Influencer marketing has seen rapid expansion in the last few years. It began as a marketing experiment when brands partnered with the biggest social media stars to promote their brands and products, but now it’s a full-fledged industry that’s worth over $1 billion on Instagram alone. The world’s largest and most intrepid brands are using influencer marketing and partnering with major charities to associate themselves with good causes.
With 87% of customers willing to switch from one brand to another based solely on association with a good cause, social and environmental responsibility is a priority for consumers. Marketing and advertising efforts are more effective when brands partner with causes, too — 95% of respondents in a survey of college students said that they were less likely to skip a brand’s ad if it was promoting a partnership with a cause.
Cause marketing with influencers can help brands reach audiences in a personal way by using a powerful message. From incentivizing posts to spreading positive messaging, cause marketing can help brands rise above the noise and leave consumers with a lasting impression. These top examples of cause marketing can help brands and marketers add another layer of impact to their next campaign.
Popular fundraising campaign event Red Nose Day is part of Comic Relief UK and is aimed at eliminating childhood poverty. Red Nose Day partnered with M&M’s to execute a large influencer marketing campaign with celebrities and YouTubers. M&M’s donated $750,000 to Red Nose Day, then committed to another dollar (up to $250,000) every time a fan made someone laugh and posted it to social media with the hashtag #MakeMLaugh.
Red Nose Day and M&M’s collaborated with influencers and celebrities like Jack Baran and Olivia Wilde to spread the word about the campaign. Red Nose Day is a very recognizable campaign and by giving fans and users the ability to affect change through a financial contribution with a post, M&M’s saw massive reach and engagement, totaling 269.7 million social media impressions and 2.9 million engagements on content.
Boxed Water took post incentives in a different direction with its ReTree Project. With a goal to plant one million trees in the next five years, the ReTree Project plants two trees each time someone shares a photo of Boxed Water on Instagram with #ReTree. Boxed Water partnered with large influencers like Aiden Alexander, but smaller influencers like Bethany Small and Kirsten Rickert of @magnesium_blue have been involved, too.
Boxed Water’s initiative is unique in that it’s ongoing. Fans have had a chance to get involved in the campaign beyond a single campaign that would normally only span a short period of time. Like M&M’s campaign, it also benefits from earned media and the organic spread of brand awareness and positive messaging through a wide variety of social channels. As people with followings big and small post photos of Boxed Water in the name of planting trees, they’re helping the planet and helping a brand reach new audiences at the same time.
During the Oscars, Stella Artois launched a large influencer marketing campaign called “Buy A Lady A Drink” to take advantage of excitement surrounding the event. Partnering with former Miss USA Olivia Culpo and Marchesa Fashion, Stella Artois promoted Water.org with the help of six major fashion influencers with a combined total of 3.1 million followers.
Stella Artois sold limited edition chalices for $13 that were inspired by Culpo’s water-inspired Marchesa dress for the Oscars, with each sale going toward furthering water.org’s mission of providing five years of clean water to a person in need. Using the hashtag #1Chalice5years, influencers posted photos of the chalice and explained the mission behind water.org. In one week, Stella Artois’s campaign saw about 9 million impressions on a total of 20 sponsored posts. The company drove sales of the chalice and spread awareness for water.org by finding a way to tie the coverage and attention on Oscars fashion to Stella Artois and a good cause.
Walmart is known for its charitable contributions, and in 2017, it partnered with seven major influencers to spread the word. With its “Fight Hunger. Spark Change.” campaign, Walmart committed to donating $0.09 to Feeding America — a network of food banks seeking to fight hunger — for every like, share or comment on the influencers’ Instagram posts. Walmart donated an initial $1.5 million to Feeding America and capped additional donations at $1.5 million.
Teaming up with influencers like Logan Paul, Rosanna Pansino, and Sydney Leroux Dwyer, Walmart donated a total of $3 million to the organization. The campaign’s reach and engagement was massive, generating millions of likes and hundreds of thousands of comments. Logan Paul’s post garnered over one million likes on its own, and Walmart’s top influencer partners had a total combined following of nearly 30 million users. Like the Boxed Water ReTree Project and Red Nose Day campaign with M&M’s, Walmart’s campaign encouraged engagement and action, but with a smaller commitment. Simply liking, commenting, and sharing resulted in direct action. Moreover, there wasn’t a content creation requirement from audiences. Walmart got millions of people involved in the effort, and that translated to an incredible amount of exposure focused on its brand and charitable giving.