How Small Businesses Can Contribute To Social Change Movements
Over 80% of millennials believe that the primary purpose of a business is to create social value, not profits. Realistically, a business has to make money to survive, but even the world’s largest asset management company, BlackRock, is now demanding the companies they invest in contribute to the society around them which includes shareholders, employees, customers and the communities they operate in.
For many in companies, this is a massive shift from their initial goals as a business, but it’s become increasingly necessary to do more than just draw profits. Customers expect genuine connections and for a company to generate real change within the social movements that matter to them.
Most recently, with the major social unrest on many issues including climate change, immigration and racism, everyone from the big brands and celebrities to smaller businesses and micro influencers are weighing in on what matters to them and looking for ways to affect critical changes through their audiences.
In the past few weeks, numerous white female celebrities and influencers have teamed up through the #sharethemicnow movement and are lending their following to black female voices to get their message heard by a wide audience who may be undereducated on black issues that are coming to the forefront.
We’ve also seen many athletes coming together to use their celebrity to push organizations to make changes to policies that have caused discrimination and divide in the past.
As we’ve seen, and will continue to see this grow in the future, brands are often what moves social change forward. Consumers no longer want brands who tackle issues when they are pushed to, but that companies are taking a proactive stance to create a better world.
As a small business owner, you may be wondering if this applies to you – It does! Every brand can dramatically impact the community around them, especially small businesses who are naturally more ingrained in the local community and economy.
So, how do you go about affecting social change through your brand as a small business? Here are some steps you can take:
1. Decide What You Stand For – Be true to your brand and yourself. What matters to you, your team and your customers should be what drives you. Authenticity is critical when determining your vision and mission and your social contributions should be reflected here. When social issues come to the forefront, be sure to take a step back and ask yourself what aligns with your brand before you wade in
2. State Your Case – Once you know what matters to your brand, or what your stance is on a particular issue, share that with your audience. Take a stand on important issues and don’t be afraid to follow through with action that supports these values, even if it may alienate a few – those aren’t your customers anyways
3. Act As An Educator – Businesses are often the leaders in a community and can definitely differentiate themselves by taking the time and effort to educate themselves and pass along that knowledge to those within your collective audience. People live fast paced lives, so if you can simplify important information, it’s more likely that your audience will consume it and take action
A really important area that business owners can share knowledge is on political issues. There will be decisions made at every level of government and publicly funded organizations that impact your business. Keeping up on these is certainly important for your business, but taking the extra step to make the information digestible and sharing it with your audience can really set your business apart and set it up to be a true changemaker
If there are elections happening in your area, tell your followers how certain elected officials or bills will impact your community or the focus area of your business. Engaging your audience to be a part of the solution will create larger change, but will also cement relationships that will keep your business growing
4. Vote – On a political note, make sure you vote and encourage your team and customers to vote as well. You can vote on polling days with your X, but don’t forget you can also vote with your dollars. Small businesses are one of the largest contributors to the local economy so don’t forget that you can inspire change with your dollars and encourage your brand community to do the same. Watch who you partner with and who you hire as well. These are important places that your business puts their dollars and reputation, so ensure there is alignment before building those relationships
5. Contribute – Every business can contribute to social causes in some way. Whether you’re able to offer part of your products and services to a cause, or to act as a gathering space for like-minded individuals, or maybe you can raise money for an organization through your business or volunteer with your team. Whatever you can do to take real action and contribute makes a big difference
6. Encourage Positive Action – Many companies feel awkward sharing the good that they do with their customers and communities, but we see it as a chance to inspire others to get involved as well. Talk in your business and on your social channels about what matters to your company, what you’re doing to support change in those areas and how they can help to. Brands rarely realize how much impact they have on their audiences but they do and it can be used to spur positive action
Overall, for a brand to contribute effectively to social change movements, you need to ensure you are clear on who your brand is and what you stand for – what matters to you, your team and your community. You need to state your case and be intentional about making decisions that align and executing on what you stand for.
Acting as a leader within your community is a critical role for small business owners that will positively impact your community and your business. Don’t shy away from being an educator or from sharing the good your business does – it may inspire others to take action as well!
Lastly, make sure that you vote – with your ballot, your dollars, your partnerships and your employees. Make sure your policymakers know where you stand and that your audience knows how to support these measures as well.
Being a business owner in 2020 takes a lot more than a great product or service – you need to share your passion for your industry and your community in an authentic way. The great news is that all of these actions tie back to various areas of running your business – your team, suppliers, your social media content, marketing, etc., so being an effective change leader won’t necessarily increase your workload.
Customers are demanding more, but that only means that you have the opportunity to be a leader that not only contributes to positive change in your world, but to inspire others to do that same and that’s pretty powerful!
If your company could benefit from some extra support with communicating your brand values and executing a strategy around social change, Digital Monk can help. Reach out to get the conversation going today.