Communicating Weather Closures Via Social Media

Written by Mike on January 30, 2014

This past week, large parts of the country were affected by cold weather, snow and ice. We here in Northeast Ohio were no exception – we were lucky enough to get a second round of polar vortex chilling temperatures.

One of the fun parts of my job is monitoring social media, and Monday afternoon we started getting bombarded with tweets from students asking if we were going to close because of the weather and cancel classes on Tuesday.

As more and more local colleges and universities started to close, the tweets increased, calling for us to close. I did my best to respond, saying that as soon as we heard from the administration about our status for Tuesday, we’d announce it via email, web, text message and social media.

I did have a bit of fun–replying with this meme to one student:

Boromir describes the weather

At one point, we had to deal with a student who changed his name to John CarrollU and stole our avatar and started posting messages that the University was closed. After I noticed a few retweets of that story, I had to @ message him to cease, take down the tweet and change his icon. Luckily, he did.

To be safe, I sent this message out.

When the word finally did come that we were going to close Tuesday, we used our regular closing protocols, but this time, I added a graphical element to our closing messages. I created a Photoshop document with a few different weather contingencies, including we’re open, we’re closed or we’re delayed. In today’s short attention span world, I figured it’s easier to just show them. So here are the social media messages we sent out Monday night:

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.01.30 AMScreen Shot 2014-01-30 at 10.01.03 AM

I’m happy with the results – I think the only thing I’d add next time is also posting this to Instagram. We have a lot of students there and it’s a great visual medium especially with the quick scanning you do there. If social media isn’t part of your emergency weather communications mix, it should be.