New cause-driven social network, Karma411, could be excellent marketing tool for corporations, development channel for nonprofit organizations

A friend of mine, John Murcott (I went to business school with his wife, Gretchen), recently launched Karma411, with his former partner at FatWire Software, Mark Fasciano.

Karma411 describes itself as a “cause-driven social collaboration site.” The two principal purposes of the site are to serve as a social network for socially-minded people and to allow its members to “start a campaign to raise money and awareness” for their “favorite cause or nonprofit.”

Although Karma411 is in its infancy, I believe marketing professionals at nonprofit organizations and companies should be aware of this site for several reasons:

  1. For nonprofits, the network could be a new channel through which they can raise money. One of the main services of Karma411 is campaign management, and nonprofits can even set up microsites within the network to accept donations
  2. For nonprofits, Karma411 may be a great source of volunteers for their organizations. The site asks its members to highlight some causes/organizations that are important to them. If I were a development director, I would look for members who have stated that they care about my cause, and then would have someone from my organization contact that member. Quite often, people may care about the work that a group does, but have never been asked to get involved, and do not know how to do so. The right email to these people may make a huge difference.
  3. For corporations, Karma411 could be a great marketing tool. Much has been written about how socially-conscious consumers often earn more than the median salary in this country and are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that are seen as good corporate citizens. Members of Karma411 will be a valuable source of potential customers for these types of companies, and once there is a critical mass of members, advertising and promoting through this site could be a cost-effective way to reach this group
  4. For both nonprofits and corporations, Karma411 can be an excellent research tool. The site easily allows a member to create a poll, a function that should help organizations gather important data about potential customers/donors/volunteers, etc.

Some pundits might claim that niche social networking sites cannot compete with behemoths like Facebook and myspace. However, smaller, more targeted sites have started to demonstrate excellent success as well, especially as focused advertising destinations. Here’s an excellent article from the Washington Post about this trend. As a focused site, once Karma411 signs up enough users, it should then be able to attract advertisers, who will want to gain access to this small, but likely higher-than-average spending group.

Regardless of the benefit to advertisers, I’m excited to see Karma411 launch, and as a site focused on helping its members improve the world, I wish it and its founders every success. I recently became a member and encourage others to do the same!