Webinar Recap: Using Facebook for Cause Marketing

This post also appears on Volunteering is CSR.

Cause Marketing on FacebookEveryone knows that Facebook — with 800 million active users — is where people spend much of their time on the Web (28% log on before even getting out of bed!).

Many companies and their nonprofit partners are still figuring out the best way to get these users involved, but for some the experimentation has paid off. For our December Best Practice Network webinar, we invited Megan Strand, Director of Communications at Cause Marketing Forum, to share findings from her recent whitepaper, “Facebook and Cause Marketing: Truths, Tips and Trends from Pioneers.”

The Perfect Match

Facebook seems tailor-made for cause marketing. We support causes for the same reason that we use social media in the first place: to connect with other people. Facebook ad revenues are surging, and if users share your content, you gain the broadcasting power of the second most visited website in the world.

The opportunity is there. To find out what works and what doesn’t, Megan interviewed over 25 cause marketers from both corporations and nonprofits, and surveyed over 100 campaigns on Facebook.

Like all social media, Facebook is still new territory, and nonprofits and companies are still figuring out the best cause marketing approach. Megan said that people are most drawn to a cause when it’s shared by someone they trust—even a celebrity endorsement doesn’t have the same pull. The tricky part is creating a compelling and original campaign.

Megan highlighted several different kinds of Facebook cause marketing campaigns so that you can choose a model that both speaks to your audience and caters to your organization’s strengths.

Types of Campaigns

You’ve probably seen several like for donation campaigns on Facebook, where users ‘like’ a company’s group page to prompt a donation. They’re simple—nonprofit partners are usually receptive and wont need much briefing, and companies gain the ear of the consumer.

However, the popularity of these campaigns has led to what Megan calls ‘like fatigue.’ They may come off as unoriginal, and people don’t always want to publicly endorse a brand they’re not familiar with.

Simple action for donation campaigns go a step further, asking people to write a comment, or upload a photo or video to a company’s page. Due to Facebook’s most recent update, this type of engagement is much more likely to appear in the news feed and be shared than a simple ‘like.’ There’s also more room for creativity – you can come up with a way to tie the action in to the cause. A clever or entertaining campaign will grab the user’s attention.

You can add another level to your campaign with third party applications, which can be embedded directly on a company’s group page. These interactive action for donation campaigns require a little planning, but users are more likely to participate since you’re offering a fresh experience.

American Red Cross's interactive action for donation campaign

For example, there are many fundraising platforms, like Causes, that make it easy to launch a matching donation program. An optional incentive is a great way to spice things up. Users can elect to provide a mailing address to receive a plush toy, for instance, which is another valuable link for companies. Megan also discussed branded activities, where users watch a marketing video or take a survey in order to raise money for a cause.

The Next Big Thing

Facebook game applications are the sleeper hit of cause campaigns. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has called them “the most successful apps on Facebook.” Over half of Facebook’s users play games, and 20 percent have already paid for in-game benefits, like virtual items. It might surprise you, but the average social gamer is a 43-year-old woman (sounds a lot like the average volunteer and donor!).

Social gaming leader Zynga partnered with Direct Relief International, offering gamers a virtual Japanese fan in their game, “Mafia Wars.” All proceeds went to the March tsunami relief effort, and they were able to raise $650,000 in just 48 hours.

Zynga's campaign for tsunami relief

Revenue from these virtual goods is expected to grow a whopping 32 percent in 2012. There is huge potential for cause marketing campaigns, either by partnering with an existing social gaming company or creating an original one-off app that ties in with your current campaign. If your supporters are gamers, this could be a golden opportunity.

Megan gives a more in-depth explanation of the logistics of cause marketing campaigns in her whitepaper, which is available for purchase.

You can learn what went wrong when Timberland’s tree planting campaign attracted nearly six times the number of expected users, and the best measurable objectives to set in the planning phase. You can also watch the full presentation on our YouTube Channel.

Be sure to check back with us in 2012 to register for the next Best Practice Network Webinar.

Pictures taken from “Facebook and Cause Marketing: Truths, Tips and Trends from Pioneers” presentation by Megan Strand.

Jesse Fineman is an intern at VolunteerMatch. You can reach him at jfineman@volunteermatch.org

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