Social Media and Cause Marketing

By Lisa Landry and Chelsea Blackstone, Savvy Workshop   

One of the hardest things to do is to get a cause you are passionate about to be noticed by others. It takes a lot of time and effort to build a following and even more time to cultivate a message that spreads. At NHBSR our cause is Sustainability. We focus on informing and encouraging businesses to be more sustainable into the future. One of the methods NHBSR uses is events. This gets the message to spread locally, but does not reach a national audience. However, reaching national audiences used to require a large investment which made it out of reach for many nonprofits. Social Media has made this so much easier than it once was and much more cost effective. A charity can send out a tweet and it can spread to millions of people and inspire real action for very little cost and effort. The goal is to bring awareness and raise money. The ALS Ice Bucket challenge is the best example in recent memory, but there are new actionable causes beginning every day on social media.  Here are some tips to help you spread your mission to others and to hopefully become the next Ice Bucket Challenge.

Choose A Cause That Matters To You

For NHBSR this is Sustainability and we have taken many actions to further that cause. However, there are many other worthy causes that are deserving of our attention. You will see new ones on your social media news feeds every day. You need to make sure the one you target is one you are passionate about to get attention. People want to feel like they can make a difference and you need to give them a reason to want to. If the cause isn’t at the core of your beliefs, people will know this and unfortunately turn their limited attention elsewhere. Show pride in your involvement and others will begin to start to see the need to get involved themselves. Make sure you explain what the problem is and how to make a difference, then call your audience to action!

Know Your Audience

One of the biggest factors in making the cause you are passionate about go viral is to know where your audience is. Many take to twitter as it is easy to share and spread quickly. Others choose YouTube for its quick video sharing. This really depends on who you want to reach. For instance, David Duchovny’s “Lick My Face” initiative features a challenge for dog owners to have their dogs lick peanut butter off of their faces with the pledge to donate a dollar per lick to Target Zero, an organization that establishes no-kill policies in animal shelters. Using YouTube holds those who take up the call accountable. People can help them count the number of times the dog likes their face and hold them to the promise to donate. Another charity who knows it’s audience is YearUp.

YearUp has partnered with LinkedIn to help get low income young adults to enter the professional world. The campaign requires professionals to help mentor and create yearlong internships to get these individuals trained to enter the work force. Unlike “Lick My Face”, YearUp would have very little success on YouTube. They need the aid of professionals and most businesspeople do not reside on the video streaming service. So where you post your message will make a difference as to whether it catches on. Do your research and post only where it is appropriate!

Make It Actionable

One of the most important things in any campaign is to make it easy to participate. This was the biggest selling point of the ASL Ice Bucket Challenge. The objective was simple, a participant filmed themselves getting doused with a bucket of ice water as a comparison to what it feels like living with ASL. This was easy to do and made the challenge accessible to anyone who wanted to participate. Those who couldn’t donate, could film themselves completing the challenge and spread it so maybe the people they spread it to could give. There was so much awareness that many people who did not frequent social media knew what the challenge was or participated. David Duchovney’s new “Lick My Face” Challenge is much the same. There is an easy call to action which raises awareness for his cause. Anyone with a dog can easily participate, and each person who does spreads awareness of the campaign. The farther the campaign goes the more likely it is to draw in donors.

Make It Trend

Now this is the hardest part. This is the part where many struggle. Getting people to sit up and take notice is where many causes don’t make the final step. You need to remember the steps, be passionate, know your audience, and make it actionable. If you ask too much people won’t be inclined to do the challenge, if you ask too little the message may get lost. It needs to be fun, so people want to do it, but also informative so people remember why they are doing the activity. It can be very hard to reach that perfect storm of relevance and a perfect call to action, but if you do the results speak for themselves. The ASL Ice Bucket Challenge raised $220 million worldwide for ASL research. So much good can be done if you follow these steps and you get trending. We wish you luck as you spread your good messages across the world. Keep fighting the good fight and work hard to make your mark!