Social Media Crisis Management


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Wendy Harman, Director of Social Media Strategy,
American Red Cross

The Chinese say that “crisis” is the combination of “danger” and “opportunity.” Learn
how the Red Cross successfully raised millions in response to catastrophes, and in
addition to tips on how to raise money online, Wendy will share insights on how to
use social media to manage a crisis, and how to empower people to get and give help
through social media.

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  • Introduction Subject of presentation originally One Tweet into $33 Million Campaign will still discuss, but adapted the slides because the theme of the day is Power of Real Time Social Media and we had an incident last week with our Twitter account that you my have heard of So let’s get started by talking about our social media program, which has been around since late 2006.
  • Listening is the most important part of our program. The org is mentioned across social media platforms >1,500 times per day. We read all of them and respond to many of them whether it’s saying thank you or solving a customer service problem, or pointing to additional resources or answering questions.
  • We pick out 15-20 of the “meatiest” mentions each day from that 1,500 total and send out an old-fashioned email called the daily social media update. It’s distributed widely to our employees and we credit it with being the biggest driver in internal social media adoption. PURPOSES: To give a wide internal audience an ambient awareness of the daily conversation. Even if they don’t meticulously read everything, can’t ignore that lots of convos are happening about the work they’re doing every day. To empower all employees and volunteers to jump in and be part of the conversations they’re interested in or have subject matter expertise in .
  • Today we have 2 distinct stakeholder groups (and many more segments within each of them) Clients (victims) – people who are looking for Red Cross services Donors – people who want to help clients We originally focused all of our social activities on providing mission-related value to our client group. We offered real time info on shelter locations and tips for what to do in emergencies. Now, while we continue to concentrate on clients (and just released a shelter location app last wee)k, we are also focusing on inspiring donors to raise funds on our behalf. Philosophy: To empower people to get help and give help.
  • Once we had our philosophy and listening program established, we launched our “home base” sites in all the most populated social online spots. This is where we offer engagement points around 3 things: Providing immediate action items (either online or offline) Providing mission-critical information Inciting discussion around issues we care about (part of listening program is following the news closely so we can tie-in to what people are already talking about every day)
  • We try to be good social citizens, meaning we don’t talk about ourselves and try to get donations all the time – we try to be in the mix. But, we know that as soon as a major disaster happens, our stakeholders are hungry for information, so this is the time for us to push info… and fast. Over the past 4 years we’ve built an SOP that allows us to share the Red Cross response activities in near real-time. We’ve trained a team of 200 public affairs to use social media from the ground so we can give a picture of exactly what we’re doing (plus some color commentary) We’ve formed close relationship with Disaster Services at NHQ – they now know they have to share ALL of their numbers as soon as they have them – where the shelters are, how many meals we’re serving, how many disaster kits we’re distributing, etc This has helped us become quicker and more nimble.
  • As we developed the home bases, our chapter network started asking, “What can we do?” so we developed a handbook that is a step-by-step guide to creating a social strategy that embraces our national philosophy but leaves room for local flavor. After all, the stakeholders in Portland, Oregon are much different than those in Miami, FL. This handbook is available online if you’d like to use it as a resource – just google “American Red Cross Social Media Handbook” and you’ll find it.
  • We had a good amount of practice from 2006 through 2009, so we were prepared when the biggest test came on January 12, 2010, which was the day of the earthquake in Haiti. We had been through this before, so we immediately acknowledged the disaster with a subject matter expert on a flip camera the first video about Haiti to be uploaded to YouTube and was featured on the YouTube home page for 3 days resulting in millions of views. We also began to update the newsroom, facebook, and twitter accounts as often as we had information.
  • You all probably know about the Text HAITI to 90999 campaign. While we had a text2give program in existence, this one wasn’t set up until about 3 hours after the earthquake and was thanks entirely to our relationships with the State Department and mGive. By late January 12, we published our first tweet about the text campaign. For the first 72 hours, social was the only way we were communicating about this action item. From January 12-14 there were 2.3 million tweets about it. Once we saw the success and tremendous outpouring of support, we created an integrated campaign to support it: First Lady Michelle Obama did a PSA urging people to text $10 to the Red Cross, and it was aired on NFL playoff games, featured on Larry King, mentioned on American Idol and highlighted on other telethons and programs. During one NFL playoff game, the text donations were coming in at a rate of $500,000 an hour in $10 increments, which was truly heartening support for the people of Haiti.
  • Here’s what we didn’t count on… Realized people now turning to social platforms to ask for help. I discuss the summit, how we’re working on internal processes to route information, digital volunteer role, collaboration, how we hope this kind of information – not just “I’m about to die” data but also less life-threatening requests can be passed along to decision makers and become part of the situational analysis for operations.
  • Like many of you, our staff at national headquarters and at local chapters have personal twitter handles as well as corporate ones These are just a few of the people who have access to Red Cross accounts around the country So what would happen if one of these people sent out a tweet that was clearly meant for friends to all of our followers? We found out last week…
  • The fact that Ryan found two packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch is indeed exciting, but you may be wondering why the American Red Cross is telling you about it. telling you and 270,000 of our followers. Obviously, the tweet was a mistake, but the error wasn’t discovered right away. In fact, this stayed up for more than an hour until someone from the Chicago chapter called Wendy Harman, the Red Cross social media director, and woke her up. So what to do?
  • Wendy knew that it had to be removed, but she also knew that it couldn’t be ignored and felt that the situation needed a humorous response. After some middle-of-the-night brainstorming with the colleague from Chicago, she posted that the tweet had been deleted, but that the Red Cross was sober. The next day, the transparency continued with another tweet by Gloria (this time on her on account) and a post on the official blog that detailed and explained what had happened. Our team reminded people that although we’re a 130-year-old humanitarian organization, we’re also people and thanked everyone for understanding that. Dogfish Head and beer fans got in on action and asked their followers to donate blood or money to the Red Cross and then send a tweet with #GettngSlizzerd Amazingly enough, there was an uptick in donations on Wednesday … And then the story got bigger and our blog went down because of all the attention it received.
  • The press picked up on our perhaps unexpected reaction and that became a bigger story than the original tweet Praised for owning up to it and responding with humor instead of official apology/corporate speak Credit for putting it in perspective and appearing human
  • So why did we get the response we did? SUBJECT the original tweet was a lighthearted post about beer As our social media director said, “we deal in life changing disasters every day… this wasn’t one of them.” TIMING Although local chapters respond to incidents such as single family house fires each day no major national operation like Haiti, hurricanes or even Calif wildfire HONESTY we didn’t claim that we had been hit by hackers or that a virus had infiltrated our system. We said it was a mistake and owned it. HUMOR We had an employee send out a tweet about beer to 270,000 people… it is kind of funny. And everyone involved - from the Red Cross, to Dogfish and HootSuite - had a sense of humor about it. TRANSPARENT Our social media team explained, in detail, what had happened Didn’t try to sweep it under the rug (wouldn’t have worked anyway) AUTHENTIC We didn’t manufacture anything. It was a genuine mistake followed by a genuine swell of good will.
  • Thank you so much for the opportunity to be with you here today. I look forward to continued collaboration
  • Social Media Crisis Management

