In this new era of heightened “social responsibility,” consumers care about more than just the latest trends and hottest new products. They’re also concerned with social and environmental issues, and many globally conscious consumers are flocking to companies that take steps to make the world a better place.
In fact, a recent study found that 87 percent of consumers will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about and 76 percent will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.
Over recent months, it’s become clear that businesses will be playing a more defining role in addressing hot-button environmental issues like climate change, energy, waste, water, food, and wildlife conservation.
So what happens when social media and sustainability collide, and how can you leverage these platforms to tell your brand’s story and convert critics? Let’s take a look…
Take a Stand
It’s part of human nature: We want to feel like we’re contributing to something bigger than ourselves. This is where cause-based marketing comes in. Give consumers a reason to support your brand over competitors by taking a stand on a particular environmental issue that you’re either passionate about or is relevant to your industry.
Talk Where People Are Listening
It’s the age-old question: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? As with any effective marketing campaign, it’s vital that you tell your brand’s story where people are listening.
For example, Facebook is considered the melting pot of social media platforms, with active users ranging from 18-65 years old and spanning a variety of cultural and economic demographics. Twitter is the go-to source for news-related content, and Instagram and Snapchat are the places to be if millennials are your target audience.
Join the Conversation
Chiming in on trending social media news and events is an easy way to get your story out and position yourself as a thought leader on a particular environmental issue.
Regardless of your opinion about national politics, a recent and relevant example of this was the June 1 announcement of the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Upon hearing the news, industry leaders across the country took to social media to reassure supporters about their continued commitment to fighting climate change.
— The North Face (@thenorthface) June 1, 2017
New Belgium has always supported the Paris Climate Agreement, and we will continue to do so. It’s time for mayors, governors, academic leaders, businesses, investors and individuals across the country to come together to make sure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions. #parisclimateagreement
— Shell Oil Company (@Shell_US) June 1, 2017
Build a Community
What do social media and sustainability have in common? They both rely on community. Leverage your social media platforms as outlets to inform, educate, and connect with consumers about what you’re doing to help the environment.
This community of advocates will help spread the word about your sustainability initiatives and build your supporter base, which in turn will help you achieve your business goals and objectives.
As with any politically charged issue, there will always be critics. Criticism often arises out of a lack of easily accessible, accurate information. With so many news sites and blogs available at the click of a button, it’s easy for misinformation and false claims to spread like wildfire.
It’s up to you to clear the air on your brand’s commitment to sustainability, and social media is an effective tool for doing so.
There’s always room for improvement, and sometimes your biggest critics may actually shed some light on a problem that needs to be addressed. By listening to what people are saying about you online, you can pinpoint loopholes in your messaging or strategy and take steps to provide consumers with accurate information.
In the world of social media, transparency is key. Show consumers and critics you have nothing to hide. Lay it all on the line and address questions or concerns promptly. This will help you build trust with skeptics and may even convert them into your biggest advocates.