Social Media Aid Builds on Relationships

Ana Cantu, Dell enterprise technology blogger | 3/16/2012 | 12 comments

Ana Cantu
Success in social media relies on how well an organization engages with its followers and fans. People are more likely to pay attention to companies, nonprofits, and individuals they trust. That's a lesson the Red Cross has taken to heart.

Extreme weather events and other disasters -- like tornadoes, fires, and hurricanes -- often send people who've lost power and access to other forms of media to networks like Facebook and Twitter for help and information.

In the wake of flooding in Louisiana, the Red Cross posted valuable information on what to do if a flood threatens your home on its Facebook page. With large swaths of the US vulnerable to tornados, the organization also tweeted a series of tips on disaster preparedness.

In addition to posting news updates on its blog, the Red Cross also maintains free mobile apps that provide shelter locations and teach first aid and CPR. And its Safe & Well Website, which allows users in a disaster area to tell people they're OK, can sync updates with Facebook and Twitter.

Those kinds of innovations come in handy, especially considering the Red Cross responded to nearly 63,000 fires, nearly 2,000 floods, more than 520 tornadoes, and other incidents in 2011.

To make its humanitarian efforts more efficient, the Red Cross recently launched its Digital Operations Center to assist disaster victims as well as coordinate the efforts of volunteers. The center is modeled on Dell's Social Media Listening Command Center and uses Dell technology solutions and consulting services.

SXSW 2012 attendees got to check out Dell's  Social Media Listening and Command Center.  Photo credit: Samantha Needham / Dell
SXSW 2012 attendees got to check out Dell's
Social Media Listening and Command Center.
Photo credit: Samantha Needham / Dell

Like Dell's command center, the Red Cross version pulls in data from various platforms and aggregates it to give volunteers a clear idea of the situation on the ground and connect those affected with resources.

One reason the Red Cross has been so effective on social networks is that its efforts build on the hard work that its employees and volunteers do every day. Social media just offers one more way to fulfill its mission -- to alleviate suffering and ensure that people are prepared to respond to any disaster.

Follow me (@AnaCatDell) on Twitter for technology news and commentary.

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glenbren   Social Media Aid Builds on Relationships   3/26/2012 12:47:01 AM
Re: Impressive
I hope more organizations will start to make use of Facebook and other social media like the Red Cross has done. Especially in situations where a person's only connection is a cell phone, mobile apps and Facebook updates might be the only way to keep informed and get (and provide) vital information.
Umair Ahmed   Social Media Aid Builds on Relationships   3/25/2012 5:26:35 PM

Efforts of the red cross are truly appreciable. I am most impressed by the mobile apps that provide the details for shelter locations and aid tips. This kind of innovation is almost unimaginable from a non-profit organization.

WaqasAltaf   Social Media Aid Builds on Relationships   3/23/2012 11:54:39 AM
Re: Social for good
"Often people are trapped indoors during these situations and as long as they have a working internet connection, they can seek help from others and help those in need."


True. However, there is also a prerequisite for internet use in these situations; the stable condition of the infrastructure that is necessary to connect to the internet. Considering the rapid growth of smartphone users around the globe, the effectiveness off social media in disaster situations is likely to increase as devices like smartphones can work without much infrastructure required.
maou_villlaflores   Social Media Aid Builds on Relationships   3/21/2012 9:23:29 PM
Re: better relationships
Nice... I think mobilization  of the CSR projects of the companies can be easily done through social media with lesser cost.
Taimoor Zubair   Social Media Aid Builds on Relationships   3/21/2012 6:51:12 AM
Re: Step towards image building
"I also think that big brands should learn from Dell too and can provide support to other organizations in terms of technology assistance."

Companies like Dell have an edge on technology and I think the best they can do in the way of CSR would be to help charity and relief organizations adopt and manage new technology. Because of the expertise these companies have, assisting in technology would indeed be more effective than financial contributions.
Taimoor Zubair   Social Media Aid Builds on Relationships   3/21/2012 6:48:08 AM
Re: Social for good
Because of the ease to share information with the masses, social media is indeed a great tool that can be of immense help during disaster situations. Often people are trapped indoors during these situations and as long as they have a working internet connection, they can seek help from others and help those in need.
Pedro Gonzales   Social Media Aid Builds on Relationships   3/20/2012 11:21:27 PM
better relationships
I'm really happy to see examples like this on how social media is being used to help support organization such as the red cross, i think the match makes sense because volunteers need to be in constant contact with each other and people need to be updated about the situation on the ground at all times,
impactnow   Social Media Aid Builds on Relationships   3/19/2012 10:55:21 PM
Social for good

It is really a perfect use for social media building community and support during times of the greatest need. Many other non profits could benefit from this approach and I am certain it could assist with their fundraising efforts.

Technocrat   Social Media Aid Builds on Relationships   3/19/2012 8:58:10 AM
Re: Step towards image building

I think is it fantastic how the Red Cross is using social networking.  I am really glad to see it ( social networking ) serve a larger humanitarian role and I hope more companies follow the lead of the Red Cross and not just use this vehicle as a means to monitor , learn and sell - but also to contribute to society in a meaningful way.

kicheko   Social Media Aid Builds on Relationships   3/19/2012 4:39:13 AM
Re: Step towards image building
Social media has brought true globalization to the internet. Today it is so much easier for people to unite around a common cause such as applauding an athlete, helping victims of a disaster, decrying some injustice etcetera. The result is that even large humanitarian organisations such as red cross have found social media to be the most effective way to make an impact. To communicate to people about what they can do to help in a crisis situation, and to feed the people's hunger for information during times of such crises.
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