As people’s social and environmental awareness grew, the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) became widely discussed in corporations and consumer groups. Corporations started committing to CSR in order to leave a more positive impact on their communities, while consumers considered CSR an important factor in their purchasing decisions.
But what is CSR, really? It’s a broad concept that can take many forms depending on a business and its industry. To an eco-friendly business, CSR means adopting business practices that reduce environmental impacts. To a family wellness brand, meanwhile, CSR means promoting loving homes and familial bonds.
The two concepts are so different, yet they both make positive contributions to the environment and society. And that’s the spirit of CSR; it’s being conscious of the kind of impact one is leaving on all aspects of society, including social, environmental, and economic.
These days, as consumers are now more environmentally and socially aware, they’ve become more selective on the brands they support. If they observe a strong CSR on a brand, they’re more likely to buy from it. Hence, businesses should focus their marketing strategies on their CSR, not only on the benefit of their products.
Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility
To define CSR, it’s the way for companies to take responsibility for their actions and their impact on their employees, stakeholders, and communities. Basically, it helps them be socially accountable. To engage in CSR, a company must operate in ways that enhance the society and environment, instead of harming them.
Donating money to charity doesn’t make a business automatically socially responsible. Though donations help make a difference, it doesn’t compare to the impact that would’ve been created if everyone in an organization is accountable and strives to earn the trust of consumers and investors. CSR helps strengthen bonds between employees and businesses, boost morale, and allow organizations to be more connected to the world around them.
Often, businesses that adopt CSR programs have already grown, and CSR is their way of giving back. As such, CSR is primarily a strategy for large corporations. Starbucks, for example, started being more socially responsible in 2019, achieving milestones such as ethically sourcing 99% of their coffee, pioneering green building throughout their stores, and performing community service. Apple recently committed to CSR as well, recycling old phone parts and encouraging iPhone users to reuse their old chargers.
Stressing CSR in Your Marketing Plan
To make your market aware of your CSR, digital marketing is key. By spreading online content about your social or environmental programs, you can reach different market segments and create a better reputation for your business.
One of the biggest trends in CSR is environmental awareness. Since businesses are known for leaving significant carbon footprints, they are encouraged to make their practices more sustainable. And consumers support this. In fact, 57% of consumers are willing to shop more mindfully to reduce their environmental impacts.
Besides, sustainability is a practice all businesses in all industries can adopt. As the threat of irreversible climate change increases, your business should also help make a change. Below are some green marketing strategies to stress in your socially responsible marketing plan:
Optimize Your Content
Invest in professional SEO management services to make your content visible in search engines. Post photos demonstrating your business’s commitment to the environment, as well as blogs about the environmental issues caused by business practices. Share how the CSR programs you’re adopting can change that, and share tips for consumers on how they can reduce their carbon footprint.
Don’t claim that you’re sustainable when you’re not. That’s greenwashing, which is the failure to provide adequate details about your supposed sustainable practices. If you’re truly committed to sustainability, anchor all your business decisions toward it, and tell the story to your customers.
Focus on Digital Marketing Tools
Aside from content optimization, convert your physical promotional materials into digital tools. For example, if you had billboards before, take them down and use digital ads instead. Eliminating waste, such as print and packaging, reduces global waste and allows you to communicate with your market easier.
Encourage User-generated Content
When consumers see real people posting about your sustainable brand, they’d trust your business more. Form a relationship with credible influencers and celebrities, and let them know your brand well enough that they’d post about it without being told to. Use hashtags to make user-generated content visible on as many feeds as possible.
Remember, CSR requires you, your employees, and all stakeholders in your business to be accountable. That means the public figures you’re working with should also commit to your brand’s CSR. If you’re an eco-friendly business, then you must also choose environmentally-conscious brand ambassadors. It might be difficult to unite your organization and its stakeholders for a cause, but your CSR won’t be authentic without a common goal.