Increasingly, consumers want to do business with brands who make a difference in the world. And big brands are taking notice. You might have already seen this trend as more and more brands are sharing their views on social justice issues, starting foundations or committing to being more environmentally friendly. Not only is this a good thing to do for society, but it’s largely being driven by consumer demand. A 2021 SurveyMonkey study found that 55% of respondents said that they were much more likely to choose companies whose values aligned with their own.
Savvy marketers see this as an opportunity as well. Hubspot recently found that 89% of marketers plan to invest in social responsibility content in 2023, which is almost double from the previous year.
Is your brand promoting social responsibility? We’re going to break down what social responsibility marketing is and how you can put it in practice for yourself.
What is social responsibility marketing?
Social responsibility marketing is an approach to retaining current customers attracting new ones based on the causes that your brand supports. This involves sharing your stance on social issues, promoting corporate responsibility, being sustainable, or otherwise sharing how your company is giving back. Essentially, it’s letting consumers know that your brand is working in some way to improve society.
How to start social responsibility marketing?
The biggest piece of advice we can give when starting to promote how your brand engages in social responsibility is to be authentic. If you bring up a cause, make sure it is truly a part of your brand’s mission and something that you are committed to for the long haul. A failure to post authentically is easily spotted by consumers and can negatively affect opinions of your brand. For example, if you share a post about LGBTQ+ issues during Pride month, but don’t follow up for the rest of the year, your brand might look like a bandwagon supporter and seem inauthentic.
Know your audience
You know your customers and your audience. If you’re looking for a new cause to support, choose one that will resonate with them. Do you run a pet food brand? Show your support for animal shelters and animal rights causes. If you’re a healthcare company, share your population health initiatives and how you’re helping the community. Choosing the right message to share with your specific audience will help lend authenticity to your marketing content and elicit the response you’re looking for.
Involve your community
Generate more buzz for your social advocacy by encouraging your community to get involved as well. You could match their donations to a charity, invite followers to volunteer alongside your employees or enact eco-friendly changes alongside your brand.
Greenwashing, specifically, is a term for when a company says that they will commit to green initiatives or are working to be more sustainable, but then the claim is found to be untrue. Obviously, this is something you want to avoid. When your company makes a public commitment to a cause, it needs to be acted upon in a meaningful way. Don’t pay lip service to social responsibility. This can even go as far as being careful to vet your charitable donations or thinking through the implications of your actions.
For example, Toms, a shoe company with a “one-for-one” business model of donating a pair of shoes for each pair sold, has faced criticism of their materialistic approach to ending poverty, with some critics claiming the company is “dumping” shoes on children who don’t necessarily need them. The company has responded by opening factories in developing nations to try to address poverty by stimulating local economies, and not solely with material donations.
This is a part that can feel a little awkward, but if you already have a social responsibility plan in place—whether that’s sharing your amazing work culture to implementing a give-back component to your sales—or are developing a strategic framework for one, you need to share about it. Consumers are actively looking for companies doing good to support, and they won’t know about what you’re doing unless you tell them. Sometimes a brand’s social responsibility seems obvious to those within the company, but it might not be to those on the outside, so we recommend erring on the side of sharing more than you might think you need to. Share your company’s pledge to make an impact on your website, social profiles, blog and other owned media channels.
If your company is truly committed to social responsibility and the causes they’re championing, your message should resonate with consumers. Then not only will you be doing good in the world, but you will likely attract like-minded consumers to your business. A real win-win.
Feel like you need more guidance? B&Y can be your agency partner to help you develop a strategic marketing framework for sharing your company’s social values. Let’s have a conversation!