Major companies are turning towards advocacy after facing increased pressure to get involved in social and policy issues. According to Public Affairs Council, over 60% of the 92 companies surveyed said that they have been pressured to get involved in social issues, with 74% indicating that pressure will continue to trend up. Whether it be human rights, environmental sustainability, and education, businesses are shifting their business model to a more socially responsible one. As a whole, the world is becoming more and more data-driven. Here are three reasons why private companies should harness the power of digital advocacy:
1. Employees and consumers want companies to be socially conscious
According to Entrepreneur.com, a Nielsen report stated that “55% of consumers would spend more for goods and services from companies that are socially conscious.” An earlier study from Newswire found that 63% of these globally conscious people were under 40. People want to support companies that share their values and distance themselves from the ones that don’t practice corporate social responsibility. Companies want that customer loyalty and are now realizing that the CSR model is the way to go. Using the power of digital advocacy, companies can now leverage digital tools to effect change in the social efforts that they care about. One way is through using social media and content to engage and reach key audiences, such as policymakers, reporters, grassroots supporters, etc (1). Another use is to use social media to develop their companies as thought leaders on policy issues. According to the Public Affairs Council, companies like UPS and Microsoft use their Twitter accounts to bolster engagement around their advocacy initiatives and have used their influence to ensure that audiences like academics and policymakers come to them first about issues important to the company (1). Digital Action Alerts through social media allow companies to engage their consumers and mobilize them to take action.
2. Socially responsible companies are important to millennials
For millenials, social responsibility is expected. The millennial generation is the most socially conscious generation. Issues like environmental sustainability, human rights, and safeguarding labor are some of the many issues on the forefront of their minds whenever they purchase a product or fill out an employee application. Because of this expectation for brands to to support their social causes, companies are shifting their business model to align with this trend. Toms Shoes is a great example. Their simple shoes are arguably not their main selling point. Rather, it’s their social awareness efforts. For every pair sold, Toms donates a pair to a child in need of shoes. They have given over 60 million pairs since using their One-for-One model (2). Their model made them one of the fastest growing apparel brands, and they are now attracting a huge following for their anti-poverty efforts as well (3). Millennials support and buy Toms shoes because of their social efforts that align with their causes. Patagonia, whose target audience is millennials age 25-34, is a member of 1% For The Planet, whose members donate 1% of their profits to preserving and restoring the environment.4 They have given over $74 million to numerous environmental groups since the launch of this campaign(2). Through their environmental grants and support program, Patagonia also encourages consumers to get involved in grassroots advocacy through environmental groups like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation(4).
3. Digital advocacy means stronger advocacy
Grassroots advocacy allows consumers to have a voice in the issues they care about. Because both the company and consumers have shared causes, consumers are willing to rally around a common cause and influence policies that affect the company. Using digital advocacy tools can help companies easily turn consumers into advocates and engage in issues they both support through social media, email, etc. Companies are using a data-driven approach that adds a powerful component to influencing public policy or regulations that affect companies. Using data-driven communications and advocacy campaigns can help to find and identify key advocates, study key metrics in order to increase advocacy action rates, and target policymakers and increase their advocates’ engagement.