Social Media and Mobilization: What I've Learned About Social Good in the Digital Space

Hey all. Thank god it's Friday right? This week has been busy to say the least. Please spare me five minutes of your time and read about two days and experiences that have changed the way I am currently looking at social media. I promise it's worth the energy.

Wednesday, I assisted
in the launch of the first virtual International Humanitarian Law class offered
by the Chicago Red Cross. Usually this class is participated in a classroom
setting but Jackie Mitchell, Director of Communications and Marketing, had the brilliant idea of moving it to the digital world.
The curriculum is the same for any chapter within the Red Cross that holds the
class, so why not utilize the broad interest in the subject of humanitarian
principles during war in a confidential virtual space? We thought it was a good


Jackie and I working virtually for the IHL class.

The beta testing ended up being a success considering that I
might have been the most tech savvy person in the room for set-up. We found
that we could still engage conversation between the classroom and online
participants by using the teleconference option and a chat box. Jackie
monitored and responded to the virtual participants who were grouped together
to respond to scenarios and questions posed by the class instructor. I was
additionally participating online (yet I was in the room at the same time so I
cannot say I got the full effect) and can vouch for the intricate conversations
that were constantly streaming through the chat. Jackie relayed the questions
to the instructor and the rest of the class so that everyone had a say in
discussion. The conversation is now being continued through social media
with the Twitter hashtag of #rulesofwar so feel free to see what all the buzz
is about. Sarah Evans also wrote a great blog on How To Run a
Virtual Public Education Class on Little or No Budget
off the class.

You are probably thinking "Okay... what did this girl just say and why do I care?" Stay with me.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Social Media Club of Chicago's September meet-up at the Hotel Palomar. To mirror Mashable's #SocialGood Summit this week, two of the speakers at the meet-up spoke about how social media is driving action in the community towards social good. Jackie, my boss and mentor, was one of these spirited presenters. Her voice amplified throughout the room with a serious love for her work and a drive to design a better world by utilizing social media. It is hard to describe the kind of person who can stir the emotions in a room and captivate an audience with no visual aids these days. But Jackie can definitely work a room.

As I was sitting in the
audience watching her speak, I could feel the energy in the room building. Not
only were Social Media Club members present that night but speakers and
participants in the
 CUSP 2010 conference were listening as well. I felt very small (figuratively of course,
I was definitely one of the tallest people in the room) compared to the minds
that surrounded me.

jackiee.jpgJackie speaking at @SMCchicago. Please disregard horrible quality from my phone.

Jackie spoke about several key points. As a marketer, she addressed the fact that the Red Cross emblem is a symbol of protection. Now immediately you would assume that this sense of protection is solely for the people that the Red Cross and Red Crescent are aiding. This is where you are wrong. The emblem is a shield for not only the wounded but for the Red Cross delegate wearing it. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) works within enemy prisons to find out whether or not International Humanitarian Law is being followed. When they enter these hostile environments they are not given a gun. They are not being followed by a guard. These delegates are completely unarmed except for the logo on their shirt. This Red Cross emblem permits them access to places that even the US government is not allowed. Powerful implications.

She additionally addressed a problem that is currently happening on Twitter, Facebook, and all other social media platforms. People are taking for granted that we are listening to them, especially in times of disaster. You might want to read this next statistic twice:

 74% of the public believes that if they reached out for help online, someone from emergency response would come to help within the hour. --Red Cross

How crazy is that? With so many people under this impression of instant relief, what are organizations like the Red Cross supposed to do? Jackie talked about the need for a platform to crowdsource these calls for help.

Push that comfort level. Embrace the mistakes and learn from them. Get afraid.

These are all notions that Jackie voiced about using social media. When it comes to forming a social media strategy around social good, we all need to acknowledge the fact that these platforms are about freedom of speech. You are not going to like everything you hear so deal with it and find that community that needs your help.

"Your social media strategy cannot be built around social media freaks like us" it needs to be centered around the people that you aren't following that need you.

So between the virtual International Humanitarian Law class which filled my head with the power of human dignity and the influence of the Red Cross and Jackie's speech on social media and social good, I sit here right now in Corner Bakery looking at the people around me. Who is going to help us find a way to "mobilize everyone who wants to help during a disaster in a way that makes the best possible use of their skills." 

Maybe you can help. 

Read Jackie's call to action on the Chicago Red Cross blog and tell us your ideas.

Talk it up & share it:

@lttsnyder (myself)  |  @your_mssunshine (Jackie Mitchell)  |  @Chicagoredcross


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  • You are not small, Lauren, and you deserve to be in that room.

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