Social Media for Emergencies
The world of non profits is based on passion and human connectedness and social media has allowed organizations to do this in a more stream lined and effortless way. Social media gives organizations the opportunity to connect to a larger audience than ever before, instantly. During times of emergency, such as the Haiti earthquake, this instant connection with your audience is a vital part of sharing information, raising funds and mobilizing people. Your supporters are far more frequently on Facebook and Twitter then they are on your website – so social media should be one of the first venues you get the word out about an emergency and also one of the first where you make requests for help.
This likely means having staff or volunteers who manage your social media presence on standby and are ready to message in case of a disaster. If your main staff person is away – or unreachable – do you have a back up? Your best way to be prepared for an emergency with social media is to make sure there are a number of people in your organization who are able to use social media tools. From the field officers right up to senior management – the more people who are able to comfortably post – the faster you can get a response out. Also make sure the lines of approval are clear – in an emergency who needs to approve a message before it goes out? Which news agencies and organizations can you comfortably quote and use as a source of information? Have this confirmed now, before an emergency happens and you’ll be more efficient and streamlined after the emergency occurs.
You also want to be prepared with actions for your audience to take. Facebook Causes has shown itself to be the foremost way to raise money through Facebook. Causes has seen 30 million dollars raised for 27,000 non profits since its inception so it should be a venue through which you try and drive revenue. Other options include linking a donation form to Facebook, allowing people to collect money on your behalf through the Create a Cause Wish for Charity tool, or embedding a donation form on Facebook using an API. Whatever you use, just make sure you are very quickly able to adjust or set up a page for immediate use in cases of emergency.
Take some time in the coming days and weeks and establish an emergency preparedness plan for social media. No one wants disasters to happen but it is the reality of our work that they do happen. Our role working in this sector is to be prepared to act on emergencies. Social media is a gift to non profits as it allows an instantaneous response – we just need to make sure we are ready to use this gift.