Social media connects us and disconnects us depending on how we use it, doesn’t it? It’s been nice to see social media doing good lately with cause marketing campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Campaigns like that connect us. Connect us to a cause and to the people impacted by that cause. Campaigns like that get us involved in a story and we’ve all been told it is stories that make it real. Stories can touch us and motivate us to get engaged.
So what is it that makes a compelling story? A story people will find important enough to share, to participate in, to support?
Six months after the ice bucket blowup, it is estimated 15 million people accepted the challenge, which resulted in $220 million raised worldwide for ALS research and support. A more subjective benefit is the significant awareness the cause campaign generated around ALS. Priceless.
Did you see the one about the fundraiser for the guy in Detroit who used to walk 20 miles each way to and from work. Someone told his story and started a fundraising page. As a result, he now has a $350,000+ nest egg, a free car, an apartment and a team of advisors helping him! Not to mention scads of people following his story and cheering him on.
And one more. It’s a cause campaign for an organization called Ruby’s Rainbow. The goal at Ruby’s Rainbow is to grant scholarships to adults with Down Syndrome seeking post-secondary education, enrichment or vocational classes. Individuals with Down Syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome, and March 21 (3/21) is World Down Syndrome Day.
The fundraiser is asking people to take the 3/21 Pledge by taking 3 simple steps:
1. Donate just $21 to Ruby’s Rainbow
2. Pledge to be kind and compassionate to peeps of all abilities!
3. Spread the word: Ask three friends to take the 3/21 Pledge and donate $21
Since its inception in 2012, Ruby’s Rainbow has granted over $100,000 in scholarships. Kelle Hampton tells the story so beautifully in her blog about the cause – part of what helped the campaign go viral.
So how can your organization be successful with social media campaigns? After all, it seems like an amazing new way to connect with donors and supporters.
Here are five things we think help make social media campaigns successful:
1. THEY START WITH A STORY.
The story is genuine, tugs at the heartstrings and restores hope in humanity. It usually includes a personal story of someone affected by the cause, supported by the cause, or successful because of the cause. It also encourages people to learn more about the cause, get involved, and provides the resources to do so.
2. THE STORY IS SO GOOD PEOPLE WANT TO SHARE IT.
More than likely an individual becomes aware of the story from a trusted friend. If the friend finds the story interesting and has shared it, it might be worth taking a look at! The story then makes its rounds through social media, gets picked up by bloggers expanding the audience further and finally, traditional news outlets from print, radio, TV and internet also pick up the story and run with it. A celebrity may even get involved and endorse the idea building the momentum even further.
3. IT’S CLEAR WHERE THE MONEY IS GOING AND THE ASK ISN’T FOR MUCH.
For example, Ruby’s Rainbow is trying to fund 21 scholarships this year. And their ask is just for $21. Easy. The Detroit fundraiser was supposed to get the gentleman a car so he wouldn’t have to walk. They asked people to give what they could. And ALS, they just wanted supporters to post a video but you could make a donation too. Easy (except the ice cold water part).
4. THE IMPACT OF THE CAMPAIGN IS MEASURABLE AND EASY TO FOLLOW WHICH KEEPS PEOPLE INTERESTED AND ENGAGED.
Organizations follow up with their campaigns by sharing the campaign’s impact on their website and through any communication to its donors. It is easy to find out what happened to the Detroit guy and how he is doing. We have the results of the Ice Bucket Challenge and how it helped ALSA. We can follow prior recipients of Ruby’s Rainbow scholarships and see what they are doing now.
5. THERE ARE IMPACTFUL WAYS TO GET INVOLVED WITH THE CAUSE BEYOND GIVING MONEY.
This opens the door for engagement from a larger audience.
Those with money, those with time to volunteer and those with the ability to support the cause in other ways – like sharing the information through their own marketing channels!
What stories does your organization have to tell? Can you make an ask to the social media audience which is simple and impactful? Is there something interested parties can do to help that doesn’t involve just giving money? Social media may just be your next best cause marketing campaign!