In a 2010 investigative report by Forbes.com that set out to determine who was responsible for coining the phrase social media, former AOL executive Ted Leonsis was quoted as defining the term social media as “places where they (internet users) can be entertained, communicate, and participate in a social environment.” Since this 2010 article, social media use has increased by 15% and Facebook, the longtime, chart topping social media site, boasts a whopping 1.5 billion active members worldwide.

As marketers, these numbers provide strong evidence that we must dedicate resources to the research and collection of data on social platforms as well as user’s behaviors on these platforms, so that we are better equipped to truly connect with these users.

According to a Pew Research Center study on Why Americans use Social Media, the top reasons are predictably connecting with friends and family or reconnecting with old friends with whom users may have lost touch over time. However, a slightly less predictable reason for membership includes connecting around shared hobbies and interest.

Another important data point about social media users is their objection to being marketed to via their chosen media channels. According to a 2014 Gallop Poll, consumers do not use social media to buy products and due to the personal and conversational nature of these platforms, users do not respond well to companies that utilize social media to sell.

This means that businesses who take Leonsis’ definition of social media to heart and keep their social media messages social, personal, and human are more likely to build what Gallup describes as “a customer’s emotional or psychological attachment to a brand, product, or company.”

So, while you, the business owner or manager, cannot create attachments with the majority of social media users base on your status as friend or family member, you can create a link through possible shared hobbies or interests that motivate internet users to join social sites and thus create an emotional bond.

Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that 75% of all American adults are active in some kind of voluntary group or organization and social media users are even more likely to be active than than non-users. The users who were surveyed stated that the internet and social media play a major role in their ability to volunteer their time and to contribute money to causes they deem important.

Additionally, the 2012 Edleman Good Purpose study found that 72% of the people surveyed would be willing to recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t and as many as 44% of survey respondents said they would be willing to pay a premium for a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t. This supports a theory that Cause Marketing can be an effective strategy for bond-building and ultimately business-building.

Clear Edge Marketing defines Cause Marketing as “initiatives which are potentially profitable, by a for-profit organization to raise awareness, funds and/or consumer participation in social or environmental causes.”

Cause Marketing meshes well with the social media format and there are additional benefits for businesses who adopt cause marketing as a part of their brand strategy. Aligning your business with a cause can differentiate your business from your competitors and help guide your media message but it can also help to determine your mission, develop core values, align your staff and build positive public relations within your community.

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is an example of a company who embraced cause marketing to tackle an important social issue, that was, at same time, aligned with their brand.

social-advocacy-Dove

According to CauseGood.com, “Dove found that only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful. Based on this information, Dove launched a campaign to address the fact that society’s depiction of beauty in advertising had become unattainable. This well-executed cause marketing example received considerable attention and praise, raising Dove’s brand ethos with consumers and earning them droves of new customers. Since the campaign’s initial launch in 2004, sales have impressively increased over 60%.”

If you are working to develop any aspect of your brand, a member of Manning Media’s marketing team is just a phone call away. We have the knowledge and training to help you tackle whatever issues your business might be facing. Contact us in Frederick by calling 301-620-7700 or in Hagerstown by call 301-733-4500 or fill out our online request form by clicking HERE!

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