Social Media for MORE than just marketing?

world1.jpgIn support of blog action day, I want to share with everyone a few ways businesses can use social media to do more than just add to their bottom line.  The topic for 2008 is poverty and, as we are a social media marketing agency, we want to help businesses use social media to not only market their products, but also to be better corporate citizens.

Max Gladwell wrote a post Monday on Sustainablog on ways to use social media to change the world.   (A follow-up post to 10 Ways to Change the World Through Social Media.)  In these posts, he lists some great social sites and social media tools allowing people to spread and connect on social issues.  Here are just a few of the sites Max found:

  • KIVA – A community where individuals or groups can connect to lend money to entrepreneurs in developing countries, helping them get on their feet and out of poverty.
  • CauseCast – A community where you can share your cause with others, donate to partner organizations, and promote or find local events.
  • Just Means – A LinkedIn-type community where businesses and professionals concerned with social change and protecting the environment can connect.

So how does this apply to social media marketing?  For ethical companies that truly care about their social responsibilities, marketing shouldn’t only be about selling a product.  Social media marketing allows companies to talk with consumers and take a stand on issues.  It also allows companies to hear directly from consumers which issues are most important and how they can help.  Here are some ways that companies can use social media to make a difference in the world.6degreesbadge.jpg

  •  Educate and inform – Your customers will appreciate knowing where you stand on the issues that affect them most.  Maybe you already share this information with your shareholders in an annual values report to make them feel better about investing in your company.  Or maybe these are unofficial values shared among your employees.  Either way, every company has a certain set of values (or at least it should) but few take the time to really tell or show the world that they care about more than just profit.  We know that no one’s perfect and we know you need to turn a profit to survive, but letting others know that your company is socially aware and committed to being better corporate citizen can’t possibly hurt your bottom line.
  • Raise money – Most companies already contribute to charities of some kind.  Why not give more then ever by raising money among your employees and loyal customers?  McDonald’s has no problem asking its customers to pay an extra dollar to write their name on a paper hot air balloon (and contribute to the Ronald McDonald House.)  Why not activate your customer base too?  Six Degrees allows anyone to raise money for any charity.  Just create a badge and place it on your site allowing visitors to donate directly to the charities your company sponsors and include a link in your newsletters or promotional emails.
  • Promote an event – Are your employees working on a Habitat house this weekend or putting together a Relay for Life team?  Make it easy for them to invite their friends and family or for people in the local community to join the team by posting the information on your blog, Facebook, or the Make the Difference Network.

Want more ideas on how you or your business can make a huge impact?  Check out Social Actions, a site that aggregates opportunities to make a difference from 24 sites dedicated to connecting people interested in changing the world.

Ignite Social Media