Hurricane Katrina hit NOLA, and Red Cross wanted to know how to respond to the critiques made of Red Cross and increase organization transparency in their relief efforts.
Listening to what was being said in social media about the Red Cross was a huge part of this project. The Red Cross wanted to correct misinformation, what was working and not working about communications, identify influencers, track communication trends.
Have been able to correct information and build relationship with folks who are very passionate about the organization, and to understand communication patterns. Internally, been able to teach about social media adoption to colleagues. Compile data about customer service issues, and this has started to inform PR strategies (e.g. with response to lawsuit from Johnson and Johnson regarding red cross logo.)
Culls through searches and creates "daily blog update" by topic and distributed throughout organization. Out of the daily blog entries, decide who responds to blog entries, whether that's a thank you or responding to criticism, etc. Also avenue decided (e.g. leaving comment, emailing, not touching, etc.)
Tagging: del.icio.us to find what people find compelling about the Red Cross such that they write about it.
Recording: Every month, aggregate conversations that month, segmented by markets--e.g. general public vs. pharma folks.
Feedback: Colleagues remark how valuable these reports are. Folks outside of the organization do this as well.
Challenges: Culture shift, takes a long time to change. Lots of baby steps. Serious firewall within the organization, too; most employees can't access Blogger.com, for example. Presenter thought that removing this Firewall would increase transparency (my note: aren't there problems with employees, generally, not thinking about how to respond to criticism about their company and "shooting from the hip." What kind of guidelines would minimize this issue/behavior?)?
Transparency increased by responding to critiques that appear in social media.
Q: In blog updates, are blog posts shared verbatim or is there an interpretation? A: Blog posts are distributed as is (perhaps shortened, but not annotated.)
Q: Any way to categorize the responses? A: In del.icio.us, comment whether that given blogger has been contacted. Panelist does do the response, but reaches out to appropriate folks in organization to find out what could be changed or more information to form a response.
Q: How, if doing broad outreach, to identify trends? A: Haven't conducted any campaigns, because focusing on creating groundwork of trust... but... ???
Q: How do you know when to respond, when should not respond, avoid "feeding the trolls"...?
A: Use gut to figure out if question is authentic, or just trolling for a response, or responding won't make anything better, then won't respond.