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Why Compassion Makes Good Business Sense

Posted by | 10:29am on Sunday, April 18, 2010

It is human nature to enjoy helping others. 

Before you venture into social media, it’s a good idea to think about who will share your message. But more important, why would they want to share it?

Social media offers a powerful platform for spreading messages, but your strategy will only be successful if it’s aligned with the needs of your audience.

“It’s not about you,” is a slogan that could have been expressly written for social media.

One way to show your compassion is by supporting a cause your audience finds meaningful. Consider this example from Brandweek. Colgate created a Facebook application called Smiles that was shared by just a few hundred people over a period of months. But when the brand began offering a charitable donation, the widget was shared 500,000 times in five weeks.

A 2007 Cone Cause Evolution Survey found that 92% of consumers have a more positive image of a company that supports a cause they care about and 87% are likely to switch from one product to another (price and quality being equal) if the other product is associated with a good cause, an increase from 66% in 1993.

You Can’t Buy Loyalty
Of course, you can’t buy loyalty with contributions. It’s important to care about the cause and it’s even more important to care about the individuals behind the statistics. If you’re not living your compassion and ethics in your business, that message will come through and be shared, too.

Advertising Age reported on a Context Marketing study which found that 8 out of 10 consumers give greater trust and loyalty to brands they see operating in a virtuous manner. The opposite is also true, because 48% of consumers reported that they stopped purchasing a brand when they saw a company acting in a socially irresponsible or unethical way. Overall 70% of consumers said that whether or not a company behaves ethically influences their decision to purchase.

The Proof is in the Numbers
The best – and most authentic – partnerships are between people and organizations that share common goals, who recognize that working together for the good of all is in their best interests.

An example of how this philosophy translates into action is the partnership between the National Coalition for Women’s Heart Health and Bayer. The two organizations joined forces to create a highly successful Facebook fan page that featured an assessment tool, video stories, questions to ask your doctor, and a place to post stories. A fitness instructor, who was 39 when she discovered she had almost no blood flow to the left side of her heart, contributed her own story, as well as the idea for a HeartSAFE carrying case to take aspirin along. The result: a quarter of a million direct hits, 13,000 fans in four weeks, and 65,000 requests for the HeartSAFE container. Watch a video of the case study being presented at the e-Patient Connections Seminar in 2009.

It is human nature to enjoy helping others. But what’s more, it’s in our own best interests. Millions of years of evolution have contributed to the development of empathy in our own and other species.

Here’s a radical idea for you. Maybe it isn’t greed, self interest, competition, and self promotion that make the world go round. Maybe it’s compassion.

This post was contributed by Pamela Todd, Content Strategist at Siren Interactive.

(Image courtesy of AdamArthur on Flickr)

About Pamela Todd

Pam’s extensive work in online intelligence, competitive analysis and audits allows her to provide clients with insights into their audiences’ needs and preferences. She puts those insights to work in creating and implementing user-centric, interactive content strategies to reach targeted patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.

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