Social networks at the service of humanitarian aid

In Geneva, where some one hundred leading international organizations have their headquarters, the communications departments now all have their own social media teams. From fundraising to building their reputation, an overview of how the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) use these “gifts for communication“.

An advanced social network strategy

The ICRC has as many social network accounts as working languages, i. e. 33, organised according to the geographical areas and inhabitants it wants to address. The ICRC has 30 Facebook pages, 33 Twitter accounts, 5 Instagram accounts, its own YouTube channel but also an account on Vkonkitk, Russian Facebook and 5 accounts on a Chinese equivalent platform. Digital content is not simply translated from one region to another. In fact, each digital team digs its head to adapt its content to its audience.

The ICRC also sometimes plays a public service role. As at the Aleppo headquarters, in Syria, where the organization created under the impetus of Henry Dunant has developed an application showing all the drinking water points that are still accessible on site. This application was based on the testimonies of its own delegates on the spot but also of the inhabitants who communicated through social networks with the ICRC. This map of the remaining drinking water points before the evacuation of Aleppo, Syria was inserted on Twitter and Facebook in particular.

UNHCR is organized according to a very specific model. A team is in charge of answering comments every morning from 9am to noon. These are comments related to refugees and concern the UNHCR platform (Twitter for example) which is being followed by 10.5 million people, including 4.5 million in English. It is the “lively community”. UNHCR also uses influencers -which it assures not to pay-for its leadership. Finally, a separate channel is dedicated to “communicating with communities”, the equivalent of the Aleppo water points map provided by the ICRC for local refugee communities.