Changing Corporations and Changing Communities

Posted by on Feb 3, 2011 in ComLead, Organizational Leadership

Corporations spend a lot of time and money donating to the communities in which they work and serve. The effort put forth by these companies serves two purposes: to help the community and increase brand awareness. This type of marketing is not as pervasive as television and radio advertising, but can generate similar buzz. In today’s global economy the communities affected by corporations are not restricted by geography or neighborhood, corporations must use community relations to touch a much greater audience.

According to Pepsi, the Refresh Project is all about increasing an authentic brand identity aligned with serving the community. The community is no longer limited to the neighborhoods where you live. The online community not only engages local communities, but entire states and nations. Pepsi, for example, is giving money to charitable causes that the online community votes for. The increments vary from $5 thousand to $50 thousand. Each winner receives funding to implement the project they proposed. Last year, the contest had more votes cast than the presidential election. Through motivating consumers to vote in the Pepsi Refresh project, Pepsi is increasing brand awareness and in the long run, sales.

What I find so interesting about the new community relations tactics is how much of it is now online. Whether it a chat room, blog or Facebook group, corporations are finding ways to create community amongst people all over the world. Is targeting an entire audience directly more effective than simply engaging in print and television advertising? How do you measure the return on investment? One interesting method is proposed by the B2C marketing insider is:

Engagement: 
First, measure engagement by keeping tabs on the number of followers and advocates you have reached from your social media marketing efforts.
Benefits: 
Measure the impact social media marketing has on the bottom line. Consider things such as:
• Generating incremental revenue with new prospects and existing customers.
• Driving product / operational savings and innovation with collaborative partners.
• Avoiding costs for other less effective, less efficient or redundant lead-generation programs.

Derived Value and ROI
: Compare the ratio of investments versus derived benefits to assure the social media efforts are generating enough value compared to other potential investments.

Return on investment is not cut and dry. As I explored the different ways to determine if social media was working, the only universal thing I found was that it is exploding with popularity, and used by seemingly everyone. To be successful corporations need to use social media in unique and situational ways, creating community connections that touch appropriate audiences and work towards corporate goals.

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