Surely you have seen the many studies, articles and posts (see Gini’s take) — including a couple on this blog — over the past few months about corporate blogging’s decline. In thinking about the matter, I decided to reverse my personal decision to exclude a blog roll here.
The best way to support blogging is to highlight your favorite reads as often as possible. While I do this every hour during the business day on Twitter, these blogs seem to get shared the most on my feed. Of course, there are many great blogs out there, so feel free to add them in the comments. And you can always visit my blog roll on the first column to the right.
Due to the late release of Welcome to the Fifth Estate, the opportunity to coincide the book with last Spring’s speaking engagements was lost. In lieu of a book tour, it seemed appropriate to go on a blog tour.
The following nine blog posts are Fifth Estate themed social media pieces about different subject threads in the book. Thank you Adam, Jason, Jesse, Danny, Allyson, Gini, Frank, Team Mashable and Brian for the opportunities.
If anyone has additional questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section. We’d love to continue the conversation.
Q1. How can nonprofits promote corporate partners’ investments (as part of their CSR programs), in ways that add value to corporations and also resonate with stakeholders?
There needs to be a clear value proposition that works for all parties. That means it takes more than simply offering a $5 donation with every purchase, although, in the end, that may make sense. Let’s look at two examples:
1) KFC and Komen came under fire this year for pink buckets of fried chicken. The fatty food and breast cancer combo did not resonate well for all of its stakeholders. What would have worked (may be not as well for sales) a little better for all parties is pink buckets of grilled chicken. The company gets the responsibility and marketing points, Komen better serves its mission, and non KFC customers may be more inclined to visit a KFC fast food restaurant.
2) Staples and DonorsChoose offers a great cause shopping model. Buying at Staples equals an investment in education, and one the customer chooses. Clearly a win for DonorsChoose and the customer, but also Staples. Why? Because Staples is an office products company. Most of the workforce that needs its products has a college education. Win, win, win.
Q2. What cutting-edge, creative types of promotion would make a nonprofit a leader in this arena?
Geez, that’s a tough question. Promotion and leadership seem opposed at times online. While you can certainly claim leadership, it’s really about serving online stakeholders with valuable content and activities for cause purposes. When you are successful at that, the community often promotes your effort faster than you would. The types of promotion – blogging, social network participation, crowdsourcing – really are a means to the end. Without the core understanding and service to the community, the cause marketing will fall on deaf ears.
So Pepsi’s Refresh, while annoying at times with its constant retweeting and vote for me asks (Geoff’s opinion), succeeds because the participants care enough to submit proposals and get the ideas promoted, and hopefully voted on… Thus promoting Pepsi. Even better for Pepsi is when voters also promote their favorite projects. But if leadership was contingent on Pepsi’s promotion solely, Refresh would not have been a success. It would have been a bad ad campaign.
Q3: What is cause marketing? How do you define it?
At its best, cause marketing is a subset of corporate social responsibility. CSR seeks to benefit a company’s community of interest with philanthropic acts, often in the spirit of the company’s natural interests. So for example, an auto manufacturer would have a natural interest in fostering better education for those inclined in core engineering studies such as math and science, or in supporting science that creates better hybrid vehicles that reduce gas emissions.
Cause marketing ties CSR with marketing by demonstrating to and even involving a customer or stakeholder base in the philanthropic activity. This can be marketing for a variety of reasons. Whether its branding, reputation, or direct sales.
Consider the Dow Live Earth Run for Water. Clearly Dow was trying to reinvest in its the community and reverse some of the past negative effects pollution has created on its brand. While the community didn’t react in an overwhelming positive to Dow’s efforts, it was a beginning first step to better its image, a clear marketing effort with a CSR bend to it.
Q4. What should be the nature of the relationship between companies and nonprofits?
In our opinion, it should be a well reviewed business deal for both organizations. A company clearly has some sort of marketing benefit it would like to achieve. And it is willing to pay for it.
But the nonprofit also has a stake in the game. It needs to decide whether the dollars will make the right impact on its programs and/or mission. It, too, will benefit from branding, but if the marketing crosses a line and conflicts with the larger organizational goals then the nonprofit should make a strategic decision to negotiate or say no.
