10 ways brands are using social media marketing for good

Using social platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to promote philanthropic content is an effective way to engage consumers and humanize your brand.

Asking questions, running contests, sharing pictures, promoting products and services; there are many ways for brands to attract attention on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like. Included among this list of ways to get people to sit up and take notice on social media is to show the softer side of your brand and declare your support of a worthy charitable organization.

After all, almost everyone on these channels is trying to sell something, whether it’s a product, service, or simply themselves. Almost everyone is like the carnival barker cajoling the passersby to step right up and come inside the tent.

But a small percentage of them are associating their brands with a noble cause, giving those in the audience a reason to feel good about making the decision to follow, like, share, reply, or click.

The truth is, not everyone on social media is there as a consumer. If you appeal to those people’s philanthropic self-interests, meeting their need to help make a difference in the world, they may be more likely to engage with your account and ultimately respond to your pitch.

Call it cause marketing, fundraising, or strategically placed altruism; whatever you call it, it’s good for the nonprofit world, your audience, and you. It’s good for everybody involved.

Here are 10 ways brands are doing well by doing good on social media:

1. Feeding the hungry: Anheuser-Busch on Twitter

You may associate Anheuser-Busch with drinking, but this is an example of the brand tying itself to eating, providing meals to those less fortunate during the holiday season.

Crowdsourcing pictures of Thanksgiving celebrations, Anheuser-Busch makes it easy for its customers and followers to participate in a kindhearted group initiative and have fun at the same time.

2. Putting shoes on their feet: TOMS on Twitter

TOMS puts their money where their feet are by making an impressive commitment to give a pair of shoes to someone in need for each pair sold. In fact, thanks to its generous “One for One” offer since the company’s founding in 2006, TOMS has given more than 45 million pairs of shoes to children in over 70 different countries.

3. Standing up against bullying: Detroit Pistons on Facebook

Taking a stand and making a strong statement against an injustice can be more effective than simply making a charitable contribution, which is exactly what this NBA basketball team does here.


Asking their fans to take the pledge and join them in going purple on #SpiritDay, they’re scoring big points in the cause marketing field, never mind on the basketball court.

4. Delivering presents for Christmas: Sports Authority on Twitter

The holiday season is an especially good opportunity to give to the less fortunate among us. Here, the large chain of sporting goods retailers, Sports Authority, shows how they teamed up with the Universal Surveillance Systems Foundation to arrange for Santa to surprise 100 deserving kids with bikes and helmets.

5. Caring for children: Kohl’s on Twitter

There are a variety of reasons why people buy, most of which are wrapped up in emotion. Consumers may not necessarily need this or that, but in many cases their impulses get the best of them. Whether they’re being materialistic or benevolent, Kohl’s Cares gifts are a win-win proposition for those who have the urge to purchase a little something and make a big difference at the same time.

6. Protecting our oceans: Dell on Instagram

Taking full advantage of its technological prowess, specifically in the area of virtual reality. Dell is doing a whale of a job in helping to inspire people to care more about the health of our oceans and marine wildlife through its support of actor Adrian Grenier’s the Lonely Whale Foundation.

While they’re talking about it on Instagram here, you can learn a lot more about it on YouTube:

7. Showing solidarity with Paris: Cisco on Facebook

Part of the responsibility of using social media – especially as a brand, for whom the bar is set higher – is to be aware of what’s going on in the world. The last thing you want to do is be promotional and pushy in the midst of a tragedy or any other cataclysmic event.


Don’t hesitate to pause your regular flow of content and join the broader conversation with a message of support – like Cisco’s on Facebook.

8. Volunteering their time: Eli Lilly and Company on Instagram

Last fall, thousands of Lilly employees took part in this global pharmaceutical company’s eight annual Global Day of Service, proudly sharing their good deeds on social media with the tag, #WeAreLilly.

Soon we'll nearly go off the grid, donning gloves, goggles and smiles to help the world around us. #WeAreLilly #volunteer

A photo posted by Eli Lilly and Company (@elilillyco) on

Clearly, there are countless beneficiaries of such a massive demonstration of volunteerism, including the brand itself whose initiative goes a long way toward building camaraderie and unity among its workforce.

9. Responding to emergencies: Lowe’s on Twitter

After the area was hit by a devastating wave of violent tornadoes, members of Lowe’s Heroes, a volunteer program involving store employees, joined first responders to provide emergency relief.

Coming through for the local community in such a meaningful way not only makes your team members feel good about themselves, it sends a strong, positive message about your corporate culture to anyone who’s paying attention.

10. Helping kids with cancer: Sevenly on Facebook

Founded less than five years ago, Sevenly is a hip, philanthropic online retailer that donates a portion of its revenue to a number of different causes, in this case The Young and Brave Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young people fight cancer.

cargill sevenly

Although I’m not a customer (yet) nor am I a fashionista, I love their unique business model. Given the idea that you can help others with your purchase makes their clothes even more appealing to me.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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