Saving Lives with Social Media: Global Aid & Development

There is a gap in knowledge about how humanitarian organizations can innovate with social media.

Jason Cone, head of communications at Médecins Sans Frontières, remarked that aid agencies are slow to capitalize on social media and lack knowledge about the potential for social media to facilitate and improve effective communications. Cone explains that (2012).

“We should strive to use all the tools at our disposal to provide better assistance to victims of wars, epidemics, and other crises. Ultimately, though, the usefulness of social media tools to humanitarian action should be judged on the basis of their impact in improving the quality, relevance, and effectiveness of aid – not the speed at which the tools themselves are adopted by the humanitarian community.”

Cone worries that information gaps pose a challenge to decision-making about how much to invest in social media.

NGOs should model themselves after successful social media campaigns.

Devex presented their top ten social media campaigns for international development-focused organizations for 2011. They are: UNICEF, (RED), Greenpeace International, WWF, World Vision USA, Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), American Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, The Nature Conservancy and Amnesty International USA.

(RED) is the only organization with more than one million Facebook likes and more than one million Twitter followers.

Twitter for Good

Twitter’s utility in the field is critical in crisis situations.

“Twitter allows anyone to be a journalist and an informant to the larger world, and provides a megaphone to amplify the message.” ~ Claire Diaz-Ortiz.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz is Twitter’s head of Corporate Social Innovation and Philanthropy department. The department created two pro-bono programs for non-profit organizations.

The Promoted Tweets for Good program is an application-based, pro bono program. Twitter also offers a ad hoc program for organizations working in crisis relief during times of natural disaster and civil unrest.

Twitter promotes specific campaigns through it’s advertising platform. Twitter also conducts regular non-profit trainings, offers an informative website and works with organizations in the field of disaster response to support humanitarian aid initiatives.


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