In two prior examples, KFC and Dow, the nonprofits and causes involved suffered negative brand hits for participating in their respective efforts. Now, the money may have outweighed the negative consequences, but these are good examples of nonprofits that may have negotiated, and possibly could have done more to protect their brands.
Q5. How many cause marketing partners is ideal?
There’s no real limit, but there is such a thing as over exposure. Another question with multiple partners is while marketing may happen, is change occurring? Or are there so many chefs in the kitchen that the food is getting burned?
Again, this ties back to the nonprofit and organizational missions and programs. Does the cause marketing achieve these goals, or is it just energy invested in branding that doesn’t help the larger effort? This should be the ultimate barometer of a yes or no.
Q6. What are recommendations for achieving a good holiday social media campaign?
Holiday social media is critical to a cause’s effort. Forty percent of donations occur in the month of December, while 10 percent occur during the last three days of the year (source: Network for Good).
Allyson Kapin, editor of Care2’s Frogloop blog, suggests that the three most important elements of a holiday fundraising (or any) social media effort are 1) Building an effective email list, 2) building an effective landing page, and 3) storytelling, the heart of compelling people to participate online. The latter part is critical because if your cause is going to make eight or nine asks during the holiday season to cut through the clutter, you need to tell a great story.
Cause shopping may be a great win-win in these situations. Companies, too, are heavily reliant on end of year sales for profitability. So if a consumer can 1) purchase a gift while 2) making a donation, it can become easy. In many ways, this is the ask to the consumer. But without a compelling story, it’s just not going to work well.
An example of a cause shopping experience that achieves the four essentials of cause marketing (suitability, authenticity, transparency and selling point) is the Clinique “Happy Day” each year in December. Last year, Clinique worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters to create personalized holiday cards that embodied happiness during the season of giving. The cards were available to customers in store or online with a $30 purchase of Clinique products – a great tie-in to the cosmetic brand’s “Happy” product line. Clinique made a $350,000 donation to the charity and helped build awareness for the Big Brothers Big Sisters mission and programs. This year, be on the lookout for a new twist to the “Happy Day” campaign on December 10th.
The third Twestival will be held this Thursday in cities all over the world. A great event created by my friend Amanda Rose, Twestival has already benefit Charity: Water and hundreds of local charities with its global movement. This Spring’s effort will benefit Concern (on Twitter), an organization that seeks to provide education aid to some of the world’s most impoverished communities.
By partnering with Concern, the 2010 Twestival is aiming to highlight eight areas which are preventing some of our poorest youth around the world from going to school and getting the education they need. With the event just around the corner, Twestival has already raised more than $130,000 for this worthy charity. It is on track to surpass more than $1 million in combined charitable donations to date for all of three Twestivals.
“The power of Twestival is not just in the amount of money it raises for inspiring nonprofits like Concern, an organization whose mission it is to end extreme poverty,” said Allyson Kapin, editor of the Care2 FrogLoop blog. “It’s in Twestival’s incredible reach across communications channels, and how they help to raise awareness about nonprofits and social justice issues through earned media and word of mouth.”
I’ve been on a whirlwind tour of the blogosphere, providing guest posts to several friends and organizations. Here’s a brief summary: Last week on Live Earth’s blog, find my recap of the G20 summit and it’s impact on the Climate Bill. This was part of the #lovetheclimate campaign effort. I also wrote a brief summary of our Flickr group, which features some fantastic photos:
[Photographers] created a beautiful permanent testimony to the awesome beauty of Mother Nature, reminding us of what we are seeking to protect. The group slideshow cannot help but leave you stunned by Mother Nature’s beauty.
By the way, maybe, just maybe Senators heard everyone who loved the climate over those two weeks. The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act was introduced yesterday. Thank you to everyone who participated.
On Care2’s FrogLoop blog this Monday, I wrote a post on integrating social mediainto a nonprofit’s larger communications effort. This is particularly timely with the holiday giving season coming up. How do you turn an organic conversation into something more, perhaps a donation or an action?