Social Media Proves to be an Essential Tool for Haiti Relief

On Tuesday morning, a series of earthquakes devastated Haiti, killing an estimated 50,000, collapsing crucial infrastructure and affecting over 3 million people. Massive relief efforts are underway by numerous nonprofit organizations, and they are making their presence on social media known in hopes of spreading awareness, collecting donations, and being a resource for information.

For these ongoing relief efforts, social media has proven to be an essential tool in helping to disseminate vital information about the devastating effects of these earthquakes in Haiti and bringing in much-needed relief aid., in their article Social media sites rife with activity after Haiti quake, outlined three ways nonprofits such as the American Red Cross and Yele Haiti are utilizing social media:

1. Organizations focus on facts on Twitter
The State Department posted phone numbers for Americans to inquire about the well-being of friends and family in Haiti.

The White House’s early tweet to its 1,652,300 followers about the Red Cross’ accepting text donations help set off the trend. Twitter says 100+ others retweeted the original message.
In disaster situations, the American Red Cross also asks its employees to get involved in the massive amount of communications by sending out a “social media toolkit” and ready-made 140-character messages for them to send out on Facebook or Twitter.

2. Communities ask questions and get answers on Facebook
The community kept the conversation going—people posting names of friends they were trying to locate, asking how they could help. It looked like a forum instead of a wall, very self-regulating and geared toward people getting others the information they sought. With 101,657 members of the American Red Cross fan page and counting, there were plenty of people to lend a hand.

3. People look to visuals for earthquake news
A few organizations also turned to visual sites including YouTube and TwitPic. Mashable had the most retweeted TwitPics of the disaster.

Oxfam of Great Britain had an emergency appeal it posted in video form on YouTube, garnering 302 views. Doctors Without Borders posted a video of its Wednesday press conference, which got 319 views. An American Red Cross video about the latest disaster response to Haiti as of Tuesday night had 137,620 views and 1,909 comments by Wednesday afternoon.

Have you used any of these social media sites to learn more about the disaster?

Make a quick and easy $10 donation to the Red Cross International Relief Fund by texting “HAITI” to 90999.

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