About six months ago, I searched to add marketing experience to fill my resume. I stumbled across a communications volunteer position at the Red Cross. The non-profit sector was never on my radar. Nonetheless, I decided to pursue the position regardless. It was interesting observing the social media process within the organization. I found that the organization produced content relevant to each chapter around the country. For instance, in my chapter, the communications department creates content for events, fire/general safety, donation requests, and emergency notifications among other matters. Within each category, the campaigns are curated based on location and need. The objective of each chapter is to increase engagement with community members. Whether by charity ball, donation campaigns, or holiday cooking safety tips, their followers need to click, repost, and share content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and mobile application.
The Red Cross focuses on four major factors for social media engagement. I have listed some excerpts from their 2012 Social Engagement Handbook.
- Finding Your Community – Our recommendation is to focus on the quality of your community rather than the quantity of
- Inviting New Stakeholders to Join Your Community – Invite people to join your social community during media interviews; Include links to your social presence in email signatures; Ask your media contacts to follow your unit’s social accounts for fast information.
- Choosing a Platform – Through your listening and engaging process, figure out how much capacity (time) you have and concentrate on the platform(s) where your community spends the most time.
- Creating Content – Before posting content always ask: “What is in it for the community?” and “What about this post will people find interesting, accessible and useful enough that they’d want to share it?”
These steps demonstrate the process of capturing and maintaining social outreach. Social media is not only an effective tool for monitoring and engaging public discourse during the crisis process, but also enables the cultural shift regarding how the public views its role as an empowered contributor. In the end, the data is measured to determine which strategies strengthen conversation on each social media platform. A crisis management study on social media strategies from the CDC, HHS, FEMA, the American Red Cross, and NPR concluded that effective public outreach campaign must be far more conversational than before — and content must be shared, not pushed. Emergency managers need to participate in and lead such conversations, rather than simply talk at an audience. Increased engagement is the primary objective for non-profit organizations.