Updated: Jan 16
Within the realm of digital marketing, there is a constant discussion about the ethics of this vast and ever-changing industry, concerns about ethical practice and the use of AI, algorithms, and tracking.
There are debates about digital marketing and the widely accepted use of utilitarianism as an ethical practice - making decisions judged to be moral or unethical based on the outcomes or consequences of those decisions. As a result, there are concerns about privacy, the use of personal data, and the numerous factors that come with having an online presence and using platforms like social media.
However, a growth factor that must be considered alongside ethical practices concerns is social responsibility. According to a recent study in the United States, 75% of people are more likely to buy from a company that supports an issue with which they agree.
This suggests that not only are general audiences becoming more aware of social and cultural issues, but audiences are also expecting more from companies and demonstrating that they mean it through their purchasing habits.
So, how does this apply to a digital marketing agency in Toronto, for example, as one of the most competitive locations in Canada, in terms of standing out from the crowd of digital marketing businesses? Is it significant? And how does social responsibility in marketing affect the success or failure of a marketing agency?
But, on the other hand, how important is social responsibility in this age of collective consciousness? Younger generations, in particular, expect more from the infrastructures and conglomerates that have supported a commercial system for generations, demanding better, more ethical, and conscious practices.
Climate positivity, diversity, and foresight govern entire demographics.
So, how important is it for digital marketers to consider their practices?
Let's go exploring.
What Is the Definition of Social Responsibility in Marketing?
In business, social responsibility holds that a company should be "good citizens," balancing revenue generation with acts or strategies that benefit communities or society on a local or global scale. To help communities with products or services, many businesses have incorporated socially responsible elements into their practices and marketing strategies.
In marketing, social responsibility refers to attracting customers who want to make a difference with their purchases. As a result, it also implies that digital marketers must be aware of whether or not the clients they represent have a positive impact.
And, if not, is it becoming necessary for marketing firms to ask their clients these questions?
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Why Should You Be Socially Responsible?
Unsurprisingly, a 2020 Kantar study found that 68% of consumers expect brands to be clear about their values, while 46% of millennials and 42% of Gen-Zers expect companies and brands to be brave in addressing social and cultural issues within their practices.
Suppose there is a growing demand from audiences that the businesses they engage with are actively tackling social issues, changing larger scale practices that may be environmentally damaging, or supporting structures of inequality, for example. In that case, the same must be asked of the digital marketing agencies that plan and strategize these businesses' online presence.
Of course, the E-Commerce behemoths will have in-house marketing teams, so the question becomes one of several parts, focusing on the digital marketer's role in this situation.
How important is it for a digital marketing agency's longevity to consider its clients' social and environmental footprint when representing SMEs?
And what are the ramifications of not considering these factors for digital agencies? This is something we'll go over later.
Social Media Specialist