Social Networking Boosting Haiti Aid Efforts

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Large numbers of Facebook users have donated money, food or clothing to help the disaster relief efforts in Haiti

Almost 40 percent of Facebook users polled in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia have donated money, food or clothing to help the disaster relief efforts in Haiti after it was hammered by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake on 12 Jan.

The Nielsen Company and Facebook polled 50,641 Facebook users ages 13 and older this week. This is but a small sample of the 350 million Facebook users worldwide, but the ratio of 40 percent is still encouraging.

How did respondents contribute to Haiti’s disaster relief? About 13 percent of the survey respondents said they sent money, clothing and food donations through SMS (Short Message Service) text messaging.

“New methods of donation have taken off: 13 percent of respondents have donated to Haiti relief through a text message on their mobile phone,” Nielsen said in a statement. “That number is higher in the United States, where 23 percent have donated through text messaging.”

Moreover, roughly the same percentage of adult respondents 50 and older have donated through text messaging (12 percent) as teens 13 to 17 (14 percent). Compared with the teenage group, Facebook users ages 50 and older were twice as likely to have submitted donations, no doubt due to the fact that they are more likely to have jobs—and higher-paying ones—than the teens.

As social groups are wont to do, most Facebook users expressed solidarity in their view of big businesses’ contributions to help Haiti, with 42 percent of the respondents saying corporations are not contributing enough. Twenty-nine percent of the respondents, likely corporate workers themselves, said corporations are chipping in fairly.

In a sign of just how widespread the ripple from the quake was, 9 percent of Facebook users polled said they or their family or friends have been personally affected by the quake.

Nielsen posted its results here, with some fairly granular details, including breakdowns of whether users have donated money, goods or both, as well as whether or not respondents felt they were prepared for a natural disaster (Who is?) Moreover, about 46 percent of female users said they had donated, compared with 32 percent of males.

That so much charitable activity would be going on among Facebook users should come as no surprise. The site lends itself to group activities and people are spending a lot of time on Facebook. Nielsen found that that consumers worldwide spent an average of more than 5.5 hours on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter in December 2009.

The survey is a product of a research partnership Facebook and Nielsen struck in September to help marketers gauge the effectiveness of advertising on the world’s leading social network. Facebook wants to serve its massive user base relevant ads, while Nielsen aims to provide its market insight to help Facebook in this regard.

Speaking of mobile-oriented advertising, mobile ad companies took a break from slugging it out over who gets placement on the iPhone or Android devices to help the relief efforts for those impacted by the disaster in Haiti.

AdMob, Eyeblaster, Jumptap, Microsoft Advertising, Millennial Media, Ringleader Digital and other networks donated resources and ad-serving fees to broaden the reach of the American Red Cross Haiti relief efforts via Mobile Accord’s MGive text messaging mobile campaign.

In MGive, publishers MSN Mobile, Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger Mobile and E Online featured banner advertisements that let consumers click on the ads to learn more about how they could donate to the American Red Cross. Users could also text the number (“HAITI” 90999) to make a donation

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