Making Cause Marketing “Click” with Consumers

August 1, 2012 // By: // No Comments

Cause Marketing     

Cause-related marketing, social good, purpose-driven marketing — whatever name you use for corporate social responsibility efforts, the best way to implement it is changing.Emails, events, purchase-triggered donations and pinups represent the old tools of the trade, while social media emerges as the new. It has become one of the most successful and effective tools for cause marketing, but it too continues to evolve. New applications, software and techniques are being developed and tested to reach consumers with cause marketing messages. But regardless of the platform or tactic, here are some best practices for cause marketing via social media:

Start with clear goals

All successful marketing programs start with sound strategic planning and clear articulation of goals. You must create a strong link between your brand and the cause you wish to support. No amount of social media outreach will convince consumers to participate in your campaign if they perceive any disconnect between your brand and the cause, or if they feel your partnership isn’t authentic.

Be creative

Don’t just jump on the bandwagon of a large social movement that already has established and recognizable followings (e.g., creating something “pink” for breast cancer awareness). Exploring smaller, ownable cause partnerships can be more efficient and effective. Our client Barefoot Wines’ partnership with the Surfrider Foundation — “The Barefoot Beach Rescue Project,” provides one clever and compelling example. The program, which links directly to the brand’s equity, recruits consumers to participate in beach clean-ups in cities across the country and promotes the events via social media.

Treat each platform as a distinct entity

Facebook is great for storytelling and inspiring conversation. Twitter makes it easy to communicate quickly and frequently about campaign progress. YouTube can help bring your story or campaign to life visually. Learn and use the strengths of each social media platform to help enhance your program. Create unique content for each platform and give consumers a reason to engage with your campaign on multiple levels and at numerous times. The Pepsi Refresh Project is one of the most successful and cited examples of a fully integrated cause marketing campaign. It used a variety of platforms including a dedicated website, an action-oriented Facebook application, Twitter and widget integration, iPhone and Android applications, and YouTube videos.

Provide incentives

No matter how noble the cause, sometimes people need a little extra push to inspire action. Incentives come in many forms; some benefit the participating charities while others reward consumers directly for their participation. In the Maxwell House Drops of Good campaign, supporters were invited to vote online once a day for the community project they wanted to see win a $50,000 renovation grant and were asked to share the news with friends. As thanks for casting their first vote, Maxwell House provided an online coupon for $1 off one of its products.

Update people on progress and be transparent

As mentioned above, you must keep the online conversation about your program alive. Provide regular updates about the progress of the campaign. Post about the amount of money raised to date. Highlight the efforts of others who are supporting the cause or offering new information about the cause itself.

Be thankful

Saying thanks to the people or organizations who participate in your program is one of the most powerful ways to show them you care. As you develop tools and content for the social media elements you use, include an application or opportunity to say “thank you” when someone contributes, responds, interacts or shares information about your cause.

Technological innovation will continue to change the way we support causes and interact with consumers. But the guiding principles for successful cause-marketing communications — independent of platform or device — remain the same.

About the Author

Claire Gill

In her 21 years in the public relations profession, Claire has created and executed public relations programs for international organizations and major national brands in industries varying from food to fragrance. Currently, Claire helps lead the agency’s food and beverage practice.
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