If you’ve tuned into any news sources recently you’ve heard about Hurricane Harvey and the devastation it has caused so far, similar to the destruction by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Already, tens of thousands of people have lost everything from the storm and the numbers are climbing as it continues to drop historic amounts of rain days later.
With thousands of people needing basic supplies, food and water, organizations are coming together to offer their assistance. While these disasters are awful and heart wrenching to witness, they provide a time for businesses to evaluate and put into play a social responsibility policy. Continue reading to learn how being socially responsible affects your brand’s image and ways you can use content marketing to help.
What is Social Responsibility?
Social responsibility is the accountability organizations and the individuals within them have to the greater good of society. It is about businesses giving back, building communities and making a positive difference in people’s lives beyond the products or services they offer, without expecting anything in return.
What is Your Brand?
Have you asked yourself, what is my brand? You’re not alone; it is a question that business owners need to ponder and evaluate. Your brand is much more than just the name of your company. It encompasses how people view your business and the opinion they form and share with others. Every interaction with your organization reflects on your image and reputation – your brand. As a business owner, you need to be consciously aware of how people are interpreting these exchanges and make sure the message they receive is the one you want them to perceive.
Social Responsibility and Your Brand
People are watching your brand; how you respond to events happening in your local community or on a broader scale, like Hurricane Harvey, says a lot about your business and influences people’s opinions. Companies that never give back to society can be seen as greedy, cold and un-human, while the businesses that make an effort to be socially responsible often have a warm and welcoming image.
Every business should emphasize to their employees the importance of giving back. Put into place a policy that rewards individuals who take the time and effort to give back; this has been successful for Three Girls Media as the team works remotely in different parts of the country. A few other ways you can showcase your social responsibility are:
- Sponsor community events
- Build a team that actively participates in community service projects together
- Participate in donation drives
- Host a donation drive or fundraiser for a cause you’re passionate about
- Partner with other socially responsible companies
- If applicable, offer relevant products and services to those affected by a natural disaster (like this furniture store in Houston generously opened his store to hurricane victims that needed a place to stay)
No matter what route you choose for your business, don’t forget to share what you are doing. Keep reading to learn how to use your social responsibility activities as a source for content and ways to spread the news.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is about sharing news and information with people in an attempt to build brand awareness and name recognition, increase interest in your business, answer common questions about your industry and/or company, connect with consumers and raise online visibility. The tools involved are extremely cost effective and more powerful than traditional marketing techniques making it ideal for small and medium sized businesses with a shoestring budget, but it takes time and patience to reach your goals. Catching the eye of your target audience can be tough, but the following tips can help you in efforts.
- Define measurable goals.What’s the purpose of content you are sharing? Is it to drive traffic to your website? To build a relationship with your social media followers? To inform current and potential customers of a new product or service? Make sure that you have a way to measure your goals so you know if your strategy was successful when you review it in 6 months or a year. How many new followers are you hoping to add? Are people engaging with the content? Is your website getting more visitors?
- Develop a strategy.Once you know your goals, think about how you plan to achieve them. What channels are best suited for the different pieces of content you want to share? How often are you going to post updates and articles on those different channels? These questions will help you outline an effective strategy. Having goals without a plan is a disaster waiting to happen.
- Listen to your audience!Pay attention to questions and comments from your audience, and evaluate each channel’s analytics to see which content seems to be most popular. This feedback will help you figure out what your followers want from you and will help you create new content with similar insight and information.
Social Responsibility and Content Marketing
As you work on projects in the community, you will have abundant opportunities to create powerful content perfect for sharing, including photo opportunities to show progress and partnerships, videos to give a behind the scenes peek and text explaining what you’re up to. There are a few tools you can and should use to share content.
- Social Media. Billions of people use social media every day. In fact, it’s the most popular online activity! Consumers not only use social media to connect with friends and family from around the world, but it has also become a tool to research different businesses and bond with their favorite brands. Social media has connected the world in unbelievable ways.
Build a positive reputation on your social channels and show people that your brand cares. Create updates about what your team is working on in the community, post pictures of your employees getting involved and share the excitement of milestones your project has reached. Social media is also a great way to create a call to action for your followers to get involved with your efforts, such as making donations and inviting them to participate with you.
- E-Newsletters. Email newsletters (or e-newsletters) are one of the most effective ways to share information directly with your audience, retain customers and increase your ROI. Use this tactic to your advantage and communicate your company’s ongoing efforts to be socially responsible by sending messages right into subscribers’ inboxes.
Is there a big project in the community coming up that your employees are excited to start working on? Have you recently partnered with an organization to gather supplies and donations? Did your team reach a noteworthy goal? These updates
are perfect topics to include within your regular newsletter. If you have a more pressing and time sensitive matter you want to get them involved with, a special mailing dedicated to the cause is a great option to use sparingly.
- Blog Posts. Does your company have a blog? I sure hope it does! Not only is blogging a great way to boost your visibility on search engines, it allows you to build your company as a leader in your industry and provides a platform for you to tell the world about your business.
This is the place where you can dive into detail about your business’ civil projects. Offer details on why your employees or brand chose this endeavor, how it will help make the world (or at least your corner of it) a better place, what your role is in the project and any other pieces of information that will help show that your brand is a leader that cares.
- Media Outreach. When appropriate, create a media advisory detailing what your company is planning, how it will help make a difference and inviting the press and their audience to join. This form of content is a great way to get people outside of your company involved while also sharing how your brand is being socially responsible.
Another great media outreach idea is creating a press release when you hit a major milestone or complete an important project in the community. A key detail to keep in mind when considering sending a press release is that whatever you plan to share needs to be newsworthy.
No matter which avenue you choose to share your involvement in the community, remember to stay humble. There is a fine line between bragging and modestly sharing your excitement. Boasting arrogantly about your projects and fishing for praise on your social responsibility is a surefire way to turn people off from your company.
I hope this article has inspired you to gather your employees and put into place a plan to make a difference in your community. With so many people needing help after Hurricane Harvey, consider starting your social responsibility policy with a donation to the American Red Cross relief effort to bring the necessary food and supplies to those who are affected by the devastation.