The American Red Cross is a non-profit organisation that provide humanitarian services for those in need, including community services, emergency assistance, disaster relief, educational services and health and development related programs in the United States. The organisation is governed by its volunteers and is mainly supported by community donations and the income from their blood products.
In March 2012, American Red Cross launched their new Digital Operations Center that was backed by a generous $500,000 donation from Dell, the world-famous American multinational computer technology corporation. The idea for the new center came from Dell itself, who opened a similar facility in 2010 called Social Media Listening Command Center, which the company used to monitor the impact and the social media reactions of their operations on a world-wide scale.
It is worthwhile to point out that this initiative is the first social media monitoring platform whose primary aim is humanitarian relief. Red Cross believes that the new center will aid them in reaching out to communities that need help in the event of a natural disaster situation. By utilising Facebook and Twitter monitoring, they are able to get first-hand real-time information from the people affected by the event sometimes even before it would be reported by traditional media channels. This enables the organisation to respond faster to the situation and also to establish real-time communication with individuals who need help.
In addition to engaging with the public when a natural disaster occurs, the center continuously sources and aggregates data obtained from Facebook and Twitter comments to spot trends and better anticipate public needs. This is an excellent example of the Collect Information and Insights value lever, where by aggregating information and reports and turning this data into easily digestible information (e.g. heat maps), the organisation is able to prioritise their resource use strategy in order to maximise the help they can provide. On the other hand, Red Cross can also broadcast fundraising and other type of messages asking for help through social media channels (for example asking for blood donations in case of a major crisis), which is a good example of the Mobilize resources lever.
To sum up, the case of Red Cross is an excellent example on taking a successful enterprise-level social media program (Dell’s Social Media Listening Command Center) and adapting it to the particular needs and requirements of a non-profit organisation.
American Red Cross
Wikipedia — American Red Cross
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Red Cross Launches Social Media Disaster Response Center
The American Red Cross and Dell Launch First-Of-Its-Kind Social Media Digital Operations Center for Humanitarian Relief
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