Interviewer’s Note: With all the news and information on how to use social media and Twitter for professional means, it’s well worth remembering that some of the most important effects it has delivered has been socially or for advancing causes. Today’s interview with Tritia Pocci, focuses on that aspect, and how she has been involved with using social media to benefit Haiti after the devastating earthquake.
Hello Tritia, welcome to the Pluggio Blog. In a nutshell, how do you describe your work?
I work with IntegrAid, which is a 501.c3 Non-Profit Public Charity incorporated to assist philanthropic organizations expand and fund the services they provide. The last couple of years we’ve been developing the “urBOOK Project” (urbook.biz) a vehicle to circulate philanthropic education to the public and generate revenue for organizations that provide direct services to the poor.
How did you get started with that?
In 1994 IntegrAid Inc. was founded as a liaison to help create and implement support services for the IDU community living with HIV/AIDS. Incorporated in 1998, we broadened our scope of support services to include all philanthropic objectives.
What made you decide to start using Twitter?
After learning about the impact Ashton Kutcher achieved fundraising for World Malaria Day, we decided to explore the Twitter platform as an education and marketing tool for philanthropic goals. IntegrAid was one of 50 organizations TechSoup Global chose to participate in their Social Media Boot Camp sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation’s Action Lab and Fieldstone Alliance. Soon after, the 2010 earthquake struck Haiti so it was a natural progression to focus on Haiti’s needs with @tweets4GOOD. During the last 2 ½ years IntegrAid has utilized the @tweets4GOOD account in different ways. At first to organize and circulate relief and resource information, then it was time to figure out the best way to run our Twitter account efficiently with our resources, we started to study how to automate tweets and find reliable sources for good information. Now @tweets4GOOD is set-up to distribute information about Haiti’s culture and issues related to rebuilding the country.
What benefits have you seen due to Twitter/social marketing?
In my opinion, the standout features of social marketing are 1.) The accessibility to a large international audience 2.) Instant interactivity with this audience. Using Twitter after the Haiti EQ seemed like an efficient way to connect people with resources, alert service providers of needed help and hear about current concern. I was impressed with the creative ways Twitter was being used as a reporting tool by many of the folks providing aide. I think the 140 character format at that time was a plus considering the amount of bandwidth available on portable devices a couple of years ago, a form of texting to the masses.
Are there any of your accomplishments with social marketing that you are particularly proud of?
Not yet, but we have not invested the time to utilize the medium to its full potential. With the proper strategy, I feel social media marketing is a fantastic way to educate and stimulate interest about philanthropic activities, a great medium to advocate for any cause.
How did you build your following? What kinds of people/businesses are they?
We didn’t make an effort to build a following for @tweets4GOOD, the process was organic, while curating data to tweet we would credit the source of the material and that at times lead to followers. We reached out to organizations through Twitter with our information and sometimes that would give us new followers.
How will you choose who you will follow? What do you look for in a follower?
We follow NGO’s, government, news sources, businesses, Haitians or anyone who tweets about Haiti, because the purpose of @tweets4GOOD at this time is as a resource for all thing Haitian. We like to keep personal conversations to a minimum and follow accounts that provide useful and focused informative dialogue on issues about Haiti. I have also added a few organizations whose objectives relate to a need for the Haitian people like @Water or @charitywater.
If you could go back to when you first began using social media, what is one thing you would have done differently?
IntegrAid Inc is a small organization so there are a few people doing many things. What I can say, if we had the extra time and/or funds one thing I would do is develop a social media plan for the next year, most likely including an interactive element say a contest or give away to nurture the growth of our following, then hire a social media manager to execute the day to day implementation.
Still, it sounds like your group has made a tremendous impact with what you’ve got. What does Twitter do for you that nothing else can do?
I think Twitter gives us the ability to broadcast our message (or a link to the information you want to publicize) in a format that is quick to grasp, well suited to today’s busy schedules and the use of mobile devices, while conforming to people’s short attention span. The other plus I see is an opportunity to repeatedly post your message fueling market saturation unobtrusively to a revolving audience.
What lessons have you learned about Twitter and online marketing?
That social media marketing is here to stay! The learning curve is constant, for a small organization or business the ROI for social media is “usually” not worth the cost, though needed because of consumer expectation. Online marketing is the new medium for promotion and I believe will soon replace traditional marketing tools. My concern is because of the efficiency of digital marketing both in accessibility and consumer reach the qualities that make it a wonderful 21st century tool, done inefficiently, also could ruin the way a business or organization is perceived.
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