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Social (Activism) Media: Connecting With On-Brand Causes

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 13, 2010 10:15 AM

While charities are increasingly using not just the web, but social media, to spur donations, cause-wired philanthropy is coming of age for brands, too.

Startups like Social Reality evangelize to major brands the value add of becoming involved, while the powerhouse that is Facebook's Causes campaign has seen massive success connecting brands with consumers around a worthy cause.

Social Reality sells sponsorships for Facebook apps and web developers, maximizing brands’ ability to reach prized influencer cohorts. Among their largest publishers is Causes, with a reach of 140 million Facebook users. Co-founded in 2007 by former Facebook president Sean Parker, Causes engages consumers with P2P referrals and viral impressions.

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, a Causes investor, told Bloomberg, “I view these guys as the modern social revolutionaries. If they were born in the ‘60s, they would be protesting the war. Instead, they’re trying to change the world through the Internet.”

Social Reality recently added some blue chip brands to an already impressive roster of Causes brand partners: General Mills, Bank of America and Nestlé Pure Life.

“Our team has an unmatched understanding of the best practices that are essential to the success of social media campaigns. We’re not just raising awareness, we’re creating brand ambassadors who champion the brand and encourage their social circles to follow suit," says Social Reality's co-founder and CEO, Christopher Miglino.

Although more frequently covered by the media, the use of social media for philanthropy is still uncharted territory. “In the old-fashioned view, getting involved meant one of two things, giving time or money,” comments Randi Zuckerberg, director of market development at Facebook (and sibling of its infamous founder, Mark Zuckerberg), to the New York Times.

“Now there are a dozen things you can do in between, including giving your reputation. I think when we look back and can quantify it, we’ll see it’s pretty valuable to tell your network you are validating a viewpoint on something.”

General Mills' recent campaign Join My Village focuses on better futures for girls and benefits CARE International. In one month, the social initiative produced 75,000 new joins and 20 million newsfeed FB impressions. General Mills has pledged $1 for every new member up to $500,000.

“Causes is an amazing platform for Join My Village because it maximizes exposure among a host of civic and cause minded individuals. Its power is in the fact that individuals can make a difference just by raising their hand and saying they care,” says Betsy Frost, marketing manager at General Mills.

The Social Reality sponsorship team has developed and deployed campaigns for major brands including Ford, Coca Cola, Kellogg’s, Brown Forman, Proctor & Gamble, Nestle, and Purina.

Both Bank of America and Nestlé Pure Life used their Causes' platforms to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Healthy Kids Challenge Foundation, respectively.

Connecting brands with influential ambassadors is wired alchemy for philanthropic activism. Social revolutionaries or savvy entrepreneurs — or both?

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