Let’s start off by saying that it seems like social media has been getting a bad rap these days. Netflix’s The Social Dilemma hit our screens and challenged the very principles that underline its success, its addictiveness, the speed at which information – whether real or not – circulates, and the emotional impact it has on its users. We have been forced to evaluate how we use social media and how we will create campaigns in the future.
Back in 2019, just in time for the Canadian elections, we partnered with Protect Our Winters (POW) Canada, a non-profit fighting climate change, to launch the Fact Avalanche: an online tool designed to counter misinformation and scepticism surrounding climate change and engulf climate change deniers’ tweets in truth.
With more than 5,000 fact-ivists and 100 companies using the tool to fight climate misinformation, we quickly realised that, when done right, social media campaigns can actually do a whole lot of good.
Here are some of our key learnings for social media cause marketing done right:
01 — Inspire people
Cutting through the clutter on social media isn’t easy, but it starts with planting a little bit of inspiration that will grow and turn into the big, badass action you want to build up to. Making people care and want to participate is at the core of every social media strategy. But there are a few ways to tackle this one. For POW’s Fact Avalanche, we actually got people together offline before launching our campaign. A retreat kicked off the campaign to unite everyone working on the campaign – its partners and influencers – around the cause and our shared goal. It was ground zero for what was to come.
02 — Don’t make it about yourself
This one seems obvious, but it’s important to always keep in mind that you are not using a cause to sell your products or promote your services. It’s actually the opposite: you are using your power and your brand to serve the cause and make a difference. It’s as simple as that, and it’s important to never lose sight of this priority and to commit to it fully. It can be mutually beneficial, of course, but nothing is less genuine (and more obvious) than a brand looking to boost itself up by attaching itself to a cause. It can seriously backfire.
03 — Make every action count
Every campaign hopes for a level of shareability. Of course, who hasn’t heard the terms “build momentum” and “make it go viral” thrown around in a meeting? But simply sharing something is just the first level; it really needs to lead to something tangible for the user and the brand.
Why should people participate? Because when they do, it actually amounts to something. Their vote, their post, their tweet does not get lost in the shuffle; it builds towards your end goal of creating change. Making this clear from the get-go by defining how the actions will be received will improve the chances of people amplifying your message.
04 — People love to play
You can’t leave out the element of fun. It’s a key motivator and the reason why people will come back. Having fun while making a difference is really the sweet spot, especially when the audience consists of tech-savvy, cause-sensitive generations like Gen Z and Millennials. Using an existing tool in a creative and different way can pique interest. Or, if the investment permits it and the idea relies on it, create a new tool that gives people the chance to play and make it their own.
There are definite bonus points for creating something that no one has ever done before: not only will this hit the PR waves, but there is a huge element of discovery and entertainment in this experience that will be super memorable over the traditional ways of communicating.
05 — Find your allies
Harnessing collective passions is the best way to maximise a campaign’s impact, because there is no better way to build change than to do it in numbers.
One of the best ways is to create partnerships with like-minded people, brands and organizations. Not only does this lend credibility to your mission, but it allows people to galvanize their resources, influence and budget towards a single output.
On a side note, seeing competitive brands come together for a greater cause adds a much needed human layer to traditional marketing environments. Everyone has something to offer and it is an opportunity to call on everyone’s strengths.
While social media campaigns of this nature are starting to roll out, there is room for so many more. Using the potent effects of social media for good is how we will turn this negative narrative on its head.