Historically, brands have avoided getting involved in controversial subjects. Politics, religion, sex, and even social issues were avoided at all costs. But that’s changing. Subjects that would have been taboo ten years ago, have been embraced as a way for brands to form meaningful connections with like-minded consumers. Although two-thirds of consumers agree that it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social and political issues, marketers must be careful to engage only on those topics that feel organic and authentic. In other words, don’t take a position just to have one; smart marketers choose when to engage and have a strategy for addressing the issues they feel strongly about. Here are six things to consider before taking a stance on social issues.
Why Should I Care?
This is the most important question marketers should ask before addressing any controversial issue. Consider how relevant the topic is to your consumer and how it impacts them or how the issue directly reflects your business practices. Without this link, your audience may find your position inauthentic or irrelevant.
When it comes to the causes that are most important, consumers care most about other people. Researchers found that consumers want brands to take a stand on human rights (58%), fair labor laws (55%), issues related to poverty (48%), and gender equality (48%). Environmental causes and education are also important, but only if it relates directly to the brands products or services.
If you’re going to have the conversation, fifty-eight percent of consumers agree it should happen on social media. Brands are already engaging with consumers on social platforms, so it makes sense that these conversations should originate there, rather than on other media.
What Brands Do Is as Important as What Brands Say
Although sharing a brand’s position on social can be impactful, consumers expect brands to walk-the-walk. Announcing a monetary donation, encouraging followers to take action, lobbying for supportive legislation, and sharing examples of actions that support the brand’s position are among the most effective and authentic ways to demonstrate your commitment to a cause.
Enough is Enough
Even when brands support causes they care about, consumers do have a saturation point. Sixty-three percent of consumers say that brands should keep social and political posts to about 1-5% of their social content.
Risk vs. Reward
While brands aren’t likely to change consumers’ minds about a social issue or shift their political position, many consumers have a positive reaction to brands taking a stand: 27% are intrigued, 24% are impressed, 23% feel more engaged, and 21% are inspired. Even among the 17% of consumers who say they boycotted a brand after it voiced an opposing opinion on social, a quarter went on to purchase from the brand again. Further, 50% of consumers will like a post that demonstrates a social action they agree with and a quarter of consumers began following a brand because of their social or political stance.
While it’s important to be careful about approaching hot-button issues, it’s becoming essential for brands to have an identity and advocate for relevant social causes. Women’s Marketing helps people discover brands they will love and helps brands find the people who will love them. Contact us to learn more about our marketing strategy services and discover how we can help you amplify your message.
Sources: Sprout Social #BrandsGetReal Championing Change in the Age of Social Media; Retail Dive Is Activist Advertising the New Frontier?, Mintel Got Ethics?