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RESEARCH BRIEF: Cause-related marketing is a brand’s best bet for Facebook visibility


Take Away: Both cause-related marketing and cause sponsorship attract social network users to brand pages. Cause-related marketing is more successful than cause sponsorship at attracting users and getting them to invite their friends to the brand page. 

Researchers investigated the effectiveness of cause-related marketing and cause sponsorship on social networking sites. Using real brands of bottled water (Aquafina for the functional brand and Fiji for the luxury brand) and a fictitious recycling charity, the researchers asked university students to react to brand pages on Facebook.

In the case of the cause-related marketing page, ‘liking,’ or joining, the page would result in the brand donating $1 to the recycling charity, with donations capped at $100,000. In the cause sponsorship scenario, the brand would donate a total of $100,000 to the charity regardless of how many people ‘liked’ the page. In both cases, ‘liking’ a page would display a statement on the student’s profile informing friends of the endorsement. 

As a control, the study included Facebook brand pages that made no mention of CSR-related causes.

Researchers found that the brand pages featuring cause-related marketing led to the greatest intentions to join the page and to invite friends to join, beating out both cause sponsorship pages and pages without CSR-related marketing. This held true for both the symbolic/luxury brand (Fiji) and the functional brand (Aquafina).

For the functional brand (Aquafina), cause sponsorship attracted more page ‘likes’ than a page without CSR-related marketing. For the luxury brand (Fiji), however, there was no discernable difference. In both cases, cause-related marketing was the most effective way to attract ‘likes’. 

The researchers found that a user’s decision to invite friends to join a page depended, in part, on the public impression they thought their invitation would make. The more favorable an impression they believed they would make, the more likely they were to invite others to join the brand page. Users felt sharing the cause-related marketing page would make the best impression.

Keywords: research, research brief, corporate social responsibility, cause-related marketing, cause marketing, cause sponsorship, social network sites, impression management

If citing, please refer to original article: Jeong, Hyun J., Hye-Jin Paek, and Mira Lee. "Corporate Social Responsibility Effects on Social Network Sites." Journal of Business Research 66 (2013): 1889-895.

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