Japan Earthquake & Tsunami: 7 Simple Ways to Help

While the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami have passed, the recovery and mourning have just begun. The disaster could become the most expensive earthquake in history. The crisis could get even worse, depending on what happens next at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Now, more than ever, the Japanese people need our help and support to get through this crisis.

You don’t need to pack your bags and fly out to Japan to help, though. There are plenty of ways you can help online, whether it’s with your wallet or simply with your Twitter account. New technologies make it possible to lend a helping hand with your texts or even with virtual crops.

Every little bit counts. Here are a few ways you can help the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami:
1. Text to Donate

The American Red Cross has once again launched a texting campaign to raise money for relief efforts in the Pacific region. Last year, the Red Cross was able to raise over $20 million for Haiti relief through simple text donations.

If you would like to donate to the American Red Cross for Japan Earthquake Relief, just text REDCROSS to 90999. Each text will provide $10 towards the Red Cross’s humanitarian efforts.
2. Donate via Facebook

The Red Cross has also launched a campaign on Causes to raise at least $25,000 for relief efforts. By logging in to Facebook, you can donate anywhere from $10 to $500 to help Tsunami victims and their families.

As of publishing time, the Causes campaign has raised over $40,000 from over 1,000 donors and 3,000 promoters.
3. Buy Virtual Goods

Virtual sweet potatoes and the Japanese Tsunami may not seem related, but buying digital crops could help children affected by the earthquake.

Zynga, known for its effective social good campaigns, has partnered with Save the Children’s Japan Earthquake Tsunami Emergency Fund to get its users to donate money through the purchase of virtual goods in CityVille, FrontierVille, FarmVille and its other games.

100% of the proceeds from the purchase of sweet potatoes in CityVille, radishes in FarmVille or kobe cows in FrontierVille will go towards Save the Children’s efforts to provide relief in the Pacific. The world’s largest social gaming company is shooting to raise $2 million for relief efforts.

Zynga has raised millions of dollars over the last few years with these types of social good campaigns, most notably for the relief efforts in Haiti.
4. Embed Some Code

If you run a website and want to get your customers or users involved in relief efforts, all you need to do is embed a simple snippet of code.

The Hello Bar places a simple message at the top of your website with just a few lines of code. The service, which is in private beta, has decided to open its doors to anybody willing to help the victims of the crisis in Japan.

Simply sign up with the invite code “helpjapan” and you can quickly get the code snippet you need to embed a customized Hello Bar that will drive donations. Check out our full article for more instructions on how to add the donation bar to the top of your website.
5. “Like” a Facebook Page

The people over at Explore.org are donating $1 for every “Like” of the “Dog Bless You” Facebook page, up to $100,000.

Explore.org founder Charlie Weingarten delivered the challenge at South by Southwest yesterday. “Search and rescue dogs are a critical resource for emergency situations,” he told the audience.
6. Ways to Help on Twitter

Harness the power of your Twitter account to do some good for the people of Japan.

Earlier this morning, Twitter published a blog post detailing ways you can help with the relief efforts. Not only have they updated Japan’s mobile website with the latest information on the disaster, but they have also published a list of hashtags to tweet and/or follow related to the crisis.

Here are some key hashtags to remember:

#Jishin: focuses around general earthquake information
#Anpi: a hashtag for the confirmation of the safety of individuals or places
#Hinan: Evacuation information
#311care: a hashtag regarding medical information for the victims
#PrayforJapan: A general hashtag for support and best wishes for victims of the crisis

7. Donate via iTunes

Apple is also dedicating resources to the crisis in Japan. They have created a simple donation page in iTunes [iTunes link] that makes it simple to donate anywhere from $5 to $200 to the Red Cross with just a few clicks.

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Starter kit for a social media strategy

Creating a plan from scratch? These 7 tips will get you going

David Spark‘We need a social media strategy.” I hear this all the time. And companies have meetings upon meetings to discuss this. I’ve been a part of many of those meetings and it can be tiring to go through endless internal discussions as to what your social media strategy should be. You know what doesn’t work for a social media strategy? Not being social.

People just want to start.

