Social Simulator: Crisis simulation exercises


The Social Simulator™ is a hands-on, private environment to practice the language, tools and norms of the social web for social media PR and crisis response.

The Simulator uses innovative software to simulate social media debate via a number of commonly used social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, blogs, video and online media sources. This is backed up by role-players who simulate the citizen, media and community reactions in a realistic, real time scenario – from scurrilous hashtag rumours to nasty phone calls. The Simulator works with groups from 2-50, and can take place on-site or remotely across multiple locations.

How can a simulation help?

Adapt your Crisis Management Plan for social media

sitemapUse the Simulator as part of crisis management exercise to see how the teams cope with social media inputs. Analyse the profile of the team’s response in a follow-up debrief.

Practice behind closed doors

dudeRun a full-blown crisis exercise on a private server, behind industrial-strength security. Built-in private messaging and URL shorteners, to keep the exercise private.

Craft messages for instant crisis communications

timePush teams to adapt messages for multiple social media in realtime, including lifelike interactive simulations of Twitter, Facebook and your own website. Handle hostile boycott campaigns and hashtags.

Clear your lines

clearlinesTest your internal and stakeholder communications, incorporating social media profiles for journalists and key exteral contacts. Push your teams to pick up and route enquiries to the right place, whether they’re customers, journalists or staff.

Stress-test customer service teams

cust-servSee how your existing social media management policies fare in a full-blown crisis. Clear your lines of communication between press, PR and digital teams, to ensure statements with the right tone and style can be delivered quickly.

Respond to realistic media stimulus

writingEnsure teams across multiple locations access breaking news reports simultaneously, with the realistic look and feel of global media organisations. Handle fast changing news reports which adapt in realtime to reflect the social media discussion around the crisis

Our simulations are designed with you and your team to ensure a realistic and convincing scenario.

All simulations include a secure, full-scale scenario where our team runs the platform from a separate location to the crisis team who are assigned roles to deal with and manage incoming social media, press articles and a variety of other materials. Ideally suited to groups of between 5-10 key staff, this approach works particularly well, and provides a lifelike and convincing scenario.


Our platform has been deployed to train communications, policy and front line staff in a variety of sectors using a number of scenarios:

  • Terrorist attacks on a major transport hub
  • A leaked report spreads anger about a government policy
  • Reports of malfunctioning prescription medication
  • Virulent tropical illness forces relocation of company staff to alternative premises
  • Military aircraft crash in the Middle East
  • Piracy in the Indian Ocean

As well as real-time inputs, we simulate key moments in the scenario – for example around a breaking broadcast media story – where large volumes of incoming material (usually news clippings) appear at once, for the exercise participants to triage and respond to.

The social simulator creates an environment that looks, feels and responds like a real world event.

Screen shot of The Simulator

How realistic is it?

Working with your crisis team, we develop a customised, branded platform that includes usernames for your teams, mock media articles on duplicates of major news sites and social media characters on social media platforms (usually Twitter and Facebook) that will be the protagonists in the scenario.

The Simulator is a close, but not 100% replica of a number of commonly used templates of Twitter, Facebook and online media sources. In the experience of the dozen or so exercises we have now run for large corporates and government organisations, the teams find the interfaces sufficiently lifelike to be a realistic stimulus.

We will also provide technical support remotely to the teams, monitoring the server and supporting users with any issues they encounter, and providing exports of the materials at the end of the exercises.

The social media crisis simulation put us under pressure in a realistic way and we learned a great deal about our strengths and weaknesses. Highly recommended.
–John Coventry, UK Director of Communications,

Crisis over: now what?

As part of our simulation process we encourage a full debrief of the exercise shortly after it has concluded. Ideally this takes place no longer than one to two days after the event.

A debrief includes:

  • Analysis of volume, tone, response times and messaging within the platform
  • Discussion of other emergency service use of social media in comparable scenarios
  • Suggestions for improved use of technology and capabilities
  • Provision of a number of case studies related to the exercise

What does it cost?

The Social Simulator is a enterprise-level, customised simulation platform. Since we’re not starting each project from scratch, our costs are substantially less than some comparable services offered by other agencies.

Our pricing is based on a per-platform set-up cost, plus as much setup and deployment support to develop the media templates, social media profiles and scenario content as you need for your organisation. For that reason, it’s hard to give specific costs here but we will happily discuss costs with you for a specific project.