Recent shark attacks at an Oak Island, NC beach have resulted in ample amounts of media attention and public fear. Though shark attacks are rare, two attacks happening less than 90 minutes apart is enough to make a small beach resort town feel like it’s living a real-life adaption of Jaws.

In the midst of all the chaos, the folks manning the Oak Island Facebook page kept cool heads and responded quickly, acknowledging the public’s fear and addressing the situation.

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Rather than attempting to allay fears by stressing the statistical rarity of shark attacks, the Oak Island Facebook page helps people understand why attacks happen in the first place. The post’s tone is not defensive, it is sensitive to the victims, and it provides solid information that beachgoers can use to decrease the likelihood that they will be a victim of a shark attack.

The folks behind the Oak Island Facebook page correctly realized that rationale arguments typically do little to address emotional responses. Instead, they provided timely, relevant information that people can use to make decisions for themselves. They didn’t tell people what to think; they gave them something to think about next time they go into the ocean.

The response to the post is overwhelmingly positive: thousands of likes, nearly 20,000 shares, and a slew of supportive comments including ones from a woman whose daughter survived a shark bite a few years before.

It’s nice to see social media used well for a change.


This post also appears on Word of Mouse.