10 inspiring social media case studies in disaster response 0

Posted on September 11, 2017 by Rob Petersen

social media case studies in disaster response

Social media case studies in disaster response show social media as a vital communication vehicle and database to government agencies and communities. And how they use both the networks and technology available in life saving ways.

Consider these facts for people who have survived a disaster:

  • 76% contact friends to make sure they are safe
  • 37% use info on social media to buy supplies and seek shelter
  • 35% post a request for help on a first responder’s Facebook page (Source: Emergency Management)

To view more facts, there is an infographic at the bottom of these social media case studies in disaster response.

Here are 10 inspiring social media case studies in disaster response.

  1. AMERICAN RED CROSS: The Red Cross has been at the forefront of social media case studies in disaster response using its social media accounts to serve communities in an emergency. BLOG: The Red Cross blog covers many topics related to the organization and its mission. During active disasters, the blog is the primary tool for sharing disaster-related information. FACEBOOK: The Red Cross’ Facebook page, which has more than 830,000+ Likes, serves as a community forum for providing information, sharing and discussing current issues, and learning how to take action and donate funds. FLICKR: The Red Cross’ extensive volunteer network operating in many locations provides a substantial database of photos of impacted communities and relief efforts. PINTEREST: The Red Cross uses Pinterest to give visitors the ability to pin Red Cross-related images to their own pinboards and share information through social media platforms.
  2. CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, HURRICANE ISSAC (2012): Early on, reports indicated that Florida would be in the storm’s path during the same week as the scheduled Republican National Convention. As the storm changed its path and headed toward New Orleans, official organizations such as the National Hurricane Center, the National Weather Service, FEMA, and the City of New Orleans used #Isaac and #NOLA consistently on social media networks to clarify alerts and warnings. The New Orleans mayor’s Twitter account was used to respond directly to community members’ Twitter messages and to correct misinformation. Community members posted eyewitness videos and photos of damages and reported utility outages, flooding locations, and road closures. FEMA and the City of New Orleans used this information to plan their response efforts.
  3. CITY OF SAN FRANCISCO: The city uses a text-based notification system, AlertSF, and encourages its Twitter followers to sign up for those alerts and AlertSF subscribers to use Twitter. More information is pushed onto Twitter, such as traffic and weather details. AlertSF is used solely for emergencies because officials do not want to clutter people’s cell phones with messages, Dudgeon said. The city also uses an outdoor public warning system.
  4. FEMA APP: With hurricane season continuing through November 30, the FEMA app is an essential tool to help your family weather the storm, nationwide. Receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States. Learn what to do before, during and after emergencies with safety tips. This is a free app.
  5. MAKE AMERICA SAFER THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA COMMUNITY: The Make America Safer through Social Media community, led by Hal Grieb of Plano, is collecting the best practices of the different social media tools available, DHS’ Vazquez said.Members of the network can engage in specific forums, contribute to blogs and wikis, post documents, share calendars, and bookmark content from the Internet. Members also have profiles that give details about their accreditations, association memberships, credentials, training, and areas of interest related to job activities, such as social media. “They have a level of trust that we, the government, can verify that the people there are also first responders and have a need to know information” related to emergency management, Vazquez said.“In many ways, it gives [first responders] a social collaboration tool similar to Facebook and LinkedIn,” he said, “but the difference is that this is a controlled environment.”
