How to Make Your Digital Marketing More Socially Responsible and Relevant


Socially responsible brands, social impact marketing and social discourse are emerging trends that are reshaping the business landscape. Do you know how to leverage them effectively in your marketing strategy?

Consumers are increasingly conscious of the social and environmental impact of their purchasing decisions. A recent survey by Cone Communications found that 87% of consumers will buy a product from a company that advocates for an issue they care about, while 76% will boycott a product from a company that supports an issue contrary to their beliefs. 

It’s evident that brands and businesses cannot afford to ignore these issues, but rather need to align their values and actions with those of their customers and stakeholders.

Understanding the Basics

Sustainability, social responsibility and social discourse are becoming increasingly important for consumers. So let’s define these concepts:

  • Sustainability refers to the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. 
  • Social responsibility refers to the obligation of a business to act in the best interests of society, including ethical, legal, cultural and humanitarian aspects. 
  • Social discourse refers to the conversations, debates and movements that affect society, including issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Integrating these into your digital marketing can impact your brand reputation, customer loyalty and competitive advantage. To help you leverage these concepts, let’s take a closer look at some best practices, values and messages that you can implement without being regarded as opportunistic.

Sustainable Practices

Marketing has two main approaches that aim to make a positive difference in the world. These are green marketing and sustainable marketing. They have similar goals, but they focus on different aspects of society and the environment.

Green marketing is about raising environmental awareness and protection. It shows how a product, service, or practice is good for the environment. It also uses eco-friendly practices in making, delivering and using the product, service, or practice. For example, it uses renewable energy sources, reduces waste and emissions, and sources locally and ethically.

Sustainable marketing is a wider approach that includes green marketing; it also considers social and economic issues besides the environmental ones. It tries to create value for everyone involved, such as customers, employees, suppliers, communities and the planet.

Some examples of green marketing campaigns include: Patagonia's "Don't Buy This Jacket" campaign, which encouraged consumers to buy less and repair more; Seventh Generation's "Come Clean" campaign, which advocated for transparency and regulation in the cleaning products industry; and IKEA's "BuyBack" program, which offered to buy back customers' old furniture and resell it as secondhand.

On the other hand, sustainable marketing examples include: Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign, which challenged unrealistic beauty standards and celebrated diversity and inclusion among women; TOMS's "One for One" model, which donated a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold; and Ben & Jerry's "Unilever Sustainable Living Plan", which committed to sourcing 100% fair trade ingredients, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% and supporting social justice causes.

Responsible Digital Marketing Messages

Social responsibility means acting in the best interests of society, including ethical, legal, cultural and humanitarian aspects. To integrate social responsibility into your digital marketing messages, you should:

Support a social cause

Make a donation to a charity or a nonprofit organization that aligns with your brand values. You can also create a donation campaign and encourage your customers to participate.

Participate in a social cause

Volunteer your time, skills, or resources to help a community or a group that needs support.

Ensure that your business practices are ethical and transparent

Avoid making false or misleading claims about your sustainability efforts.

Communicate your actions

Share your social responsibility efforts through your marketing calendar, including your website copy, your social media marketing, your email marketing campaigns and even your Facebook / Instagram advertising campaigns. Use clear, honest and engaging messages that resonate with your target audience.

How to engage with social discourse without being opportunistic

Social discourse means engaging in conversations, debates and movements that affect society. To engage with social discourse respectfully, you should:

Understand your target audience

Make a committed effort to understand their values, beliefs and interests and how they relate to social issues. Avoid stereotyping or generalizing your audience based on demographics.

Listen actively

Pay attention to your audience's feedback, concerns and ideas about social issues. Engage in respectful and authentic conversations that seek to learn and understand, not to convince or sell.

Be relevant

Choose social issues that are relevant to your brand values and mission and that align with your target audience's interests and concerns. Avoid jumping on trends or issues that are not relevant or that could backfire.

Support authentically

Support social causes or movements that align with your brand values and mission and that you can back up with actions, not just words. This will help you avoid accusations of being opportunistic or superficial in your support of social discourse. 

Remember that supporting social causes is not just about marketing; it's about making a positive impact on society and creating a more sustainable and just world.

Tools That Will Help You Make a Change

In addition to integrating social responsibility into your digital marketing messages, there are many tools and platforms that you can use to support social causes and movements authentically. Let's take a closer look at some of these:

Social media listening tools

These tools allow you to monitor social media conversations and trends related to specific social causes or movements, so that  you can understand what people are talking about, what they care about and how they feel about it. Some popular social media listening tools include Hootsuite, Brandwatch and Sprout Social.

Crowdfunding platforms

If you want to support a social cause or movement financially, you can use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe to raise funds and awareness for your cause. These platforms allow you to create a campaign, set a fundraising goal and share your campaign with your audience and supporters.

Social responsibility networks

There are many online communities and networks dedicated to social responsibility and sustainability, where you can connect with other businesses, individuals and organizations that share your values and mission. Some examples include the Sustainable Brands community, the Social Responsibility Alliance and the B Corp community.

Responsible Marketing, One Step At a Time

Making your digital marketing more socially responsible and relevant is not just a matter of good intentions or empty gestures. It requires a genuine commitment to sustainability, social responsibility and social discourse, as well as a willingness to learn, listen and act on feedback and insights from your audience.

Do you want to show your business as one that cares about the planet? Are you looking for the best channel to communicate your environmental commitment? Let’s jump on a FREE 30-minute strategy call!