Ensuring success for a social cause marketing campaign

August 2, 2012

By TRAY creative

This is the third in a four-part series examining how companies are leveraging their influence to drive social good, and joining their customers and fans in a demonstration of shared values—all through social media.


Here are tips 5-8 for ensuring the success of your social-media driven cause-marketing campaign.

5. Let people choose.

Give participants the opportunity to select which specific nonprofit organization receives campaign funding. A study published in the Journal of Marketing reveals that consumers respond favorably to choice in cause-marketing campaigns not necessarily because it allows them to pick the charity that aligns most closely with their personal values, but because it empowers them to control the direction of the campaign. If you have limited funds to donate, limit the number of choices. If you’re already committed to working with one particular nonprofit organization, you can still give consumers an element of choice by allowing them to vote on, say, user-submitted creative entries or individual projects to be funded within your nonprofit partner’s portfolio.

6. Mitigate the risks.

In a social media campaign, the more control you cede to the public in the form of voting, nominating, or commenting, the greater the risk. JP Morgan Chase found this out the hard way with its Community Giving campaign on Facebook, in which it awarded millions of dollars to nonprofits as voted by users. Chase wound up disqualifying at least three nonprofits for ambiguous reasons; those groups accused Chase of not wanting to be associated with their missions. Moreover, allegations of fraud popped up in the contest’s final hours, when it came to light that the second-place organization may have been stuffing the virtual ballot box. Lesson: Lay out the rules very clearly and post in a highly visible place. If you have restrictions on which types of causes are eligible, say so. And while fan voting is largely out of your control, be sure to state that the results are subject to internal review.

7. Don’t forget other key stakeholders.

Even though your campaign will be largely driven by loyal customers, brand advocates and social media followers, be sure to promote the initiative to other vital audiences, including employees, vendors, suppliers, business partners, industry groups and trade associations. Within these groups are people eager to spread the word to their own social circles, thus expanding the potential impact.

8. Determine clear objectives and metrics for success.

Together with your nonprofit partners, establish benchmarks for the campaign, utilizing such factors as the number of people signing a pledge, the funds raised for cause, website traffic or click-through rates, Facebook “Likes,” the number of video views on YouTube, or Twitter hashtag usage. The most relevant ones, including pledges and fundraising goals, should be shared with the community at the time of launch, to keep everyone focused on the road ahead.

Coming in Part 4: Tips 9-12 on how to build a modern cause-marketing campaign

Brands and customers joining forces for social change
Tips 1-4 on how to build a modern cause-marketing campaign