  6. PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, 2010 EARTHQUAKE (2010): After the Haiti earthquake, hundreds of volunteers around the world, dubbed in the media as “digital humanitarians.” As part of the effort, the volunteers first completed the digital mapping of the country using satellite imagery. An open source interactive mapping solution called Ushahidi Platform was then used to map geotagged Twitter messages and other mappable content from hundreds of other online sources. Another successful venture during the Haiti crisis, the American Red Cross’ charity text message campaign, took advantage of smartphone and SMS messaging technology. The campaign raised more than $22 million for Haiti relief within only a few days of the earthquake, thereby demonstrating the power of mobile technology. The charity’s previous record for a text-based campaign was $400,000.
  7. QUEENLAND FLOODS (2010): Long lasting and intensive rainfalls over large areas of north eastern Australia during the wet season of 2010 led to large flooding in Queensland. Nearly seventy-eight per cent of the state of Queensland had been declared a disaster zone in this example of social media case studies in disaster response. The QPS used Social Media streams during the 2011 flood disaster mostly to get information and warnings out to their following community and the public. They wanted to act as a centralised clearing house for disaster-related information. The need for verified informations two significant boosts of “Likes” on Facebook. The first boost occurred in December 2010 and doubled in number. About 14,000 people followed the QPS Facebook account by the end of December 2010. The second more powerful boost occurred after the flash flooding events of Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley on the 10th of January 2011, and at the beginning of the flooding of Brisbane on the 11th January. “Likes” of the QPS Facebook page increased from 14,000 to over 160,000
  8. TORONTO POLlCE SERVICE: The Toronto Police Service (TPS) has taken an aggressive approach to social media. By mid-2012, it had trained 300 staff to use networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs. One example of this strategy emerged when police were conducting a manhunt in a residential community. The suspect was regarded as armed and dangerous; as a precaution, some schools were locked down and homes secured. By following keywords and hashtags (a symbol used tomark keywords or topics), the TPS were able to monitor what the community was saying about the incident. In doing so, they were able to correct misinformation, dispel rumors and provide assurance that police were on the scene.
  9. U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: The U.S. Geological Survey is developing a prototype site that monitors Twitter feeds to provide scientists with real-time data about earthquakes in this example of social media case studies in disaster response. The goal of the Twitter Earthquake Detector effort is to demonstrate a way to rapidly detect earthquakes and provide an initial damage assessment. TED taps into the Twitter API and searches for keywords such as “earthquake.” It then pulls and aggregates the information, including photographs, to give USGS scientists a map based on the number of tweets coming from a geographic area. That information is useful because there is a time lag between an earthquake and its official verification.
  10. VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT (VDEM): Launched an emergency management system — the Virginia Interoperability Picture for Emergency Response — that has transformed how it prepares for emergencies and responds to disasters. VIPER is a geospatial information system-based enterprise platform that integrates with numerous information systems and links with approximately 250 data feeds. It supplies a Web-based common operating picture and numerous analysis tools. Emergency commanders; first responders; and police, fire and government officials can tap into a single information resource to gain an accurate understanding of events.