Social media works when you become public about your discussion. So my recommendation is to fast track your social media strategy with the following recommendation.

While everybody’s situation is different, I find myself recommending the following basic model for most of my clients. Some of these recommendations are echoed in an article I recently wrote for Mashable titled, How to Jump-Start Your Career by Becoming an Online Influencer.

There are plenty of variations, but if you don’t know where to start, this model will work well for you.

Set up your own media outlet

TV StudioStep 1You need an outlet to publish your thoughts. You need a place where you can invite influencers and customers to be interviewed. You can’t become an online influencer if you don’t create content.

Repeating my mantra, “Content is the currency of social media and search.”

If you want to be traded and visible in social media and search, then you must create content – ideally good content.

There are many ways to do this, but if you want to save yourself a ton of headaches, complications, and cost simply set up a WordPress blog with a theme that’s optimized for social media and search, such as the Thesis theme. This blog uses WordPress and Thesis.

Create social identities

Step 2For most users and brands, you’ll want to have accounts and identities with the major sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Try to stay consistent and use the same username for all identities so as not to confuse yourself or your audience. KnowEm is a great service that will check across endless social services as to which names are and aren’t available.

Create a proactive editorial plan

Step 3Create thought pieces, how-to’s, explanations, videos, podcasts, or anything else that demonstrates your thought leadership in your space. This is where you form viewpoints that you hope to become leading opinions.

A simple way to produce a proactive editorial calendar is to simply ask your sales staff and sales partners, “Why are we losing sales?” You’ll get answers such as “We’re not even a consideration,” “They don’t know how we’re different than competitor X,” and “They didn’t think we had a solution for problem Z.”

Take all the answers, rank them 1-10 in terms of importance, and start creating content (e.g., articles, screencasts, how-to’s, case studies, video interviews) that answer those issues. Next time your sales staff are out in the field and they get hammered with one of these top ten questions, they’ll have your content as support and they’ll be able to close the sale.

For more advice on connecting content creation with your sales cycle, read “Be the Voice – Build Your Business by Becoming Your Industry’s Thought Leader.”

If you feel completely overwhelmed and you don’t even think you can start, read “Blogging advice for people who ‘have no time to blog.’”

Create a reactive editorial plan

Arguing ComputerStep 4Set up search queries for relevant industry terms, and follow your industry’s top people. For management of all this microblogging and blogging behavior, there are tons of options, but you might want to start with TweetDeck or HootSuite.

When you see stories trending, respond with a short blog post quickly, and then a comment on the source material with a link back to your blog post. If it’s a growing story, keep updating your blog post with time stamps. Make sure to message out to all the venues that care about this content (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and industry specific message boards).

Build relationships with your industry’s key influencers

Step 5Every industry has people that the rest of us look up to, read what they say, and respect their opinion. If you want them to start paying attention to you, pay attention to them first (Read: “Three simple tricks to getting influencers to pay attention to you”). Far too often influencer relationships are limited to pitching your product. Don’t do that. Instead, offer value to the influencer and the industry as a whole. I know you’ve heard it a million times before, but be genuine about your desire to form a relationship. They will soon see you as a resource, not a flack pitching your client’s product, and they’ll be eager to hear more from you.

Build relationships with really big brands

Step 6If you’re a small brand, and nobody knows your name, you have to start associating yourself with brand names that people do know. That means you have to align yourself with big brands. You do that by writing stories about them. How are big brands associated with your business? Are they doing things similar, different, could they benefit from you? Do you have any big brands as customers? Do you have any friends that work at big brands? Ask if you can interview them. Publish that story on your media outlet/blog.

Offer content to well-trafficked media outlets

Newspaper BoyStep 7When you start creating content, no one is going to know you exist. You may be a huge brand, but you may not be known as a voice in your industry. You can rectify your editorial anonymity by producing content for free on other well known industry sites. Simply approach the sites and ask if you can contribute. Just ask for a link back to your site.

Warning: This takes work, ongoing work, and lots of it. You need to make your social media strategy a part of of your ultimate marketing, branding, content, and customer service process. None of this will happen overnight. But you need to start somewhere. So get started.

Stock photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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