Brands for the 'Social Good'

By Lauren Sleeper Consumer brands and social media go together, well, like peanut butter and jelly.  Likeable Media was built on just that notion.  Social networks allow brands to interact with their customers like never before, which oftentimes leads the average consumer down the path to becoming a true brand enthusiast.  Large brands are clearly recognizing the power of their social communities and are increasingly tapping into them to rally their customers for a social good.  Social good campaigns have the obvious benefit to the target recipient(s), and secondarily also raise awareness of and good will towards the brand itself.  Below are 4 brands that have really stepped up their game recently, and have been taking advantage (in a good way!) of their customer's strong brand affiliations' to achieve social good.

Restaurant.com: Feed It Forward*

Restaurant.com is launching their fourth annual Feed It Forward program today.  With the success of previous years’ programs, they have once again set aside a pool of $40 million worth of Gift Certificates, allowing every participant in the program to gift up to $16,000 each via 40 recipients per day.  Each "giver" can choose who to give to, and the gift recipients can decide where to dine from a list of more than 9,500 participating Restaurant.com restaurants nationwide. The giving process is actually quite simple – participants can either give through a dedicated  Feed It Forward site, or they can give directly through a Facebook application housed on their Facebook page.  The brand is also tapping into the blogging world, and launching a blogger program to help drive awareness and giving.

Founded by Restaurant.com CEO Cary Chessick, the ultimate goal behind this program is actually quite simple - to celebrate the gift of giving by not prohibiting those who want to give but just don't have the funds to do so.  When Feed It Forward began in 2008, Chessick wanted to do something to combat the negativity in the news driven in particular by the declining economy. Feed It Forward allows everyone to celebrate the holiday season with all of their loved ones by providing the opportunity for all Restaurant.com fans, new and old, to give to an incredible amount of people.  Starbucks: Let's Create Jobs for USA

Starbucks has teamed up with Opportunity Finance Network® to launch "Let's create jobs for USA."  When a Starbucks customer donates to OFN at one of their thousands of locations, 100% of the money will help create and sustain jobs in underserved communities.  This initiative has taken a key learning from other charitable movements and gives each person who donates a wristband as both a thank you gift, and to help spread awareness.   Starbucks Foundation also gave the first $5,000,000 to kick the program off.

Starbucks customers are nothing if not passionate about their brand.  The multi-billion dollar company has one of the largest Facebook communities (26 million and growing), and of course, they clearly have a tremendous amount of clout.  To rally their fans, Starbucks introduced the campaign on their massive social profiles, and encouraged fans to take the next step with them by following the story on the movement's websiteFacebook page, and  twitter profile.  The dedicated social profiles have become a sounding broad for questsions, an outlet to share updates on the jobs created, and of course a positive community for people who are dedicated to the cause.

Heinz: Our Turn to Serve

Heinz has partnered with the USO and Wounded Warrior Project™ for the "Our Turn to Serve" initiative.  The goal of the program is to both serve as an outlet for citizens to  express gratitude to those who have served in our military, and also to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project™.  There are two primary ways Heinz is allowing fans to participate - either by sending a  “Thank You” postcard to a veteran or active service member, or by “Liking” their Facebook fan page.  For every postcard sent and like received, Heinz is donating 57 cents (up to $200,000) to the Wounded Warrior Project™.

As America's favorite ketchup brand, Heinz has ammassed an incredible following of almost a million fans on Facebook.  They are constantly creating innovate social campaigns that allow their fans to interact with the brand and really feel like they are part of a valued community.  "Our Turn to Serve" is being promoted on their Facebook page with a custom tab that introduces the initiative, and then links out to the postcard creation site.  Each participant is able to customize their message, and select who the thank you will ultimately be sent to.   The customization of the program allows each person to feel personally vested, which is a huge win for the overall success of the campaign.

Chase: Community Giving Chase is giving 100 small charities over $3 million in grants through 'Chase Community Giving.'  An entirely social campaign, Chase has housed their giving initiative in a Facebook application that allows participants to: search for their favorite charities, select ten to vote for, spread the word to friends and family with social share buttons, and truly help make a difference in their community all via Facebook.

Chase created a dedicated Facebook page for their giving initiative, which allows a community to be formed around a banking brand that may not otherwise generate a sense connectedness/willingness to share.  The set giving period lends urgency to the program, and increased sharing by participants; to help your favorite charities be chosen, participants need to encourage as many votes as possible via their own friends and followers on social networks.  As with the Heinz program, allowing fans to choose the recipients provides personal involvement and of course drive to see your charity chosen.

What other stellar social good campaigns have you seen from big brands?  Further, what brands do you think should create a social good program that have yet to do so? Share with us in the comments! 

 

*Restaurant.com is a Likeable Media client.