Get Social and Give Back!

By Charissa Plummer

Social Media has an exceptional influence on the way people live and work in today’s world. Richard McPherson, chief innovator of Next Generation Fundraising states that “no one can afford not to” use social media. Social media is not only transforming the way we live and work but also the way we give back. Charitable organizations have established ingenious ways to use social media easily to further their causes. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?

Community banks can also tap into these trends.

Whether it’s donating time, goods, or funds to charitable organizations, banks usually have a plan of action to help support causes that affect their communities. Social media has made that task much more achievable. Using social media to further philanthropic causes has proven to be incredibly effective, and serves the added purpose of also boosting social media fan bases. There are many different ways to use social media to help further altruistic goals and business goals in tandem.

To start, you just need a plan that outlines what you’re able to give (in terms of money) and what you are hoping to achieve as a business and community member. It’s important to keep in mind that raising awareness for causes within your surrounding communities is just as important as any monetary donation that you give.

What might that look like?

Melrose Cooperative Bank ($262 million), a one-branch community bank in Melrose, Massachusetts, has been using social media to leverage its community focused initiatives for the last few years. Annual social media campaigns have helped the bank achieve its philanthropic goals, while also building connections within the community.

Each year the “Dollars for Charity” campaign kicks off the day after Thanksgiving. What better time to impress upon the community a give-back mentality than during the holiday season? Although the guidelines and rules for the campaign have been adjusted slightly each year, the central idea stays the same.

This year, Melrose Bank chose five charitable organizations to support. The bank committed to donating $5 for each new Facebook page like, with a maximum donation of $1,000, which would then be equally distributed among the five organizations. The goal was to acquire 200 new page likes throughout the course of the campaign. They also added a voting aspect, calling on their fans (people who liked the bank page) to vote for one of the five organizations. The organization that received the most votes posted to the Melrose Bank Facebook page would also receive a bonus donation of $250.

The campaign was so successful that the bank’s initial goal was exceeded. Through the campaign, the bank acquired 306 new page likes, while also increasing engagement by 15% during the initiative. To thank Facebook fans for their support, Melrose Bank chose to donate an additional $50 to each organization. In the end, four of the five organizations ended up receiving a total donation of $250, and the organization that received the most votes received a total donation of $500.

Some financial institutions may be skeptical of an incentive-driven fundraiser. However, Melrose Bank’s goal wasn’t just building its fan base. They were raising awareness and showing support for the important organizations within their community, as well as building a lasting connection and relationships with their Facebook fans. And while this campaign could be considered a fundraiser, the bank was not asking for monetary donations from its fans—just their virtual participation. Banks have the tools necessary to be the superheroes of their communities. Through this campaign Melrose Bank was able to provide financial support to five local organizations, engage the community, and make a lasting impact.

“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission—to make the world more open and connected.”-Mark Zuckerberg, CEO & co-founder of Facebook

Melrose Bank’s vice president, Jim Oosterman, couldn’t have been more pleased with the results of this campaign and the community engagement it empowered. Oosterman stated, “We continue to be amazed at the response from our local community and how they willingly share our campaigns using social media. Our Facebook fans have supported us throughout multiple runs of this campaign in the last few years. Due to their continued support we are able to build on prior success and cultivate an audience that will follow us in campaigns to come.”

It’s important to remember that these social media initiatives do take a bit of practice and finessing over time, as social media platforms continue to evolve. Facebook analytic tools as well as advertising rules continue to adapt, and staying current makes running a successful social media campaign more achievable than ever.

There are many ways you can use social media to cultivate audiences that will not only support your business but the community causes that your business supports. Even if your business is unable to build and implement a campaign right now, there is no reason why you can’t use your business’ social platforms to raise awareness for the challenges that face your communities. It’s as simple as publishing a weekly or monthly organic post. By doing something so simple, not only will you have helped raise awareness for local causes, but you will build long-lasting relationships with your community. And those relationships will translate to your business’ day-to-day success.

Charissa Plummer is a digital account executive at Pannos Marketing based in Bedford, NH. Pannos Marketing is an award-winning, full-service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions. Email: [email protected]. LinkedIn.