While putting your brand on Facebook as a the Social Media representative for your organization is popular, another strategy is gaining ground. Using Facebook as a corporate social responsibility platform. That is, identifying a need (whether it be in the local community or on a global scale), and using Facebook as the platform to address that need.
How ethical is this?
You are using other peoples misfortunes to sell your product. Is that justifiable? As long as you are actually addressing the need earnestly and honestly, then yes. I have been involved in several campaigns that left a bad taste in my mouth. They were nothing but PR exercises where the community in need gained nothing. This was several years ago and it may have worked then, but society has grown savvy rather quickly and attempting this today will either fail or turn into a PR nightmare. Make sure that the spotlight is on the needs of the community and that the brand takes second place. This may not guarantee a successful campaign, but at least needs will have been addressed in the process, and people will remember that.
How long can a campaign like this last? Indefinitely. There are many people in need. If you’ve successfully managed to address a need (eg. a blanket drive), there is nothing wrong with shifting focus to another need.
How do I know if I should be doing this?
This really depends on your goals and budget. If you just want to create brand awareness and you’re on a limited budget, then this might not be for you. If you have a budget (in other words, enough money to actually make a difference), and you want to create more talkability, then approach may be for you. I think this approach should work for all brands, but I personally would like to see this play out in the finance space. I believe that brands that are perceived as dull could get far more mileage out of this.
If you’re ready to change the world, you will find a community of people, both online and off, ready to stand behind you.