What is the role of the new media techniques in dissemination of information?
Next, I’m going to share a brief case study about the American Red Cross that illustrates how social media is having a huge impact on nonprofits and more importantly why it is important for nonprofits to pay attention. The Red Cross – through its social media strategy – has discovered that social media can help with: * Monitor and track their brand and reputation * Identify and reach out to new supporters * Raise money This a core set of impacts for nonprofits and it is increasingly happening online and with social media.
The American Red Cross initiated its social media strategy right after Hurricane Katrina. The organization knew there were negative blog posts about its disaster relief efforts, but had no capacity to respond, let alone track. They knew it was doing damage to their brand. They hired Wendy Harman, a social media integrator, to “combat” bloggers and to increase organizational transparency. “ It felt like we were going to war. There were concerns about negative comments, fear even,” They ended up in a much stronger position and more success with their social media effort because they took an incremental approach. They knew they couldn’t run before they walked. and followed these steps: Listening First Engaging and Relationship building Mobilizing their network to leverage donations Scaling A Social Culture
They started a listening program where they had a method of collecting and analyzing what people were saying about them – and who said it. Wendy Harman would prepare daily reports that summarized the tone, volume, and sentiment of what bloggers and people on social networks were saying about them. She would distribute to staff in other departments and affiliates. For example, a blogger was not happy with the quality of a CPR class at an affiliate. Wendy forwarded the link to the affiliate. The director reached out to the person and it helped turned around their impression of the Red Cross. The information was of great interest to the community outreach department and to affiliates – because people were blogging about their experience with the Red Cross in a lot of detail. The outreach department found this valuable in shaping their messaging and strategy – and it was free information!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cursedthing/1286047620/ Listening has helped informed communications strategies. What surprised the staff at the American Red Cross and even Wendy herself, was the majority of these conversations were positive. They found that most are passionate and positive and want to help. Social media provided the Red Cross a way to engage in a conversation with them. Perhaps the biggest benefit and unexpected outcome was that listening drove internal adoption of social media. Wendy says people are no longer afraid of negative comments or posts. Negative comments are now viewed by the organization as an opportunity to educate and improve what they are doing. So this listening, prepared for the next step –engaging and building relationships
http://www.flickr.com/photos/americanredcross/2584636379/ 18 months late, engaging with their stakeholders is part of the staff’s work flow. This photo is the communications staff using their smart phones to engage with people on Twitter. They listen and respond in real time. They hear people complimenting the Red Cross. So they may respond via Twitter with a thank you or relationship building approach. They might hear complaints. First they try to understand whether the complaints are valid complaints of something that needs to be fix or perceptions. For example, there was a complaint about being reminded too often to give blood. Wendy forwarded the information to different affiliates – and as it turned out there was a glitch in their database software and they’re working on improving it. They also track whether or not a person complaining is an influencer. When this happens, they address it right away because it could escalate into a disaster of a PR time. They’re not trying to control the message, they engaging in the conversation.
Last May, when Target announcement that it would be giving away its $3 million to ten organizations based on the percentage of votes they could rally from people on Facebook, the Red Cross was ready. They were able to mobilze enough votes to get 1/3 of the budget. When they first started their social media efforts, the communications staff needed to access Facebook but it was blocked . So, because of the earlier listening efforts had effected a change of attitude about social media, they were able to put into place an internal social media policy. They unblockd Facebook. This was important because staff members who were on Facebook all helped with the mobilization of Red Cross fans to help with the voting process.
They also know that in order to have more impact, they need to scale. They wanted to go beyond having social media be a silo in the communications department, and through the Target experience they realized the value of employee use of social networks/social media. They worked on a social media policy, guidelines and an operational manual so that anyone working in affiliates as well as national could be ambassador on social networks. The guidelines also extend to volunteers. The overall policy is encouraging, not controlling. The operational handbook gives them specific steps, examples, and tips for being effective.
For example, they are able to provide advice and support to their affiliates who want to use Twitter effectively. Show example of all Twitter Accounts http://redcrosschat.org/twitter/ Now they have this network set up in the event of a disaster to quickly spread news/information. Their constituents/donors/stakeholders expect them to have a presence http://redcrosschat.org/twitter/#comment-37060 (screen capture of this comment) Summarize: The Red Cross found value from social media – by monitoring brand, reaching out to new supporters, and mobilizing them – and they did it by following these incremental steps: listen, engagement, build relationships, mobilize and scale It isn’t just Red Cross that has found value in Twitter. Here’s a couple of brief examples.
Listen: Monitor, Compile, Distribute I
took an American Red Cross class I thought was less than satisfactory. […] The local chapter director. called me to talk about it honestly. They care about me and they’re willing to go the extra mile. I am now significantly more likely to take another class than I was before.” - Blogger