When Haiti was devastated by the major 2010 earthquake, queries on LinkedIn requesting volunteer contractors and tradespeople who could help rebuild the country’s devastated infrastructure sparked the creation of LinkedIn For Good, a subsidiary that provides pathways to connect volunteers with specific skillsets with the people and places where their talents are urgently required. The participants’ profiles served as a ready-made database ready to mine in order to locate the individuals who possessed the professional expertise required in the Port-au-Prince area. LinkedIn made it consummately easy to locate users with particular required skills such as masonry builders, plumbers and electricians in order to encourage them to volunteer their services. Swift action by brands in reacting to momentous global disasters can not only provide needed support to the struck populations but can also maneuver your company as being viewed as part of the solution.
Ensure the Cause Is Universally Supported
Online marketers should affiliate themselves with a non-profit organization engaged in high-profile projects that are generally seen by the public as necessary to right a great wrong. The most impactful causes are centered around massive natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis. Although charities working to improve civil rights in repressive societies such as Cuba, North Korea and China can be seen to be philosophically or ideologically controversial and not universally supported, no one is going to take the position that villagers who have been devastated by a volcanic eruption are not deserving of assistance. From the corporate standpoint there is the element of fundraising, which is indisputably desirable from any perspective, but another considerable factor is the not-insignificant aura effect gained from having your brand being seen by its customers as caring and altruistic.
Affiliation with a Horizontal NGO
No one can predict when the next great natural disaster will occur but it still behooves brands to have an action plan in place in order to be able to swing into action quickly. One of the most important aspects to take into consideration is that the plan should not be focused on a particular form of disaster. Although major global geophysical disasters can affect millions of people, countless numbers can also be affected by fires, drought, pandemics or socio-political upheavals. Creating and implementing a cause-support structure that can extend to everything from establishing an affiliation with a horizontal, wide-ranging charitable NGO (such as the Red Cross) all the way to preparing the donation and appeal page coding in advance, can help your brand quickly react to the next major disaster.
Sensitivity Is Key
Sensitivity is of utmost importance in the implementation of any disaster cause appeal. It is consummately easy to cross the fine line between being viewed by your customers as genuinely assisting to raise funds and material assistance to devastated populations, and crassly taking advantage of a dire situation to gain market share or competitive advantage. When the 2011 tsunami hit Japan, Microsoft responded with an infamous appeal asking for retweets: obliquely promoting its Bing search engine in exchange for a $1 donation. Had the Redmond software giant simply donated the funds it would have gained considerable social capital, but linking the philanthropy to a Bing promo was widely seen as inconsiderate and loutish.
While print and broadcast commercial messaging can take weeks or months of preparation and notice to be able to display, social media allow brands to react literally in minutes in order to present themselves as being in a position where they can perform some magnanimous beneficence and assist innocent populations in dire need. Focusing on the provision of support will help build the positive aura that will last long after the appeal is over.