Social media is a revolution that wields mighty power when it comes to the way communities acquire information and make decisions.
This is especially evident in the case of Leon Piers, the hipster on a fixed gear who single-handedly united a network of civilians and police during the UK Riots in August 2011, with the Twitter handle @BristolRiots. Piers accomplished this by tweeting live updates while riding around the city and providing valuable, unbiased information during the chaotic riots.
Individuals now have the power to affect the way entire communities think in a way that was never before possible. One meaningful, or at least interesting, post can spread like wildfire, sparking the phenomenon known as “going viral”. Social media gives brands a direct link to individuals, and offers an opportunity to humanize the consumer experience. In essence, brands are no strangers to linking campaigns to social projects. For example, Toyota leveraged the concept of connecting daily tech activity to social responsibility with their 100 Cars for Good campaign.
With more brand choices than ever and millions of people tuning in to the loud social media-generated buzz, the ultimate question is why: why should we care, and ultimately care enough to share?
The answer is perhaps less complicated than anticipated. Now with special interests and an abundance of choices, marketers often direct their attention to niche pockets of society. This consumer eco-system of many products for many people can create a vacuous customer experience, but value can be added to their business plan.
Where is the value? More and more demographics are paying attention to their role in social responsibility. As Anneliza Humlen of Emotional Branding puts it: “Retail brands who understand and embrace the social role they play in a community’s well being … will not only contribute to improving the local ecosystem, but also benefit from community trust and loyalty.”
Brands can generate added value for their campaigns and messaging by actively contributing to a greater good. Whether it’s through environmental initiatives, sponsoring community events or engaging fans in contests that partner with fundraiser drives. A corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign should center around a brand’s identity.
Enabling a giveback component to purchasing unites communities, empowers consumers and gives brands a chance to participate in social causes that matter to their customers. Finding a way to resonate with a brand demographic and do well by doing something good is a win-win for brands and consumers alike, ultimately creating a healthy eco-system through social media.