This detailing of a case study began life as an intended comment on Kristen’s Sukalac’s recent blog, Pink Gloves, Hashtags and Lost Opportunities, but it became so involved and long (and the subject so inspiring) that I decided to turn it into a post proper.
Toni Muzi Falconi commented that an effective communication (campaign)—presumably whether causal or the arts or another consumer product or service marketing effort—requires:
1. Source credibility
2. Content credibility; and
3. Content familiarity
If these are indeed the three principal indicators, I’d like to detail a (Canadian) case study re: successful causal marketing—through social media and the use of hashtags—of which I became aware of (and have now played a part in) through Twitter: the Canadian Red Cross’ Talking Pictures initiative.
I can’t pinpoint when exactly (or how) Karen Snider and I first started following one another on Twitter, but I do recall that it was Karen who tweeted a suggestion that Tanya Elliott and I should follow one another. Tanya is the director of communications for the Canadian Red Cross (at that time CRC was a client of Karen’s…now she has transitioned to a part-time employee). Tanya inaugurated her Twitter account specifically in conjunction with “Pictures Talk,” a program of the Canadian Red Cross, related to its tsunami-relief efforts dating back to 2004.
Over the last few months, the bulk of Tanya’s tweets have kept her followers updated about the travelling exhibition, as it wound its way across Canada (more information follows). A bit later, a mutual follow also started with Jen Mayville, communication coordinator with Canadian Red Cross Ontario.
With the Canadian Red Cross and its tsunami relief efforts (and Talking Pictures initiative), I believe Toni’s 1. Source credibility; and 2. Content credibility principal requirements are covered off.
Pictures Talk is an exhibition comprising 26 photos taken—using disposable cameras—by child survivors of the Boxing Day tsunami. (The accompanying, inspiring captions to the photos were written by the same amateur photographers.) The regions that the Canadian Red Cross efforts focused on included Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives.
It was obvious that all three Canadian Red Cross staff members (in fact, anyone involved with this endeavour) are passionate about the Pictures Talk initiative. Considering that it was a project of which I’d been unaware of up until a few months ago (“content familiarity”), it impresses me that my awareness was raised via Karen, Tanya and Jen’s Twitter accounts and the determined hashtag: #PicturesTalk.
Toronto Pictures Talk Tweetup
Toronto marked the final stop for the exhibit…and the only location that relied primarily on Twitter for promotion (the Canadian Red Cross’ inaugural “Pictures Talk Tweetup”). I received a direct invitation (a “tweet”) to register. Which I did. And I tweeted about it, using the #PicturesTalk hashtag.
The reception (featuring culturally relevant Indonesian appetizers) and exhibit was held last night (December 7th) at an intimate, local gallery, which donated the space. It was well attended and proved to be an inspiring exhibit and a very warm and friendly networking event for “twits” (and non-twits) alike. At the event I met Karen, Tanya and Jen in person for the first time, which was in itself, quite moving.
Several of us at the Tweetup (we were all so inspired by the children’s photos and words) suggested to Tanya and her staff that they auction off the photos/captions, particularly to the corporate sector. We think these photos, hung in public places, would prove a visual “content familiarity” and incredibly effective storytelling about how Canadian donations to the Canadian Red Cross tsunami relief efforts have manifested themselves and played a role in enriching lives and documenting outcomes. That way the “impact” (Kristen Sukalac’s word) of the cause-donation outcomes would continue to find new audiences, raise awareness and (possibly) increase donations.
Successful Case Study
Back in 2004, I did donate to the tsunami relief efforts, but not to the Canadian Red Cross (I opted to send money to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders – Canada). But I can say that I wouldn’t hesitate to contribute to future Canadian Red Cross fundraising effort for relief work, particularly now that my awareness has been raised through the organization’s Pictures Talk social media efforts and Tweetup exhibit.
That’s why I say this is a successful case study, at least on a personal basis.
For the locals who would like to see the full exhibit, details are as follows:
Alternatively, anyone can visit CTV Television’s Online Photo Gallery (a few select Talking Pictures photos) or see Canada AM & Jeff’s videos for, “Tsunami kids document lives in new project” video on CTV’s Canada AM web pages.
Update 12/10/09: Additional information from Dan Bedell, Director of Public Affairs, Canadian Red Cross, Atlantic Canada (as per his comment)
“You might also be interested in viewing the short (5-minutes), but compelling, International Red Cross (IFRC) video available via the mainpage. [Or go directly to YouTube.] It details the progress the Red Cross has made in the five years since the tsunami.
Bear in mind if viewing it, that the $383 million donated by Canadians accounted for almost a fifth of the $2B raised globally for the Red Cross tsunami relief effort–the largest contribution of any country in the world.”
* * *
Below is information I culled from the flyer that was available at the reception. It also served to enhance my appreciation of “source credibility, content credibility and content familiarity.”
Five years later—commemorating the South Asia Tsunami
Boxing Day (December 26th) marks the fifth anniversary of the devastating tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean coastline in 2004. To date, the Red Cross movement has helped 5 million survivors rebuild their lives. Over the past five years, the Canadian Red Cross has built more than 6,000 earthquake-resistant homes, repaired hospitals and community centres, restored lost livelihoods and helped train thousands of disaster response volunteers across Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and India.
Steps Toward Recovery
Following immediate emergency relief efforts, which included transporting over 100 metric tones of supplies for survivors in the region, the Canadian Red Cross focused on four core regions: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives. Over 100 Canadian delegates left their homes and families to work in the field, and relief efforts have been ongoing in the region for the past five years, often in collaboration with other Red Cross Societies.
$360 Million – A Record Fundraising Tally
Canadians responded to the disaster in record-breaking numbers, and through the generosity of individuals, corporations, provincial governments and a matching program from the Canadian International Development Agency, the Canadian Red Cross received more than $360 million for tsunami relief and recovery efforts.
To date, 97 per cent of funds raised have been invested in tsunami response and recovery operations, with the remaining three per cent invested in future preparedness initiatives in tsunami-affected countries, which are being implemented over the next five years.
Addendum: I compared notes last night with Tanya Elliott, regarding our favourite Talking Picture. The (hit thumbnail of corner/lower-right-hand side photo) one by 13-year-old Eka Sriwahyuni is the number one pic (sic) for both of us. As Tanya said to me, “I can’t believe these children can stand in front of that ocean, let alone have such huge smiles, doing it.”
The Global National December 24th segment, Canadians still helping tsunami victims, 5 years later, can be viewed online.
Other blog posts about the #PicturesTalk Tweetup