Social Media Campaigns for the Social Good

Companies on the social web are always trying to create better relationships by doing good deeds. These social media efforts have created unusually good ways for companies to be able to partner with nonprofits and customers. The result is a series of wide ranging initiatives including contests, giveaways, fundraising drives and all sorts of events to benefit communities.

While both cause marketing and CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs have been around for a while with excellent campaigns, open crowd-oriented social media initiatives are relatively new.

These are some of the best corporate “social media for social good” campaigns to date.

Social Media

1. Donors Choose Crate & Barrel Gift Certificates

Crate & Barrel is an American chain of retail stores, based in Northbrook, Illinois. Part of their advertising budget is spent to send DonorsChoose gift certificates to its customers. These certificates allow them to pick which education initiatives they want to invest in online. DonorsChoose features projects that have been posted by teachers across the U.S., and potential donors can browse the projects and post their own reviews.

Since the effort started, 347,000 students have been impacted by more than 14,500 projects. This has resulted in 434,000+ hours of classroom instruction. In one benchmark study, 11% of the certificates were redeemed on the DonorsChoose website, and 82% of the customers who redeemed the certificates clicked on the button, “very likely to consider Crate & Barrel” for their next home furnishings or accessories purchase. This compares with 76% of a control group of customers that didn’t get certificates, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In this case study, the two groups of consumers experienced precisely the same store, products and sales associates. But the difference was that those who were given the option to take a “philanthropic action” after leaving the store, thought that their experience was much better.

2. Target Gives the Check to Facebook

In one of the first major crowdsourced contests in social media, Target’s Bullseye Gives program had a $3 million purse that was voted on over a 2-week period. Target let its Facebook community of over 900,000 decide between 10 non-profit organizations.

Target’s ‘Bullseye Gives’ was the first CSR effort that combined CSR with social media in a contest form, and many others followed, such as Chase Bank and Pepsi, almost to the point of contest fatigue, says Changeblogger Alexandra Bornkessel. “It was an innovative approach that got many involved, and got people talking.” She continues that Target learned a valuable lesson that even though it was a win for Target, it left nonprofits wanting even more, challenging everyone to do even better.

3. Ford Helps Invisible People Across America

Many of these campaigns feature large purses, but the important things to consider are visibility and impact. That’s why when Ford sponsored Mark Horvath’s drive across America, it was a game changer. The company provided Haovath with a Ford Flex and a company-promoted social site to Horvath’s “Invisible People” campaign. The end result was that Ford made homelessness a primary issue on the nostalgic American road.

Additionally, the eleven thousand mile effort legitimized Horvath’s “Invisible People” online campaign. Since then, he has become a national leader in the battle against homelessness.

“Homelessness is not a sexy cause,” said Horvath. “Plus, at the time I was unemployed, without any income and I just lost my house to foreclosure. Ford took a huge risk on me and it paid off for both of us.”

“Ford’s support of the Invisible People project was never one of lead generation; it was mainly because we believed in Mark’s mission and because it aligned with our own strategic initiatives,” says Scott Monty, the head of Ford’s social media program. “Since the very earliest days of the company, we’ve always believed in giving back to the communities in which we do business.”

4. Stonyfield Farms Says “Have a Cow”

The Stonyfield Have-A-Cow program was designed to educate interested parties about life on an organic farm and learn about its impact on the planet’s health. The CSR effort tied in beautifully with the company’s organic differentiator. Overall, Stonyfield has given away 10% of its profits to support the environment and organic programs.

“They’ve leveraged what is both part of their story and their social responsibility card into an engaging, educational and successful social media arsenal: Farm cam video diaries; blog with a farmer; Twitter account (with the standard customer service and promotions); online community and more,” said Changeblogger Amy Sample Ward. “Anecdotally, I’ve even found Stonyfield Farm’s content engaging enough that as a vegan I’ve still participated in the ‘have a cow’ program.”

5. The Pepsi Refresh Project

Pepsi Refresh is still being put together. The awards program isn’t granted yet and community impact hasn’t yet been determined. But there’s no question that Pepsi trumped the Super Bowl ad hoopla when it dedicated a huge $20 million budget to the crowdsourced community giving program. Fortunately, a weak year in Super Bowl ads helped make Pepsi’s decision look even more brilliant and it gave the company a lot of favorable publicity.

The contest also garnered significant support online. According to Jason Falls, author of the Social Media Explorer blog, “There are a lot of reasons why Pepsi Refresh works, but two stand out in my mind. First, it’s not just writing one check to a good cause to show you’re giving back, it’s a program that can make hundreds of little impacts over time, any of which may snowball into larger impacts.”

“The second reason it’s so powerful for Pepsi is that the decision of who gets the money is at least partially (and it seems more than just a small part) in the hands of us, the voters,” continued Falls. “We can help decide how Pepsi invests in our communities, our environment, our health and so on. It’s not just about supporting good causes, it’s about letting your customers help decide which ones are worth supporting.”

Tyson Delivers Hunger Relief

Tyson’s chicken-giving social media efforts have also worked well. The company has a hunger relief effort that has been in progress for over the past decade. The company sponsors several hunger-specific charities like Share Our Strength, and has donated more than 41 million pounds of meat to numerous food banks across the country.

“What sets them apart in my mind is that Tyson sincerely puts the cause first,” says Changeblogger John Haydon. “Billy Shore, founder of Share Our Strength, and other leaders recognize this long standing commitment from Tyson. Standing side-by-side with a common mission creates unity between these two organizations — and this can’t be overlooked.”

About the author:  Parker is a Content writer and editor at Key Difference. He writes successful unique eye-catching contents for many blogs across globe. Get in touch with him at

Leave a Reply