How to Weave Cause-Related Marketing and Fundraising Tactics into Your Social Media Program

Now that most brands and businesses have finally dipped their toes into the social media waters and are making themselves heard on Twitter, Facebook and throughout the blogosphere, many of them are wondering what to do next with these relatively new communications platforms.

In fact, besides an obvious – and understandable – fear of social media, that’s the main reason so many organizations have hesitated to go in this new direction with their marketing in the first place.  Not everyone is sure how to use social media yet. And there’s certainly still a lot to learn about measuring and monetizing it.

After all, it’s one thing to be tweeting, updating and blogging.  It’s quite another to be parlaying such activities into actual conversations and transactions of the business variety.

But there is a social media marketing strategy that appears to have caught on out there, one that can help marketers like you do well by doing good for others, one that Minneapolis-based Target Corporation leveraged recently by way of its “Bullseye Gives” campaign (which I’ve already written about here), in which the retailer asked its audience to go to its Facebook Fan Page and choose – from a list of 10 – the charities it should “give to the most.”

The idea is to integrate cause-related marketing and fundraising tactics into your social media program so that your constituency will follow, friend and fan you out of kindness and generosity as much as their interest in your products and services.

If you’re supporting a charitable cause, others are more likely to support you in turn – and spread the good word on your behalf.

Wrote Brian Morrissey in Adweek in an article about the “Bullseye Gives” campaign (Adweek, “Cause Marketing Meets Social Media,” May 18, 2009)…

“For brands, particularly those in low-consideration categories like consumer goods, charities can become a cheap way to get access to the megaphones everyone has in social media.”

To the author’s point, I would just add that by joining forces with charities, brands and businesses of all kinds can appeal to the sense of altruism in everyone, providing their constituents with real incentive to act for the sake of giving, not getting, all the while positioning themselves as caring and considerate entities that are truly in touch with the community at large.

As Scott Henderson, Cause Marketing Director for MediaSauce, said in an interview with Beth Kanter on Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media

“Consumers want to know that the businesses they patronize are doing something for the greater community, not just for themselves.”

So if you’re about to take the plunge on your own social media program and you really want to make a splash, don’t overlook the power of cause-related marketing and fundraising. The tactics involved are only as limited as your imagination.  You could…

*Make a donation for every one of your followers, friends and fans.
*Reward a re-tweeter with a contribution to his or her favorite charity.
*Leverage the popularity of consumer-generated media (CGM) and ask your audience to tell you – in   words, pictures and videos – where to put your charitable dollars.
*Post frequently about a cause or nonprofit organization you believe in strongly.
*Stage a contest among a short list of charities, with the one making the best case for the furtherance of its mission receiving a substantial donation from you.
*Give away your products or services in the form of a free “makeover” to those who are less fortunate than you.
*Host a fundraising event that brings together like-minded people on behalf of a good cause.
*Encourage your constituents to develop their own unique ways of giving back to the community, lending your financial support to those who demonstrate the most initiative, innovation and inspiration.

Indeed, there are many ways to call attention to your social media activities so that your efforts on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and the like aren’t in vain.  But giving a piece of the action to your favorite nonprofit organization may be the best of them all.

According to Gavin O’Malley in Online Media Daily (Online Media Daily, “Conventional Cause Marketing Evolves Via Social Media,” March 15, 2009)…

“In the United States, IPG’s Lab found that 92% of consumers said they have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause, while 87% said–when price and quality are equal–they are more likely to choose a brand associated with a cause.”

The bottom line is if you’re wondering what to do next with social media, try giving support to a charitable cause.  What you’ll get in return may be a pleasant surprise.

For more social media strategies, check out our webinar, “How to Build your own Blog and Social Media Marketing Strategy”

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