This morning I read a Smartblogs article on Social Media and Cause Marketing. It correctly points out that social media is an ideal platform for corporate cause marketing programs, and provides some useful tips for success. Definitely worth a quick read!
I’m a huge fan of using social media for cause marketing, and I believe social media has probably been the single biggest contributor to the resurgence of cause marketing campaigns (no data, just a hunch). But as I read the article, I reflected on numerous conversations I’ve had with big brand clients who love the idea of using social media as a platform for a brand-building, cause-marketing campaign, but are unable to pursue it.
One issue that often surfaces is that within large companies the online marketing, brand management and direct response groups are completely disconnected from community relations and corporate giving groups. The wall that exists between corporate giving and marketing is often quite high. Marketers are typically restricted from supporting charitable organizations (through a cause marketing campaign) that are not already approved and ordained as “causes we officially support.” If they go to the corporate giving department with a social media marketing idea, they are often rebuffed with a “thanks but no thanks – we’ve got it covered” mentality. If you can get past the empire building and actually get the departments to work together, you’ll still have to deal with a lot of red tape and slow progress. With the increasing pressure to deliver compelling results in a timely manner, “lengthy approval process” usually means “pass!”.
So while social media is the ideal medium for promoting a cause marketing effort, unless it bubbles up inside of the community relations department, great marketing / giving opportunities often die on the whiteboard due to politics and organizational dysfunction. It’s quite a shame.
That said, there are still many examples of companies that are doing it well. I just hope we start to see more of them!
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Steve Latham (follow me on Twitter)
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