Do these case studies convince you of the value of social media in disaster response. To help your understanding, here is an infographic of the ways that it is used.

8 case studies prove predictive power of social media listening 2

Posted on June 09, 2013 by Rob Petersen



Social Media Listening

90% of the data in the history of the world has been created in the last 2 years (source: IBM).

It’s given rise to an industry, Big Data, and a significant portion of it comes from social media chatter.

Does it make sense for brands to listen to social media data? What kind of insights are revealed? Does it result in better decision making?

Here are 8 case studies that show the predictive power of social media listening.

  1. CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS: In the 2010 California governor’s race between candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, a study from Activate Direct social listening proved the ratio of positive to negative social sentiment to be very much in line with the ratio of favorable to unfavorable ratings shown by traditional polling and on-going focus group. But social media listening identified potential crises earlier, faster and for less research money.
  2. DELL: Uses social media chatter for cross-departmental team collaboration. Over 90,000 employee quickly and easily collaborate and listen in 11 languages in places like the company’s Listening Command Center. What has they found> In the US, Twitter chatter has a positive impact on their reputation and gained positive coverage in Mashable and Fast Company; in Germany, social media chatter among employees helps monitor the success of internal conferences; in China, blogposts have a direct effect on coverage with Sina, RenRen, microblogs and forums.
  3. HEDGE FUND MANAGERS: “Analyzing social media conversations can provide insights, ‘like X-Ray vision’, about a company’s performance in between their quarterly financial reports.” That’s the point of view of the McAlister Study and how hedge fund managers now listen to social media chatter when their research showed  a direct positive correlation between sales and chatter; a 5% rise of positive chatter led to a 5% rise in sales.
  4. MORTON’S: You may have heard about social media consultant, Peter Shankman, who had the  good luck when tweeting a shout out about how a Morton’s steak would be just the right ending to his flight arriving in Newark. The consultant with 150,000+ Twitter followers was greeted at the airport by a man in a tuxedo sent by Morton’s to deliver a complete steak dinner. Social media listening enabled Morton’s to pick out advocate from the crowd and create influence at a low cost. It probably didn’t hurt Shankman’s influencer rating and visibility either.
  5. NIELSEN: The gold standard for assessing the performance of TV programming, has started collecting social media chatter for TV rating. The Nielsen company said that one in three people using Twitter in June of 2012 sent messages at some point about the content of television shows, an increase of 27% from only five months earlier.  Nielsen also estimated that 41% of tablet owners and 38% of smartphone owners used their devices while watching television.
  6. QUENTIN TARANTINO: His violent Nazi revenge fantasy Inglorious Basterds pulled in more than $37 million domestically in its opening weekend. A good portion is thanks in part to Twitter. After a $14 million opening on Friday, the film picked up steam over the weekend as the positive tweets kept rolling in. Research service, Trendrr, showed the number of tweets about the movie climbed steady through most of Saturday before tapering off early Sunday correlating directly with movie receipts.
  7. TOYOTA: At the beginning of 2012, the company faced very negative press due to revelation of recalls and announcing them late to the public. Toyota launched a large “transparency” and “apology” campaign using social media outreach. The company had four official Facebook pages, which saw a 10% fan base growth between late January and early March. USA president and chief operating officer, Jim Lentz, also participated in regular Twitter Chats. Toyota experienced a 41% increase in March 2010 sales, compared to March of last year. The company can’t prove a link between social media outreach and the sales boost, especially considering the unprecedented sales incentives and discounted leasing deals and mainstream media appearances by executives on such outlets as NBC, ABC, and NPR. But it certainly didn’t hurt Toyota to be transparent through social media and was a very smart part of a successful integrated campaign.
  8. UNISYS: A 100+ year old company, Unisys understandably has had some obstacles to overcome when adapting social media to their corporate culture. With several top executives leading by example, departments began to openly share communication using internal social media applications. But success stories within the company show huge innovative payoffs aided tremendously by the open sharing of information available through well-constructed social media platforms and corporate adaptations.

To be transparent, not all brands are benefiting from social media listening. Coca-Cola reports it has yet to see any sales lift from social media buzz, even though the brand has 61,000,000+ fans on Facebook but the company continues to listen.

In the music industry, Tom Silverman reports: “My new take is online media is the propagation channel through which attention waves travel.  Bieber and Kutcher have huge attention waves so they travel far and fast.  Speed of propagation is greater on YouTube than any other social platform due to the sticky video content. Media is not necessarily neutral.  Great images and videos drive engagement faster than words for example. But we keep learning from real life stories. His New Music Seminar is this week in NYC.

Do his case studies prove the predictive power of social media listening? Do you need help finding insights in the chatter for your brand?

12 digital and social media case studies that prove Customer Service ROI 18

Posted on December 12, 2011 by Rob Petersen



Digital and social media are held to highly accountable standards when it comes to return on investment (ROI). For the last two years, Social Media Examiner reports the #1 question marketers ask about social media is “How do I measure social media return on investment?”

On this blog, we’ve highlighted over 100 case studies (see related posts at the bottom) and believe digital and social media demonstrate the proven principles of relationship marketing better than any other communication channel, particularly when it comes to customer service.

If there are people in your company who still need convincing, here are 12 digital and social media case studies that prove Customer Service ROI.

1. ACCOR: has over 4000 hotels in 90 countries and has to manage over 5000 comments each month on sites such as and The company wants to listen, learn and engage with what customers are saying about the Accor brand and approximately 12,000 competitors’ hotels so it can then establish dashboards to act on the data. Accor has found this type of customer service not only improves the company’s online reputation, it results in double-digit sales increases for key brands like Novotel.

2. ALASKA AIR: Is the first carrier in the world to let customers check-in from the internet and at self-service kiosks. Traditionally, weather delays and cancellation cause airlines to pull agents off inbound sales calls and handle affected customers. The result is many customers are not handled effectively or in time plus new bookings are lost. The internet provided a more time sensitive way to personally handle affected passengers without tying up sales staff. The result: Revenue and ROI increased because each customer costs 54 cents to re-ticket over the internet versus $1.60 on a live call; live agents can handle only 500 calls/hour while their web site can handle 20,000 calls/hour; just as important, not one negative comment occurred when the company made this switch.

