brandcause header In the News: Brand Marketers Embrace Social Media

By Tara Lane, Staff Writer

If you perform a Google search on any big company’s name with the word Facebook at the end, chances are the top result will be the company’s own official Facebook page. The same goes for Twitter and YouTube. CocaCola and Pepsi, Apple and Microsoft, Target and Walmart—they all have a presence on some social media platform.

Last week we reported on the recent statistics highlighting the social media revolution. The Internet was buzzing about the future of social media, media marketing, and how businesses can use social media to their advantage. This week, the results from a survey were released, detailing even further just how much social media has affected business and brand marketing. Within the next year, an astonishing 82 percent of brand marketers will be using social media to promote their brand, said Equation Research’s 2009 Marketing Industry Trends Report.

Now more than ever, it is essential to have a handle on social media. Not every platform needs to be explored, however. It’s about efficiently using your time while creating the most impact. Currently, many brands struggle with engaging users once the space is established. While the Equation report listed some great stats about social media, it also said that 37 percent of brands don’t know enough about social media to know where to begin.

Social media connects businesses to customers and clients in a unique way, engages them in meaningful conversation, and opens doors to options that couldn’t have been explored just a few years ago. One of the biggest doors social media has opened is the ability for businesses to promote social causes and missions, and the emerging trend of social entrepreneurship. Uniting users through a cause built around your brand is incredibly valuable–as it engages them on a high, meaningful level. Through this, the communication can make an impact and also send a message to customers that the company is interested in more than just making a profit.

Here are just a few examples of how social media is leading the way for social good:

Target: For years, the company allocated a certain percent of their profits to charities chosen by the company. This past year, Target announced that they were handing the power of giving to the people. For two weeks, Target opened a poll on its Facebook fan page allowing users to vote for the charity of their choice. At the end of the voting period, the company split up $3 million dollars among each charity based on the number of votes. More than 167,000 fans voted, with a total of 291,399 votes all together. With the success of this venture, it wouldn’t be surprising if Target featured the event again.

Charity Water: In September 2008, a group of people in London got together through Twitter and organized an event for a local charity. What started out as a one-city event has since become a worldwide phenomenon; the first global Twestival happened in February 2009, and raised $250,000 for Charity: Water. Its overwhelming popularity prompted a second Twestival, which will happen in September. People from cities around the world organize and promote their individual events via Twitter, each raising money for a selected local charity.

Using social media to promote social change is an effective way to engage new audiences. When people see something greater than themselves, they want to join in and be a part of it. It works in favor for the brand, because the name becomes associated with more than just a product, and makes customers aware of the good the company is doing outside the four walls of an office building. There are thousands of causes being helped by social media each day. As companies feel their way through the social media cloud, it will be interesting to see how brand managers approach this trend, and what new changes for social good will come out of it.

Photo by Barunpatro from Stock.Xchng