The People Have Spoken
Over the last few years, social issues in relation to representation, human rights, environmental justice and social equity have rightfully become extremely popular topics of discussion in the media. However, this conversation is not only being spearheaded solely by news outlets and media professionals. Everyday people are now taking to social media, utilizing the channel as a tool to stand up for what they believe in and mobilize their friends and followers.
Online media has been completely revolutionized by movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #TakeaKnee and #MeToo, just to name a handful. In the current social and political climate, advertisers and brands need to decide if they want to take a stance on such issues and, if so, create socially conscious ads that acknowledge them in a proper manner.
What It Means to Be Socially Conscious and Responsible
Socially conscious advertising is the integration of social responsibility into advertising. By uniting the two, brands are meant to proactively consider the social and political implications of their products, services and advertisements. “Social responsibility,” simply put, is a business’ obligation to pursue achievable and good long-term goals for its people and the world at large. Such advertising requires advertisers to truly analyze their brand’s stance on social justice issues, examining what is in the best interest of their customers and society at large.
However, it also humanizes brands. Socially conscious advertising humanizes brands by holding them accountable for the ways in which they impact their community, similarly to any other regular citizen. Such social responsibility is rooted in transparency. Consumers want to be fully aware of the impact the products they consume and the companies from which they purchase said products make. In turn, having such information easily accessible to your audience eases their concerns and shows that your brand is trustworthy.
It’s Easy as One, Two, Three
There are many avenues and methods that companies can take to highlight and utilize transparency in their communication strategies. This could include behind-the-scenes content on how their products are created to presenting statistics about the components or impact of their products. Transparency requires full honesty, open communication, and a willingness and ability to admit to company mistakes or misjudgments.
To increase transparency, brands should consider what customers care about and desire to know. By capturing market research and social listening, brands can determine what topics or issues are important to their target audiences. Companies can be transparent about the impact of their products, the steps that they are taking to create more ethical products or policies, or the ways in which social movements resonate with their brand. Therefore, transparency tactics can differ according to a brand’s mission and customer base.
You Should Do It, Too
Due to the fact that social responsibility is not compulsory, many companies might not feel the need to engage. However, there are several reasons as to why it is important for companies to prioritize social responsibility
Socially conscious advertising can help a brand highlight its presence, therefore enabling the company to become more recognizable among consumers (if taking a stance is in alignment with their brand). Consumers are more likely to remember and appreciate an ad that makes them feel represented or addresses an issue that they care about in comparison to an ad that simply directs them to purchase a product. This form of advertising becomes a part of a brand’s image, for it showcases brand values and consumer impressions.
Customer loyalty can often stem from brand authenticity, shared values and empathy in messaging. Socially conscious advertising unites these three important factors, creating content that resonate with consumers and entices them to support brands long-term. Consumers are actively considering and assessing the belief systems of the brands that they desire to support. Thus, companies that are looking to build brand loyalty and establish a trusting relationship with their customers can aid from being empathetic and transparent in their advertising.
Similarly, when companies employ a social responsibility strategy, they paint themselves as being a compassionate brand that treats all individuals, including their employees, well. Moreover, a business that is committed to improving the world is also likely to attract more talent. Corporate social responsibility efforts help foster a productive and positive work environment, for these efforts have proven to be important to both consumers and employees.
Authenticity is Key
However, in order to implement social responsibility into their advertising strategies, brands must prioritize a key factor– authenticity. Socially conscious advertising is not solely about curating and creating ads that audiences will react positively to in order to earn a profit. Companies must audit their own culture, policies and products beforehand, identifying how changes can be made for the better good of their community.
While advertisers may desire to create ads that exhibit the goal of reaching a wider audience or increasing sales, the goal of socially conscious ads should convey a message that is simultaneously authentic and important. One way to do this is by treating socially conscious advertising as a personable and inspiring story. Brands could tell this story by experimenting with various media forms that range from short videos to documentary-style ads. Additionally, socially conscious advertising can be active, rather than reactive. It can serve as a catalyst for a meaningful conversation, or it can offer a solution to an existing issue in society. When implementing such advertising, brands must also ensure that socially conscious ads are timely and relevant so that they are in conversation with users when they are discussing or displaying interest in specific topics.
Let’s Hold Everyone Accountable
Advertising has advanced beyond the selling of products and services to a target market. As society continues to evolve and becomes more aware of the social and political implications of everything that frames and shapes our world, the media is being held accountable to the ideologies it promotes, too. Socially conscious advertising is a way for brands to look inward and identify the values that matter to them. Any company can actively include socially conscious ads in their content. By acknowledging their own social responsibility and power, brands can cultivate a loyal customer base while enacting positive social change.
The Ward Group is aware of the power that we hold as an agency within today’s society; we acknowledge the power of being socially responsible. Contact our media experts and embark upon your socially-conscious journey today!