A new study from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism revealed that social media sites were the real winners among 18-24 year olds during the latest UK Election. A survey showed "extremely high" levels of activity online with 94% using Facebook during the election campaign and 1 in 4 using other social media. The study also cites a second nationwide survey in the UK that showed a quarter of 18-24 year olds commented on social networks related to the election and 81% expressed an interest online in a campaign (which I presume means they liked it). According to the study, this is due to the fact that the majority of 18-24 year olds, "receive most of their political information online and rarely read a printed newspaper or listened to radio for information."
Clearly, politicians in the UK have gotten the message, especially where Twitter is concerned. 600 MP candidates were using Twitter during the election, and 200 members of the newly minted parliament spend time tweeting to their constituents. Despite our vague spelling differences and dislike of Marmite, I believe these results can be accurately applied to the United States and shouldn’t be ignored by either politicians or brands attempting to align their adverting with any social cause.
An excellent example of successful social media cause marketing comes from TOMS Shoes: the brand that gives one pair of shoes away for every pair purchased. TOMS uses social media to get the word out about their yearly One Day Without Shoes event. The event raises awareness about how difficult it is to live without shoes, but it also sells the TOMS brand. Wired has the scoop on how they’ve been using social media to grow the event from 16,000 people in 2008 to 250,000 people in 2010 thanks to scads of digitally organized local events around the world and the help of MSN. In other words, just as political action is much more than voting, cause marketing can also be much more than clicking the like button.