By Jinnean Barnard
The Canadian Red Cross is capitalizing on social networks by using twitter volunteers to quickly spread the story of the urgent situation in the Horn of Africa.
Described by the CBC as a “humanitarian disaster in slow motion,” famine in East Africa is killing small children – an estimated 1 in 3 are at risk of death – and devastating lives.
The Red Cross’s strategy to get the story out to the twittersphere is elegantly simple and employs the most basic tool: human nature.
Anyone can sign up to be a member of the Canadian Red Cross Twitter Team. You’ll receive “important updates” and will be “among the first to know how the Canadian Red Cross is responding.” And, you’ll get “…updated information to share with [your] networks on the situation and how Canadians can help.” You’ll be featured on their site, too, with a photo and profile.
In other words, you’ll not only be doing good. You’ll be an insider, partnering with a major humanitarian organization and aware of the situation as it unfolds. And that status, I think, is what motivates many heavy users of Twitter – the desire to have early, accurate knowledge to share with their networks, thereby cementing their credibility and adding followers.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Saving lives is a pretty compelling reason to capitalize on people’s instinct to reach out, their desire to act for social good, and – let’s face it – their need to be first to the story.
Current members of the Twitter Team range from well-known Canadians such as @anndouglas (8,148 followers) and @bifnaked (38,052 followers) to lesser-known Canadians with followers numbering in the hundreds.
I'd be very interested to know the results of this strategy -- as a method to raise awareness and to drive donations.
And, join the Canadian Red Cross Twitter Team and spread word of the crisis, and how to help, across your network.