Tweets, tweets everywhere and not a single one to drink. Or can you?
In the example image above I’ve granted ongoing permission to Water.org to use my personal twitter feed (@KatieMcCaskey) to deliver messages about the lifesaving importance of safe water and sanitation. (Scary reason why: 2.5 times more people lack access to clean water than live in the United States.) As Water.org urged me during sign-up, “Donate your voice to help spread the word about the crisis and we’ll post news and stories for you automatically.” It cost me nothing in time or money. How’s that for effortless activism?
Charitable tweeting is not new. Four years ago, startup Givey.com started building a platform that allows users to tweet financial donations, via PayPal, to their favorite charities. This seemed like the natural evolution of the smartphone-based “text ‘support’ to 70000” trend of fundraising and awareness. Less-known JustCoz.com provides the platform for other nonprofits to follow Water.org‘s lead harnessing supporters’ social streams to preach (your flavor of) gospel.
Donate Brand Voice and Reach, Not Cash
We all know people with a Facebook account and a proclivity for political ranting. Those friends are happy to “donate” their point of view! But can their social media updates change your mind?
Some fascinating psychological things start to happen when you lend your social credibility to a charitable, political, or social cause — err — brand. For better or worse, humans tend to merge who and what they support with their perceived sense of self. Stated simply: You can’t change anyone’s mind. You can only provide information and hope they come to their own conclusions. Any change of perspective must be felt to be their own if it has any hope of survival.
This relates to brand journalism.
Author Rob Walker refers to today’s marketing landscape as “murketing.” The Amazon.com description of his book, Buying In: What We Buy and Who We Are, describes it as the murky space “in which people create brands of their own and participate, in unprecedented ways, in marketing campaigns for their favorites.” The book explores the active role today’s consumers play infusing a brand with meaning.
A Pretty Good Problem
Walker’s book begins by describing the “pretty good problem” consumers face today: Choice. A large chunk of consumer goods and services can be classified as “pretty good.” All things being relatively equal, how does a customer choose one brand over another? It comes back to that sense of self.
Chipotle dealt with this brilliantly with their recent online TV series, Farmed and Dangerous. The overt marketing messages are low-key, but their product positioning in contrast to factory farming allows me, the viewer, to simultaneously share my values and their brand messaging when I declare myself a “fan.” Excellent brand journalism delivers more than just product information or industry news. From a purely self-serving, brand-centric, marketing perspective: Excellent brand journalism also allows customers to share — and reinforce — a bit of their personal identity. What could be stronger than that?
Katie McCaskey is SixEstate's content director. She tests real-world application of content marketing techniques using the cafe she co-owns as a laboratory. She was Tech Editor of Chief Content Officer, 2010-2011, and contributes to the Content Marketing Institute. Connect with her on Google+ or @KatieMcCaskey.