Tap Facebook Greetings, Saved Replies, and InBox to efficiently reach consumers 

With the rise of messaging, crisis communication plans must address how to use Facebook Messenger during an extended outage.

Pioneer member Kristin Evans, vice president of communications at Florida’s Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative, learned this the hard way when Hurricane Michael struck in 2018.

“You’ve got private messages rolling in,” Kristin says. “People are going to go nuts. Change your Messenger settings.”

Storm-Harden Social Tools

facebook return messageGet comfortable with Facebook Messenger features before a crisis. Every Facebook page has an inbox, where you can see public comments and private messages from Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct.

Use Facebook’s Saved Replies feature to set up quick, personalized responses to common questions.

Kristin added two trusted communicators as backup administrators when she could not reach Facebook herself.

“They deleted a lot of messages for meand marked a lot as done,” Kristin says. “They put a star by messages I needed to look at.”

Using your Facebook Page Inbox, create labels for incoming messages (i.e. outage report or safety issue). This helps you and other admins keep related messages together. You can also assign messages to page administrators, or highlight an important message with a star.

But Kristin advises the first step to managing Messenger during an extended outage is to change your chat status to ‘away.’ For up to 12 hours, this feature removes the Messenger button that prompts consumers to ask if anyone is available to chat.

“There are legitimate messages you need to see—safety concerns that must be addressed,” Kristin says. “When you’re having to filter through comments and messages, you don’t need people reaching out and asking to chat.”

The co-op updated their Messenger Greeting to say, ‘We have catastrophic damage. We are aware of the outages. Please do not message us asking for specific restoration times.’

Our free eBook, How to Harness Messaging, walks you through how to create saved replies and explains how chatbots might help during a crisis, too. I put together a presentation for Kansas Electric Cooperatives showing how these tools work; watch the 20-minute training video.

How Will You Respond to a Crisis?

Cover of the eBook, Coping with a CrisisReady to learn more? Our free eBook, Coping with a Crisis, offers insights from battle-tested communicators who survived losing critical communication channels. Get sample communication plans, checklists, and templates to help you weather disaster.

Have tips you’d like to share? Add them below or email Megan.