It seems lately the more I talk to nonprofits about cause marketing the more I talk about social media and how the two are inseparable. Unfortunately, many aren't quite sold that these two belong together. Here's my case for why social media and cause marketing go hand in hand.
Social media teaches you cause marketing. Social media is the only tool I use to follow trends in cause marketing.
- I read the key blogs in my industry (Cone, Scotty Henderson, Mike Swenson, Paul Jones, Olivia Khalili & Cause Marketing Forum) via links on Twitter and my Google Reader.
- I follow several dozen people on Twitter who work in the profession.
- I'm a member of Cause Marketing Forum's Linkedin group.
Social media is a prospecting tool. Linkedin is the platform everyone thinks of for prospecting. But what of Twitter, Facebook, even Foursquare? I've already made connections through Twitter. Facebook has been a great place to gather background information on prospects. (Not everyone's profile is closed to outsiders. Mine is open to Facebook users within the "Boston Network.") While Foursquare is the new social media player on the block, I'm already watching who's using it and where they are checking-in. You never know when I might be there too!
Social media can build stronger partnerships. Social media is all about the conversation. The relationships I have with partners that use social media are almost always stronger than the ones that don't. (Of course, I may not be the norm as I favor what Malcolm Gladwell called the strength in weak ties.) There's a lot to be gained with a social media connection. It's instant, casual, sometimes personal and generally informational as a lot of sharing happens. Think of social media as the letter that rarely gets lost, the phone call that more often gets answered, the email that usually gets the reply or the unannounced visit that is not unwelcome.
Social media distinguishes you from your competitors. Cause marketing isn't that new for a lot of the businesses you're calling on. It has been around since the early 1980's, after all. But social media is brand new for almost everyone. Heck, Youtube is only five years old! When you combine cause marketing with social media, you get a more powerful pitch that gives you an edge over your nonprofit competitors. Business partners will appreciate that their "cause expert" is staying abreast of the latest trends and is open to sharing their expertise.
Social media is the future. 350 million people on Facebook and you think it's going away? Youtube is the second biggest search engine after Google and you think it's a fad? 90% of the businesses on the Inc. 500 list use Twitter and you think only kids use it? Whether you like social media or not, it's here to stay. It may not always be called Wordpress, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, but the online conversation genie is out of the bottle.
If you still don't think social media and cause marketing are the greatest match since PB&J that's up to you. But cause marketing alone will make the mouth stick when social media with it will make your pitch better and easier to swallow.
Don't be known as the person whose mouth is better stuck shut.