The Ultimate Mass Notification Tool: Social Media

The Ultimate Mass Notification Tool: Social Media

You see it all the time. Hotels, airlines, even police departments are using social media as a way to further their audience when speaking about security related issues rather than implement a mass notification system.

This topic struck my attention as I was visiting the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida last week. Megan Paquin, APR, marketing manager for the hotel stated the hotel’s social media is monitored by a third party source because some guests would rather tweet, or post on Facebook about an emergency situation rather than call the hotel’s emergency contact number.

“The third party monitor called a hotel in our system to tell them that someone had tweeted about a fire in their room,” Paquin said. “They hadn’t even tried to contact the hotel, they just tweeted.”

The situation took me by surprise. Is social media so streamlined and integrated into our everyday lives that it is even more popular than 911?

You see examples of social media users using an online platform to get a company to recognize their problems every day. There are plenty of people who have no shame in spamming a company about their problem until, finally, a representative responds. I used to think this was a bit of a last resort, but now it seems that this is the preferred method of contact for most consumers.

So what do companies do when they realize they have a platform that has gained a large audience? They use it. They use it for everything, including security concerns.

When asked if the Hyatt Regency had a mass notification system, Paquin and Fred Prassack, CLSD, director of security, talked at length about their various intercoms and even their abilities to tap into the television sets in the guest rooms, but when it came to pushing a specific message to those who were outside the hotel, they said they would use their social media platforms.

The ability to instantaneously warn a large amount of people about a security concern on a platform like Twitter is attractive to the Hyatt Regency. Twitter allows users to get a message out quickly, like any other mass notification system would, but Twitter allows for conversation to blossom from that notification.

While most mass notification systems are interested in pushing out one unified message, social media platforms allow you to quickly and efficiently monitor the conversation that comes from the announcement while also letting you reply back to questions. Sometimes important questions are left unanswered when a traditional mass notification system is used because it doesn’t cultivate conversation. Most times, when a notification system is used, receivers of the message will take to Twitter or Facebook to discuss.

The best example of social media becoming the preferred platform of communication within the security industry is the integration of Facebook and Twitter into police investigations. Almost every police department across the country has a Facebook page or Twitter account that is used for both emergency situations and for community engagement in ongoing investigations.

Whenever someone hears of breaking news, the first instinct is not to go turn on the news; it is to check Twitter or Facebook. Usually, although not always, the police department in the area of the situation has rushed to get a statement to the social media platforms in an effort to warn or calm down the general public.

Perhaps the biggest pull of using social media as a mass notification system is the ability for it to work both ways. Not only can a company or police department alert an audience, but an audience can alert them as well.

Have you seen examples of companies or police departments using social media as a notification system? What are your thoughts? Should mass notification systems try to streamline social media platforms into their programs?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or tell me about your opinions by tweeting at me using the handle @SecProdsSydny.

Posted by Sydny Shepard on May 17, 2016

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