Haiti & The Power Of Social Media

We've seen the power of Social Media in action with the outpouring of support for the Iranians during last summer's Iranian Election Protests on the streets of Tehran. We know its capabilities. Now, with the devastation of Haiti by one of the world's most horrendous earthquakes, once again Social Media and the Digital World take center stage to remind us of our humanity and that we all belong to one village.

Facebook Ads & Fan Groups

Brian Boland, manager of direct response solutions at Facebook, told OMMA Social attendees in San Francisco recently what they didn't know about Facebook ads. He used the earthquake as an  example of how people relied on status updates to tell friends and loved ones their whereabouts, donate money to help survivors, and find makeshift hospitals that had the ability to treat people. He noted the work of World Vision and the ads they ran on Facebook to help people connect with others. About 100,000 people have become fans since the earthquake.

Another Facebook Fan group called Earthquake Haiti has more than 168,000 users, who are posting pictures of missing loved ones, swapping information about how to check on survivors, while warning about donation scams.

Earthquake Haiti on FacebookEarthquake Haiti on Facebook

Text Donations

Nursing student Gonzalo Valdez, 28, sat on a couch in Corbett Center at New Mexico State University recently and typed a few letters and numbers into his iPhone before returning to his studying.

The whole transaction took just about a minute, but Valdez helped provide clean drinking water, first aid supplies or a warm blanket to a victim of the earthquake that devastated Haiti two weeks ago.

Valdez sent a quick text message reading "HAITI" to 90999 to pledge a $10 donation to the American Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development Fund. "It's the fastest way to help them out," the Las Cruces resident explained as he read a response text confirming his donation.

Celebrity Support

Mark Wahlberg, George Clooney, Jack NicholsonMark Wahlberg, George Clooney, Jack NicholsonAs of January 25, the television ratings for George Clooney's "Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief" Telethon were in.

Approximately 83 million viewers tuned in to the two-hour telethon according to The Nielsen Company. At any given time, about 24 million viewers were watching.

The telethon was carried live by almost three dozen networks. What wasn't counted was the hundreds of Web sites that streamed the telethon, as Nielsen doesn't track this online data.

The telethon raised more than $57 million in 24 hours, according to a statement from the producers. That preliminary total did not include donations from corporations or large private donations.

Here, celebrities like Morgan Freeman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tim McGraw, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and Reese Witherspoon join the Ad Council and American Red Cross to launch this 'PSA to Support Victims of Earthquake in Haiti,' which was just released on YouTube.

Twitter Support

On Twitter, "Yele" was the most popular trending topic for several days prior to the telethon, as people tweeted and retweeted messages to donate $5 to singer Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Foundation. They could do this by sending the text message "Yele" to the number 501501.

To donate $10 to the Red Cross — the second most popular topic on Twitter — cell phone users can text the word "Haiti" to 90999. The organization said it raised more than $8 million dollars in less than 48 hours with the texting effort.

Social Media Delivered

In Dallas, Texas, the firm  Social Media Delivered  announced a gift certificate reward program that will match donations to the relief effort in Haiti.  The word is getting out via Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn and on their blog.

During the months of January and February 2010, Social Media Delivered will match any amount donated to The Red Cross up to $500 in the form of a gift certificate for social media marketing or coaching services.  The gift certificates require no minimum purchase and are valid until December 15, 2010 toward any of the services offered by Social Media Delivered.

To receive a gift certificate for free services the participant should follow these 3 simple steps:

  • Individuals or organizations make a donation of any amount to Haiti Relief through American Red Cross during January and of February 2010 here.
  • Receipt for donation should be scanned and emailed to HelpHaiti@SocialMediaDelivered.com.
  • Social Media Delivered will email back a gift certificate in a value equal to the amount of the donation up to $500.

While these are some of the more significant social media channels that have risen to the occasion, there are myriads of other smaller groups that exist on LinkedIn, MySpace and niche social networking groups. The country of Haiti itself actually has their own social network. For more updates on the day to day efforts being made on behalf of the Haitian people, you can visit 'Haitian Space."

HaitianSpace Social NetworkHaitianSpace Social Network

It's reaffirming to know with all the wars and strife around the globe that plague our lives on a daily basis, that when devastation like this occurs, we can forgo about our self-imposed barriers to bring relief and financial support to those less fortunate, using the power of social media technology that's now available to all of us.