Facebook is a particularly appropriate medium for companies and causes to use when joining forces to engage consumers because “it’s a prime mobilization platform” explains Marc Blinder, creative director for Context Optional, a social media marketing company. “People want their friends to see them doing something good – those types of activities are very palatable in this medium.”
A new white paper from the Cause Marketing Forum traces the history of cause marketing on Facebook back to 2007 and explains the current lay of the land through these 4 popular campaign types:
Following the addition in 2009 of the “Like” button on the Facebook platform, a simple, one-click cause marketing format arose. The premise is simple. Every time a user clicks the “Like” button on a campaign’s or brand’s page, a donation is released to a charity. Although the most common contribution in these types of campaigns is not more than a $1 cash donation, the dollar amount may vary or the donation triggered may be an in-kind donation based on a specific number of Likes.
The ‘Like for a $1 Donation’ has dominated the cause marketing space over the past several years due to its simple-to-implement format. However, results have been mixed as to the effectiveness and resonance of such campaigns with key audiences as “Like Fatigue” has begun to set in.
Next in the hierarchy of consumer engagement are campaigns that ask consumers to take a simple action such as posting a picture, video or comment on a brand’s or campaign’s Facebook page in order to unlock a donation. These campaigns may also offer an additional incentive (such as a sweepstakes entry or access to exclusive content) above and beyond unlocking a donation in order to increase participation.
The desired outcome when users upload a picture, post a comment or broadcast a link is to harness the exponential power of the social network by having these actions organically shared across a user’s “six degrees” of friends. Due to Facebook’s Promotions Guidelines, Simple-Action-for-Donation campaigns including contests or sweepstakes are fueled by third party applications.
Custom-designed applications are often used in cause marketing campaigns in an attempt to increase user interest, engagement and sharing by making the consumer activity more appealing.
For example, users have been asked to “Set a Place” during Frigidaire’s Save the Children campaign of 2010, “Make a Bed” during TownePlace Suites’ American Red Cross campaign of 2010 or “Plant a Tree” during Timberland’s and various nonprofit partner’s campaigns in 2008, 2010 and 2011, to release a donation.
Apps can also function as fundraising platforms, as is the case with Causes, the longest-running fundraising app on Facebook. These fundraising apps enable cause marketers to drive user donations or actions and implement matching donation campaigns.
Causes users are able to unlock corporate donations in a variety of ways:
· By making a monetary donation to a cause that will be matched by a corporate partner.
· By earning donation dollars for the cause by joining the online cause community or participating in marketing activities such as watching a video or taking a survey.
For example, Aflac’s fall 2011 ‘Friend of a Feather’ campaign encouraged users to donate $10 to childhood cancer research.
Fueled by a hugely profitable virtual goods market, gaming applications have provided fertile ground for cause marketing, and integrated campaigns have begun to appear with increasing frequency.
Some games are designed around an existing cause marketing campaign such as Diet Coke’s February 2011 Capture the Flag effort in support of their ‘Heart Truth’ initiative. Other game companies have learned how to integrate cause into an existing game.
For example, after the tsunami in Japan, game developer Zynga partnered with nonprofit Direct Relief and sold a virtual Japanese Fan via their hugely popular game ‘Mafia Wars’. One hundred percent of the proceeds went to Direct Relief for earthquake and tsunami relief. Facebook even pitched in by donating their standard 30% cut of the virtual goods sales, and the result was that gamers raised $650,000 in only 48 hours.
Since U.S. virtual goods revenue on Facebook is predicted to grow 32% to $1.65 billion by the end of 2012, ‘gaming for good’ is an area of continued opportunity for cause marketers.
4) Voting Campaigns
In voting-driven cause marketing campaigns, companies offer a cash or in-kind prize to causes that gather the most votes or other targeted online actions. Facebook is often used as the campaign home. These campaigns have made a big splash because they involve large donation amounts and have garnered significant media attention. In 2010 the ‘Pepsi Refresh’ campaign raised eyebrows around the world when Pepsi announced it would forego spending money to air commercials during the Superbowl and would instead donate upwards of $20 million to local organizations and causes via a Facebook campaign where users nominated the organizations and charities to receive Pepsi’s donations.
Aviva USA’s Summer 2011 ‘Status for Youth’ campaign asked users to sign-up in advance to donate a status update to one of four pre-selected charities on a given day. The number of status donations each charity received determined how much of a $100,000 grant each organization received from Aviva (even the charity with the fewest votes received $5,000).
These voting campaigns have been successful in attracting attention, awareness, excitement and engagement in an otherwise cluttered social space. Voting campaigns are not without critics among nonprofit circles who report staff and donor fatigue after competing in such contests as well as a sense of unease in being pitted against other worthy causes.
Leading cause marketers predict that cause campaigns will continue to flourish in this medium. The trend will move away from one-off, one-click interactions and toward campaigns that deliver deeper engagement with brands that are authentically partnered with nonprofit organizations and able to demonstrate a clear impact.