    1. 1. hi. welcome to American Red Cross social media.
    2. 2. Listen
    3. 5. philosophy: to empower people to get help and give help help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies with social media
    4. 6. here’s some of our official social media stuff Blog   l  Twitter   l  Facebook   l  DisasterNewsroom   l  Flickr   l  YouTube   l  Good2Gether   l  LinkedIn   l  SocialVibe   l  Ammado
    5. 8. this guide is not just for communicators and marketers it’s for anyone who: spends time online and is a Red Crosser
    6. 10. Text Haiti Donation Spikes News of the Haiti earthquake spread rapidly Larry King Live Special American Idol Super Bowl NFL Playoff Games Spikes spurred by social media, news, broadcast promotions Sábado Gigante Telethon
    7. 12. When Twitter Accounts Collide @PatrickSallee @NadiaCP @00dawn @RobinParker @TheBaileyBrand @wharman @riaglo @infobabe @your_mssunshine @NealDenton @SiobhanK524 @danelle @MarthaCarlos @allierose @kristianakocis @deirby @sweenyj @DaphneHart @MOinkslinger @erincounihan @BritishPat @jonlode
    8. 14. How We Handled #GettngSlizzerd
    9. 15. The Response
    10. 16. <ul><li>Subject </li></ul><ul><li>Timing </li></ul><ul><li>Honest </li></ul><ul><li>Humor </li></ul><ul><li>Transparent </li></ul><ul><li>Authentic </li></ul>
    11. 17. Thank you!