3 Tips for Creating a Stellar Social Responsibility Campaign

As brands seek to appeal to my generation—millennials—I find myself face-to-face with words like social impact, social good, or corporate social responsibility more often. And I admit: these terms do, in fact, sway my everyday choices as a consumer. Should I pay more for a leather purse that was carefully crafted in a fair-trade factory in Mexico or a much cheaper lookalike from a mass production brand here in the States? Should I shop at the cheap grocery store down the block or splurge a little at Whole Foods knowing that they support microfinance in developing countries through their Whole Planet Foundation?

According to Cone Communications, “Millennials represent $2.45 trillion in spending power and are 60% more likely to engage with brands that discuss social causes.” So knowing that the number of companies with a social responsibility focus continues to grow and knowing that millennials care (a lot), how can brands utilize social media as a way to engage with millennials about the social causes they’ve invested in? Let’s look at a few different brands’ strategies and what we can learn from them.

Tip #1: Create relevant campaigns that drive engagement for good

Occasionally, brands create campaigns and support organizations that do not align with the services or products they provide. This can come across as inauthentic—social responsibility should not be treated as a "trend" for a brand to jump on. Let’s examine a couple of brands who created campaigns around social responsibility that drove engagement on their social channels while also aligning with who they are as businesses.

Walmart developed a campaign on Twitter that stated they would donate $0.90/click, like, and retweet in support of Feeding America, a hunger relief charity. This campaign makes sense for Walmart because not only did it drive engagement on their Twitter account, but it also aligned with who they are as a grocery store.

Similarly, The Honest Company developed a #DiaperGap campaign with the goal of donating 1 million diapers to families in need. Each week during the month of March, Honest featured a different city across their social channels and agreed to donate one pack of Honest diapers for every reaction, like, comment, or share (up to 1 million diapers total). This makes sense for Honest because 1) they sell diapers, 2) their customer base primarily consists of mothers who want to provide the very best for their children, 3) it drives engagement across social, 4) and Honest’s overall mission is to build healthier, safer families.

Tip #2: Take a stand while staying true to your brand

Sometimes simply taking a stand for what you believe in can be enough for millennials to view your brand as a force for good. For example, in March, REI tweeted a call to action stating, “If the administration won’t do it, we will. Take action and keep the Clean Power Plan alive in your state.” They included a link that provided information on how to request that your governor enforce strong protections from power plant emissions. As a retail brand focused on outdoor apparel, REI’s stance here truly aligns with who they are as a brand and proves their concern for a greater good.

Similarly, Clif Bar used social to speak about their stand on climate change. They posted content on Instagram that informed their audience of the threat that climate change has on the environment as well as information about their own energy and farming standards. They also requested a call to action stating, “Join us in taking a stance. Share why climate change is real for you at the People’s Climate March tomorrow. Click the link in our bio to get the tools that can help you make a statement.”

Both REI and Clif Bar chose to take a stand on social causes that are at the core of these brands’ missions and everyday work. Taking a stance such as these across your social channels can build brand loyalty and love, without having to create in-depth campaigns or partnerships.

Taking a stance across your social channels can build brand loyalty and love.


Tip #3: Support nationally recognized days for good

Another, simpler technique for showing your brand’s support of relevant social causes is by participating in nationally recognized days for good. Madewell showed their support of #EarthDay by using it as an opportunity to share about their blue jean recycling initiative across their social channels. For every old pair of blue jeans brought into the store, Madewell gives customers $20 off a new pair and recycles the old jeans into housing insulation for communities in need.

Lyft supported #EqualPayDay across their social platforms by partnering with Lean In and donating 20% of ride proceeds to organizations that serve women and families. Most brands don’t want to overdo it when it comes to talking about their social responsibility efforts, so utilizing relevant national days and hashtags can be a great opportunity to share that information in a natural, humble way.

Eighty-seven percent of millennials believe that a business’ success should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance. In fact, 73 percent believe that brands must have a positive social impact on society.

So knowing this information about millennials, how can your business position itself to appeal to this audience of consumers? Luckily, you have options. You can build out a campaign across social that benefits a relevant, non-profit organization. You can take a stance on political issues that impact your line of work and integrate that opinion into your social calendar. Or, you can simply jump on the national whatever-it-may-be day and use that as a very natural way to show you care. At the end of the day, I (as one of those pesky millennials who cares about these sorts of things) just want to know that you have a heart at the core of your business model and that choosing your services means creating an even greater good in the world. And, as you know, social is the best way to reach me.

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Blair Pettit is a Social Media Coordinator who works on social care and brand love strategy for a variety of clients at Spredfast. A Vandy alum and Memphis area native, Blair made her way to Austin, Texas just under 2 years ago. Apart from social (of course), she’s a big fan of playing soccer, keeping up with the latest hip-hop jams, watching SEC football (Go Dores), and exploring new restaurants.