Category: Facebook

Unravelling Facebook Causes

I just had to sit down and untangle this Facebook “hairball” (one of many I might add) because, if it’s understood and used correctly, it can be great tool not only for you but for an organization that decides to support a cause.

So… here goes… 5 minutes to becoming an expert at Facebook causes.

First, a couple of facts.

From the point of view of the organization looking to raise money through causes, the Facebook application called “Causes” organizes itself into a hierarchy.

At the bottom of this hierarchy is the organization that receives the funds. They are called, in causes terms, the Beneficiary.

A Beneficiary must be a 501(c)3, non-profit organization that is registered with Guidestar and, as part of it’s profile, have enabled “on-line donations”.

This is required because a lot of the information that Causes obtains and passes on through Facebook is obtained from the Guidestar database.

The next step up the foodchain is the cause.

A cause can be created by anyone (including the owner of the Beneficiary). Causes are then “affiliated” or associated with a Beneficiary. This affiliation enables a Facebook user to join a cause or donate to a cause and enables the donations to flow through the cause to the Beneficiary.

From a Beneficiary point of view, this scheme enables one or more causes to be associated with a single beneficiary. For example, if I am part of a non-profit beneficiary called “Save The Forests”, I (or any other Facebook user) can start a cause that benefits Save The Forests. I can can start a cause called “Plant A Tree” so others can donate to that cause (and benefit Save The Forests). Other Facebook users who are interested in what Save The Forests does can also start a cause. For example, Joe (who I may have never met) can start a cause called “1000 Trees” that also benefits Save The Forests. The “social idea” here is that if Joe believes in the cause that he created, so will his friends on Facebook.

Creating causes in not some uncontrolled process. A key to the whole thing working is the concept of “affiliation”. In order for Joe’s cause to benefit my Beneficiary, Joe has to request that his cause become “affiliated” with my Beneficiary. If I approve the affiliation request, then all is well. If I don’t (perhaps because Joe’s cause doesn’t quite match my brand), I can reject the affiliation. This frees Joe to affiliate his cause with some other organization if he wants to.

So… if you are a beneficiary, here are a couple of rules to follow when using Facebook..

  1. First, make sure your organization is registered with Guidestar. Guidestar checks out the legitimacy of who you are an if you have all the proper paperwork and approvals filed. They get a lot of their information from the IRS who is the gatekeeper of al things 501(c)3
  2. Go to and register your organization as a beneficiary. This page is your interface with the company that writes and maintains the causes application on Facebook. Use this tool to make sure that your Beneficiary is well described and that the associated graphics represent who you are. Also make sure that you make yourself an administrator / owner of this beneficiary. The Facebook causes application pulls its information from the site.
  3. As a Facebook user, create at least one cause and affiliate it with your beneficiary. Make sure that you are the administrator of this cause and make sure that the description and images you associate with the cause reflects the purpose of the cause.
  4. As the owner of the beneficiary, approve the affiliate request that you sent to the cause.
  5. Change your profile so that this cause appears as your primary cause.
  6. Invite your friends to join the cause and send out information to members of this cause as you see fit.

That’s it!

Happy causing!

Everyone Wants To Catch A Virus

I was remided this morning about a marketing concept that has now reached far beyond the concept stage. The successes that we see when a well executed Viral marketing campaign is executed are nothing short of fascinating.

Briefly, if you are not familiar with the concept, Viral marketing takes a good idea and let’s other spread it around. All you have to do is to come up with the good idea (which is not all that easy) and have a way to spread the idea.

Viral marketing is based on a specific need that humans have to share something that amazes them, gives them a laugh or is simply fascinating.

For those of you who remember, one of the most successful and earliest “modern age” viral marketing campaigns was Wendy’s “Where’s The Beef” campaign. This campaign was responsible for making Clara famous and for injecting the phrase “Where’s The Beef” into our everyday speech.

People who saw the campaign just loved it and got a real kick about passing it on (performing it) for their friends. This campaign was in the days before Facebook and YouTube so it was passed on by person to person contact (just like all good viruses are!)

The power of viral marketing can’t be underestimated in political movements.  The last presidential campaign knew that. And so does a movement in India that is protesting their countries “moral police”.  As detailed on NPR this morning, the “Consortium of Pub-Going, Loose and Forward Women” unveiled a plan for a nonviolent gesture of defiance in protest against their country’s self-appointed “moral police .

The Consortium started a social networking group on Facebook (substituting for face to face contact) and rapidly grew to over 25,000 members who are sending their knickers to collection points to then be delivered to the leader of Sri Ram Sena in a nonviolent gesture of defiance. The movement grew and grew fast — just like a virus.  (Expect further growth now that NPR is on board.)

This movement not only is an example of viral marketing but it also illustrates that with today’s social networking tools, everybody (not just those who can afford it) can mobilize a group of people toward an idea.

One other example that is worth citing is here. I first read about it in a book called Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky.

It’s about a women who lost her cell phone in a New York City taxicab and how she not only got it back but was instrumental in having the 16-year old teenager who found it arrested. Briefly, after the boyfriend of the women who lost the phone identified who had it based on instant messages that were being sent, he created a web page detailing the story and how when he asked to have the phone returned, he was told “get lost”. The story on the web page moved a lot of people to respond with comments and help that eventually resulted in the phone being recovered.

Well, if you don’t get it by now, viral marketing is all about a good idea getting picked up and moved by a crowd.  I’m not sure if there is a specific formula for creating a “viral idea” but there is no doubt that it involves:

  • a current trend that evokes either sympathy or fulfills some need
  • a crowd
  • a method to disperse the idea quickly and effectively

I’m also sure that it requires a lot of “failed launches”. We never hear about all the ideas that didn’t get off the launching pad (they weren’t funny or didn’t resonate). We only hear about those that did.