The compassion and generosity displayed following the earthquakes in Haiti has been remarkable. We’ve seen this before many times – a natural or man-made disaster inspires the very best from inside us. But, for me, Haiti feels different. In large part, social media is to thank for its uniqueness. Social media has given us instant updates. It’s given us the ability to make an impact, to play a part in the recovery effort, immediately. Through a text messaging campaign, The American Red Cross has raised more than $8 million as of January 28. “The needs are so tremendous in Haiti, and we are honored that people continue to give to the American Red Cross. Raising this amount of money, $10 at a time, is a true testament to the American spirit,” said Susan Watson, Director of Marketing and Visibility for the Red Cross. The giving hasn’t stopped with the Red Cross. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund has a text message program in place for Americans and for Canadians as well. iTunes, Threadless and Tom’s Shoes are also donating their proceeds to Haiti relief.
An amazing case study has emerged; its main message: social media has made the world smaller. It connects people from around the globe in real time. Because of social media, people, everywhere, have been able to instantly do something to help in Haiti. From on-the-ground relief efforts to gestures of hope, the world reacted in a new way. Social media’s role was critical to delivering information about the damage and relief efforts. The world was counting on platforms like Facebook and Twitter for updates. Within minutes of the quake, photos and videos were shared on Flickr and YouTube. According to Nielsen, nearly 3% of all blog posts have something to do with the Haitian quake or relief efforts, with Twitter posts as the leading source. Nielsen says the Twitter account for the Red Cross has gained more than 10,000 followers since the earthquake, compared to 50 to 100 per day in the days prior. Is this outreach a glimpse into the future of fundraising, relief efforts and marketing?