3. AT&T: Has over 1.6 million fans on their Facebook page and a staff of 20 to engage, manage conversations and, when appropriate, encourage sales. The company trains and educates this team. Surveys show AT&T’s Facebook staff gets some of their best customer service ratings while also delivering some of the company’s highest sales per employees.

4. BEST BUY (Twelp Force): Gives employees the opportunity to help consumers on Twitter. Participation is voluntary and the community grows to 2,200 employees within 3 months. They respond to over 13,000 customers on Twitter answering questions, concerns, and opinions. The Twitter feed @twelpforce now counts over 40,000 followers and the number of questions averages 100-125 per day. It is considered a key value-add by customers and the company.

5. CARE ONE DEBT RELIEF SERVICES: Opens an online community on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in 2009 to help consumers with questions about debt relief, consolidation and budgeting. By going directly to social networks, there is no registration process and the company’s staff is able to give them a faster response. Lead generation is 179% higher, forms are completed 6X faster, customers make their first payment at a rate that was 7X better than non-social media customers.

6. COMCAST: Much has been written about @ComcastCares and the way Frank Eliason helped the company better handle the 3 million customer service calls (most unhappy) the company gets each year through blogs and Twitter with 3 simple words: Can I help? The company reviews 6000 blog posts and about 2000 Tweets each day to service more customers in a better and faster way than traditional inbound service. Here’s Frank explaining just what Comcast did.

7. DIRECTV: Has problems with churn among its 18.5 U.S. customers as more cable service develop a presence in satellite-based television. The best way to reduce churn is to increase customer satisfaction and one way to do it is optimize field technician routes for the 600,000 service calls received each day. DIRECTV implements Oracle GoldenGate to consolidate disparate data marts into a central warehouse. This improves the timeliness, granularity, and accuracy of customer and service data. It enables managers and more than 15,000 call center agents to conduct real-time data queries and analysis throughout the day—using dashboards, e-mail delivery, and end-user reporting tools—eliminating the reliance on outdated weekly or monthly reports.

8. FORD: The way we buy cars is changing. A 2011 survey of 2,485 consumers found that 28% visit websites five times or more during their car-buying process but only 11% visit dealerships that many times. Ford, in the UK, designs a multi-channel contact and lead management system based on its intelligentContact (iContact) platform. It manages every customer contact and increases agent efficiency by 25%. Where some calls used to take a minute to answer, now they are answered within 20 seconds.

9. H&R BLOCK: Tax preparation is a highly seasonal business.  H&R uses Facebook and Twitter to provide immediate access to a tax professional for Q&A in the “Get It Right” social media campaign.  The effort secures 1,500,000 unique visitors and answers 1,000,000 questions for a 15% lift in business versus the prior year when there was no social media “Get It Right” program. Here’s how Amy Worley explains how the company got it right.

10. LENOVA: Sees customers are talking about its products in third-party forums and is worried about being left out of these important conversations. Using a peer-to-peer support community in social media, Lenovo listens to customer experiences and establishes ownership of any problem. The results: 20% reduction in laptop support call rates, an increase in agent productivity, a shortened problem resolution cycle, and an increase in Net Promoter Scores…plus ideas from the community result in new product innovations.

11. MACY’S: Handles 130 orders every minute online from over 1,000,000 unique visitors every day. and link production to online orders and give access to 100 employees to optimize customer flow. For the first time, Macy’s experiences no downtime during holiday peak period and increases online sales +40% for December and 29% for the year.

12. SETON HALL UNIVERSITY: relies on tuition for revenue. They discover incoming freshmen are forming lasting impressions about colleges by reading a university’s Facebook page before they go to university’s website. Seton Hall gets actively involved in Facebook conversations to answers questions, participate in discussions and guide potential incoming freshmen. They tag the web traffic coming from Facebook to the website. Tuitions coming from Facebook are +18% and deposits are +25% than those who do not consult Facebook.

We’ve produced results like these for our client and have case studies of our own to share on the website. We’re proud of the results and ROI achieved and the demonstration these business principles work. We’d be glad to share what we see working so effectively in the marketplace for your brand.

Do these digital and social media case studies prove Customer Service ROI to you?

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