Why social media needs to be part of risk strategy

“Whether we agree or disagree philosophically is unimportant. The idea of a social network powered by the internet is here to stay.”

Social media has become a critical tool for the modern age. Everyone from retirees to teenagers are a part of a larger network where sharing life updates and communicating is easier than ever.

The usefulness of social media has been utilised for years by global education programs in recruiting practices but is it possible to use the powers of social media to help us with our risk management? Bradley Adams, a managing director at Aerogami, explains.

Over the years major world events have driven social media companies to develop risk management features. For example, Facebook added the safety check-in feature during the 2015 Paris Attack. However there haven’t been many other developments because social media companies are not in the risk management business, but with a little help social media platforms offer the greatest opportunity for staying connected with students in an emergency.

The most common use case we hear today is offices using WhatsApp to place travellers in organised groups with faculty leaders or other office staff members to make communicating easy and accessible. However, this set up can lead to challenges during an emergency. Since these platforms have no way of organising the responses, it can lead to more confusion as messages pour in. This is the challenge we solved with our platform Parachute.

The WhatsApp example is a good segue into what makes social media such a great opportunity. With social media, every student has the same login/account domestically as they do internationally making it the perfect place for a check-in or to reach them in a crisis.

Another benefit to incorporating social media within the risk management process for global education is that travellers are checking these platforms often, most everyday. Having travellers’ attention is half the battle of getting a response and these platforms have the answer built in.

Now that we are in agreement that social media would have benefits in risk management scenarios how do we begin to set up? The good news is there are plenty of free options available. A Facebook page is free to set up and can offer features like the safety check-in mentioned earlier as well as the ability to organise messages that come into the page. This includes Instagram direct messages as well if the two accounts are paired together.

After 2020, resources for every office are strained. It is no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic impacted travel and higher education particularly hard, especially for medium sized or smaller campuses. Now, more than ever it’s critical that every resource is stretched.

Once again, this is where social media provides an opportunity within risk management. Most platforms are free to use, so there is literally no financial capital needed to get it incorporated in your office’s strategies. The energy and time is the only cost.

It is not all peaches and cream for social media platforms, though. There are some drawbacks that have been revealed over the past several years. The main concern is regarding the privacy and data collection policies that social media platforms hold. This has been well covered by independent researchers as well as major news sources, so it’s no secret to any social media user.

Gen Z seems unfazed by social media data policies, and is frequently cited as caring much less about privacy than previous generations. Students are well-versed in these realities and most still choose to be a part of these platforms because the pros far outweigh the cons.

Whether we agree or disagree philosophically is unimportant. The idea of a social network powered by the internet is here to stay, so we might as well take full advantage of the free resource.


About the author: Bradley Adams is a managing director at Aerogami, a mobile technology company building products to deliver duty of care services. Since his own abroad experience in 2015, Adams has been working with universities to bring more technology into risk management practices.