By Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communication Director @jweyers2
With smartphones, facebook, twitter and other social engagement platforms it is changing the way we communicate with people. Working in the communications field for over 12 years at the American Red Cross, I have seen a lot of changes in technology, forms of communications, what works and what is outdated.
Over the last few years, on larger disasters I have seen how our National Headquarters team uses social engagement as a way to communicate with our clients, and as a way for the community impacted to communicate with us.
I have now experienced this power first-hand on the impact social media has in times of a disaster with the recent tornadoes and storms that hit Northeast Wisconsin on the morning of August 7.
Here are some real life examples of how we identified those who needed help and we were able to help:
Tweet from @WendyH0405: @newredcross I’m in rural Hortonville and am wondering where to go to get ice thanks?
I sent her my e-mail and she contacted me with her information and I was able to provide her number to our team delivering ice to call her when they were in the area. I am happy to say Wendy sent back an e-mail at 2:00pm that day, saying she was able to get ice and thank you!
Here is another success story.
Idell Johnnston @sfagentidell is a State Farm agent from Shawano, and has helped in the past with her family to canvas the area with fire prevention door hangers. She saw me on the news that night, wanted to help and followed up via facebook. I made a call to the disaster lead and, yes, we did need some extra hands. Idell and her daughter came down to help give out ice all day at our Appleton Office.
Social engagement cannot replace your traditional forms of communication. You still have to pick up the phone, meet people in person, and I am a firm believer of the hand written thank you note, but in times of disaster, and with social engagement being instant, this is just another tool to help the Red Cross connect with people and for people to connect with the Red Cross!
Thank you @lisajduff for your nice message of appreciation!!!