red_cross_sharknadoFor all the social good it does, the Red Cross has had a rough start with social media. In just about every presentation given, the infamous #GettingSlizzard tweet rears its ugly head. And here it is, being talked about yet again in this post.

For those of you who do NOT know –

In 2011, due to a missed post in Hootsuite, a tweet was sent out from the main Red Cross account instead of a personal account (this is why you think twice, tweet once people!)

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Despite the mistake, the Red Cross (as well as the community manager who made the whoopise ) acted fast, acknowledged the mistake and apologized for it.

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The incident turned into a more positive situation when, there was a donation movement from Dogfish beer when #GettingSlizzard was re-tweeted.

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Fast forward to 2013 and the world was introduced to #Sharknado.


There is a very fine line between what is acceptable and unacceptable for brands trying to jump in and take advantage of hashtags and trending topics. In this case, it was brilliant! There were some very sharp thinkers behind the scenes at the American Red Cross, they decided to take the “opportunity to take a totally hypothetical situation and turn it into an opportunity to discuss disaster preparedness”.

They were able to get very important safety information and get it out where the eyeballs are. Not only were the tips potentially life saving but they were also topical, smart and funny.

When you think about ways your brand can jump in on a trending hashtag (or any hashtag) or memes – whatever bandwagon you are preparing to jump in on, you need to make sure of a couple of things:

  • Why is it trending? – You don’t want to take advantage of a tragic situation.
  • Is it relevant to my brand? – Just because something is funny, does not mean it fits your brand
  • Do it right – Don’t jump in without a plan. If you are going to do it, don’t do it half assed.

The Red Cross staffers also did a good job of interacting with the people who were talking about them that night.

It is great to be able to share a positive story about a brand utilizing social media in a creative and fun way. All in all, I say, when the social media speakers bring up the Red Cross in future presentations – they include the story of both hashtags. It was a great and memorable way to leave a good brand impression.

Well done, Red Cross. I’m looking forward to seeing you for #Sharknado2

Read more: 11 Hilarious Memes To Prepare for ‘Sharknado 2’