Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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October 18, 2011

Social Donations: How American Red Cross is transforming this concept with social media

We are all living in a tough economy where the jobs are tough to obtain and the cost of items and household goods continues to rise.  Even with these daily challenge, the rise of having corporations giving back to society with their cause-related marketing initiatives or corporate social responsibility activities continues to be on the frontline.  Environmental, social, and community issues are all integrated into their corporate and strategic plans – it is becoming an expectation for these organizations to be able to promote sustainability for their business as well as for their community with supporting these various issues and causes.

However, most of these donations or actions cost money – so is there a way to donate without necessarily donating financially?  What about the issues of transparency in terms of actually following where your donations actually end up?  How can we advocate and influence our friends and others in our social community to donate as well?  These are just a few questions that seem to come up, but have no fear – the American Red Cross has found one way people can donate without spending money – and they can track how their donations will be spent.  Here is the video discussing their new social donation campaign:

American Red Cross is initiating their social donation feature called “Donate your Miles,” which allows individuals to donate their frequent flyer miles to American Red Cross volunteers so they can travel to various places to support relief efforts in a natural disaster.  They will also allow you to share this information via Twitter and Facebook – creating the opportunity to look at your own social influence in your social media community.  In addition, the American Red Cross will show you through pictures, updates, and maps where your flight miles are going through your mobile device.

In my opinion, I think that the American Red Cross did a very good job in making the rationale between addressing a core issue that they are facing (expense in traveling volunteers around the world) and coming up with a strategic and insightful way to approach how to fix this problem.  Their messages in the campaign were on target and they were able to use social media (ex. Facebook and Twitter) along with new mobile media (applications) for people to use to participate in this campaign.  It is a great combination of cause-related marketing, social media, and relationship management principles all into one campaign.It will be interesting to see the results and metrics from this integrated social media campaign.

In summary, the American Red Cross has certainly has set the standard for social media communication practices and guidelines for PR and Strategic Communication professionals from their non-profit communication activities to their emergency/disaster/crisis communication strategies and guidelines.  The American Red Cross has been one of the first organizations to implement a QR Code during a disaster situation (Japan Tsunami in March 2011).  They have also been very active in presenting and sharing their research with the communication and business communities, which is great to enhance a dialogue and discussion on where new emerging media will go next and what we can all do to help evolve our practices and behaviors in the digital sphere.

If more organizations and professionals followed the same practices the American Red Cross has set in this regard, the social media world would be a better and more fabulous place. :)

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,

Karen

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