The Social Media for Good Roundup: The Good, the Useful and the Ugly

Over the last couple of weeks I have come across a few great examples and tips for the use of social media and one horrible example that clearly shows what not to do in a crisis. Enjoy.

Applebee's sign. Photo: Dauvit Alexander on Flickr.

Photo: Dauvit Alexander on Flickr.

US fast food restaurant Applebee’s has just been through a social media disaster that can serve as a text-book example of how not to do crisis communication. No matter whether you agree with the original cause of the social media fueled outrage – the firing of a waitress – a lot can be learned from how Applebee’s social media person decided to react to the onslaught of criticism. I really feel for him/her. He tried to do his best but when you read the article, you’ll see how that poor person was clearly overwhelmed. My guess is that this was a very junior person or even an intern and not somebody with significant communications experience.

For me, the first lesson is to have people manage your social media accounts who are competent enough to manage crisis communication. The second lesson is of course that it is sometimes better to shut up than to feed the fires, followed by realizing that deleting 20,000 critical comments from your Facebook page will not solve your problem – it’ll make it worse.

If you think that this does not have a lot of relevance for an NGO, think again – non-profit organizations, NGOs, UN agencies and national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have certainly had their fair amount of public communications crisis over the years; be it about blood, cholera, donations or surprisingly high death rates at old people’s homes. Ask yourself: do you know how the person managing your social media channels would react to a crisis?

Oreo didn’t exactly have a crisis on their hands, but I think it’s still interesting to see how the company managed to create an ad and push it out through Twitter in a couple of minutes following the Super Bowl blackout. While difficult to duplicate, it shows again that empowering your social media team makes a difference. And if you think that you need a design team to make this happen, look again – this was not a sophisticated design job.

John Haydon frequently posts excellent tips on how to use Facebook and I’m particularly fond of his latest article on Socialbrite. Everybody knows that you are supposed to “engage” your Facebook supporters, but coming up with ideas how to engage them can be difficult. The 19 ideas presented in this post contain something for every type of organization.

  •  Instagram-Accounts Showing Alternative Views of Africa
Kathryn Mahoney's Instagram feed

Kathryn Mahoney’s Instagram feed

There has been a lot of discussion about the current Oxfam campaign that is trying to promote a view of Africa that focusses not only on poverty, misery and starvation. I’d like to share two Instagram accounts that I think are doing a great job in that respect: Kathryn Mahoney is working for UNHCR in South Sudan and is taking photos showing that refugees are not abstract stereotypes, but real people that everybody can relate to. “Everyday Africa” is a group of outstanding photographers who focus on documenting daily life in Africa, rather than just the extremes that frequently dominate the media.

This is an example of how WFP has recently used a Google+ hangout to broadcast a video conference with journalists, experts, WFP staff and a “WFP supporter” about the situation in Syria. I think it is a great example showing how to use hangouts. In case you have never used Google+ hangouts, give them a try – it’s really easy and free.

(h/t Social Media 4 Emergency Management and A View from the Cave)