But if it'snot nearby, we do tend to go silent because there's nothing we could givein that on social and that first couple hours that is going to help theconversation we do reach out to students, impacted via email and welltend to make sure that email goes out to those students who live or from thatarea will send that email out before we evenput anything on social media and that to us is important, because it's moreimportant for us to reach out to those students who might be in impacted assoon as possible, then to put a token social media thoughts and prayers stylemessage out, for instance. So what? When the shooting happened in Las Vegas,our first step was not to put anything on social media, but in the hoursdirectly. After that, we were getting a list of students from NEBATA. We weresending them an email. We were coordinating counseling services forthem when they contacted us and said I need to talk to someone. We wereheating them in contact with counseling services or our religious lifeimmediately. That was more our focus than putting out something on SocialMedia Atyou every. Sadly, almost every national or global tragedy that happenshas an impact on some of our students,...

...because our campus is so large and ourstudent bodity is so varid yeah. So we have to do that a lot and we have totake that stance a lot and and that's the way we tended to do it.Our main social channels for the university might do things a differentway, but they tend to go silent for a period of time as well. Just so we canget all of our vacccin around really really great advice: Cat to Youryourearlier point about the appearance of being opportunistic. I think it'simportant to discuss potential backlash. Thay can come from from speaking if youlook outside of higher red, for instance, after the Paris attacks,Amazon put up an image of the French flag and they also removed all of therecommended products from their homepage as a global brand. They wantedto pay tribute, but they intentionally removed any potential optics, that itwas a selfserving move, whereas on the anniversary of nine eleven Kenneth Coal,on the other hand, ran nine plus eleven equals twenty percent off sale and theyreceived much deserved backlash. Anything High Red can learn from seeinghow other brands navigate tragedy both effectively and not. There aredefinitely things we learn from how Brans mishandle events that go on, thenthere is definite things we learn from rands that handle it right. I think thething that we've learned from all of this and unfortunately the fair amountof tragedy that our campus had in the pastent decade, because not justnationally we've had we had one year where we had eightstudent decks and in a very short period of time, and we had that. You know that to us wehave to handle very similar to how we handle national tragedy, and one thingwe learned early on was: There are going to be people that find anyoutreach inappropriate. Whatever we do, whatever welth thought out, plans and...

...strategy, we have people, emotions runhigh and people are going to find things appropriate and I think you'llsee that in Brans as well any addressing of a tragedy that a braindoes is going to be taken well and it's going to be taken poorly, no matter howappropriate it is, I'm sure there's people that disliked what Amazon didand I'm sure there's people who liked what kind of Co is. You know, I thinkit's highly inappropriate, I am sure, there's some people that took advantageof that shot. Yeah. I think it's one of those times where you haveto drow Uon your thick skin as a social media manager or anyone who works incommunications and realize emotions run high and people are going to reactstrongly one way or another and you're going to get that variety of people wholove it and people who hate it and think you're being highly inappropriate,and I'm sure I mean there are students, I'm sure who may may not say this to us,but think that our silence is inappropriate and N. I'm sure there arestudents that think that, and I think in that's just something it's what'sworked best for us, but I am sure other people- and I know from that discussionthat we were on there- are people who think that it is inappropriate- and Ithat's just that's social meanat. That's monitoring social media thit's.There's no right answer all of the time: okay, really good stuff, any last tipsfor social media managers looking to crystallize it. What a crisiscommunications plan looks like at their institution even for something whet.It's not specifically their crisis. I think overarchingly, on of our besttips, has been communication. If you're a large university and they're amultiple major social media counts that students turn to being able to get onthe phone or email or a text with the people that control those accounts. Ourkey we when we were developing our...

...crisis communications plan years ago, Isadly we had come up with one years ago. We have a way that we can allcommunicate quickly amongst people who update Social Menia on campus. Wecommunicate quickly in emergencies. We have backup ways to communicate. Wi'lluse: what's APP, will use text well use phone just being really open andcommunicating as to what's going on, and I I mean, sadly I think that'ssomething we you know to be oven. We haven't done as much lately and we needto get back into the habit of, but really being open, communicating andreally trying to get on that same page and, sadly, developing a plan before ithappens. Knowing that we're going to send out our first line and response isgoing to be that email to affected students and then going the socialmedia knowing that and having that planned out in advance and having thatan excel having that in a project management sheet wathever. However, youorganize your work and having that information shared amongst your team,that's really key as well. I really preplanning is really important, reallygreat practical advice, cad cat thanks, so much fo're joining us today. What'sthe best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any fellowupquestions, they can always tweet me because I love Twat. You can find me at cat CORNETTA andit's cat with a k. So it's Kat cor N, Etta Tha. You can sweet me whenever youcan also email me at cat corn at te that Dou Kat corn at Tutevou, likecandy forn kind of- and this is the Halloween Togu on herfor. So there'sthat's a perfect way to think about it. She's a great person to no folks thanksagain so much for doning us today can...

...thank you eric. This has been awesome. You've been listening to enromintgrowth university from helics education to ensure that you never miss anepisode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thankyou so much for listening until next time.

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