Social gives cause pushes a lift

Major brand marketers, such as Coca-Cola and Walmart, are giving consumers some control over their corporate giving campaigns through the use of social media. Both recently launched programs where donation amounts were determined by how often consumers interacted with the brands online.

Walmart partnered last month with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on a social media campaign. The “Lend a Paw” initiative encouraged consumers to visit a Facebook page and post messages. The retail giant donated $1 for each post up to $100,000, and also urged consumers to donate directly to the ASPCA.

The web-based donation drive has helped the ASPCA raise brand awareness and gather donations without requiring long-term commitments from consumers, said Elysia Howard, VP of marketing and licensing at the organization.

“Social networking has been a really fabulous tool for engagement,” she said. “All consumers have to do is click and money is donated; they don’t have to reach into their own pockets or go to a different page or buy something, they just have to click. We can also see quicker results.”

Coca-Cola North America also allowed consumers, by their interaction, to determine how much money the company would give to a charitable partner. A recent Facebook-centered initiative, which used the tagline “71% of the Earth’s surface is ocean. Shouldn’t 100% of it be clean?” encouraged consumers to download a Facebook app to “oceanize” their photos. For each download, Coca-Cola pledged to donate $1, up to a total of $200,000. The company also pledged up to $50,000 through the MyCokeRewards program.

The beverage company is attempting to “support our charitable giving initiatives in an entertaining way” through the push, said company spokesman Christian Pflaumer, via e-mail.

“Our Facebook fan pages are very important to us, as they allow two-way dialog with the people who love our brands,” he said. “We are always looking for new ways to share our initiatives with [customers] and to hopefully inspire and empower them to get involved themselves.”

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