One of the big themes coming out of SXSW this year is cause marketing in social media, or better said "social media with a purpose." It's not a new concept, but one that has been growing with participation. Many a brand is using social media to further it's cause marketing efforts, and many a follower is switching loyalties to those brands that give back ... it's all the buzz in Austin this week.
But it gets even bigger than that, I'm afraid. We are witnessing, live and in 3D, just what social media can do to help people in need. Or in this case, help people out of danger.
I'm talking of course about the movement to capture the Uganda war criminal Joseph Kony, who's alleged crimes against families and children are hard to bear.
What started out as a 30-minute YouTube video along with a hashtag #stopkony, has now turned into a bona fide social movement. Celebrities have even kicked in, adding even more influence, to try to raise attention and get Kony captured. It's politics meets crime meets war meets social media, proving the power of the people when they have a vehicle to rally supporters. The video hits, page views, signed pledges, and Twitter followers are all completely unprecedented, once again setting new benchmarks in social media. It seems like every month we have a new benchmark in social media.
As anything that captures this much attention, there is certainly more than its fair share of controversy, but I'm not prepared to comment on that. What I do find interesting is the multiple uses of social media, and how brand marketing (as exhibited at SXSW) can and does mimic the movement behind political issues as well. Our heightened awareness of helping others in need has affected the causes we support and the brands we follow.
At least we are talking about this on social media instead of Kim Kardashian's wedding.
What's your experience?
President, North America at Cohn & Wolfe
Author of The Experience Effect series
Professor at NYU