The internet makes it possible to share information all over the world. People from anywhere are able to communicate, share pictures and stories, and in general form a type of “community” all their own. So, are you wondering where this is leading? Of course you are!
Social media is a great way to get the word out anytime something happens, either good or bad, and the directors of the Red Cross know this, in particular, the Social Media Director. This is where the Red Cross hears what people are saying about the organization, and they take all the information quite seriously and look for ways to improve the group and its efforts. If any information is incorrect or simply not true, social media is used as a way to get the truth out there to everyone. Most people are not willing to accept a simple answer because what they are looking for is change.
The Red Cross didn’t used to be much of a social media user, but in light of events that affected the whole world, the organization realized this was the perfect forum to affect changing times when needed, but it wasn’t until the horrendous and devastating earthquake in Haiti that not only changed the life of these people, but the Red Cross as well. By sponsoring fundraisers and getting the word out on television, radio, and the internet, millions of dollars were raised for the Haiti relief effort. By using social media to inform the public, the Red Cross managed to raise $284 million dollars in donations in just a little over one month.
$80 million of those dollars were sent to Haiti to meet the overwhelming needs of the people living there, and a whopping $20 million dollars was raised because the Red Cross implemented the text message donation page-where people worldwide were asked to text the words “Haiti” from their cell phones. A $10 pledge was all it took to raise all those millions, so imagine how many people donated! The text program still exists today, has the backing of the US State Department, and people can still donate if they wish. Now, that is just one way to put your cell phone to good use, isn’t it?
Website for Hurricane Effort in Haiti
A separate website was also established, as well as a blog in conjunction with the hurricane effort in Haiti. People who have lost, or are looking for loved ones, can use the blog to communicate with other family members. Flickr brought photos to the public eye, and currently have generated over 1 million views. Facebook and Twitter were able to keep people updated in real time as to the situation in Haiti, publish updates, and other information pertinent to the disaster, proving that social media is a valuable tool, and not just something to play around on. I find it a great source and a wealth of information for anything that is happening in the news today. Yes, some of the information posted may be biased or even incorrect, but compared to years ago when all we had to rely on for incoming news was the radio, newspaper, or television, social media gets the word out faster and spreads further than you can imagine.
Thankfully, the Red Cross of America realized that they were not utilizing everything that was available to them for spreading the word, and made the decision to use social media to call for donations and assistance. Who is to say what would have happened in Haiti if this media was not in place? Surely help would have come, but undoubtedly it would have taken much more time.