Updated: Jan 17
In the previous blog post, Is it essential to be socially responsible in digital marketing? (Part1), we discussed the Definition of Social Responsibility in Marketing and Why you should be Socially Responsible. This part will discuss the importance of being socially responsible in digital marketing.
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.
Many more audiences are expecting more from the businesses with which they interact. In addition to the recent Kantar study, which found that 68% of US respondents expect brands to be courageous in their values, current statistics on social value suggest that:
68% of consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom would abandon a brand due to poor or misleading Corporate Social Responsibility.
When costs and quality are equal, 71% of respondents in a 'purpose perception' study will choose a purpose-driven company over the alternative.
Almost half of the online shoppers in the UK and US would pay a premium for socially conscious or environmentally friendly brands.
So, even after just a few of these statistics, it's nearly impossible to ignore the link between audience purchasing behaviour and whether a brand or company is socially responsible.
While the percentage of people who would consider and expect brands to be open about their values varies depending on ethnicity or another demographic group, it is undeniable that being socially responsible is critical for brands to remain relevant to their audiences and their vastly more impactful expectations.
And while this is mainly applicable to companies and their practices, it reinforces the idea that if the success of a company and its marketing efforts is becoming more dependent on how vocal it is about social values, then the relationship between a business and a marketing agency is also becoming dominated by the need to be socially responsible.
With an influx of companies incorporating socially responsible elements into their marketing practices, marketing agencies - particularly for SMEs - must account for how a prospective or existing client may sit amongst a more conscious audience pool.
Companies are being exposed for malpractice or misleading CSR at a time when social media is rife with cancel culture, and numerous brands are being scrutinized more closely than ever.
Individuals and corporations are held accountable for either remaining silent on social issues or being perceived as "opportunistic" by running socially invested campaigns.
Consumers adopted a sense of responsibility in 2020, educating themselves on the brands they supported financially and holding them accountable to change practices that actively worked against social or environmental progress.
Bad press online is now the most difficult challenge for a brand as consumers shift from passive to active. This can harm the success of a brand that does not actively support social or environmental issues.
This is also true for brands that are 'jumping on the bandwagon' of running superficial campaigns - many have recently been accused of profiting from such campaigns and celebrations as pride, for example - and those that remain silent on social issues. According to research, 49% of consumers believe companies that don't speak out on their values or current problems don't care.
In this case, it is the digital marketing agency's responsibility to consider the impact of developing a marketing strategy for a client who needs to be socially responsible. And how this hurts not only the client's business but also their own because they are associated with it.
Should digital marketing agencies hold their clients to a higher standard if consumers hold brands and businesses to a higher standard?
Should agencies be held accountable for the brands with which they partner?
In terms of accountability, while any hypothetical brand backlash is not directly reflected on the digital marketing agency itself, there is an element of reputation that feeds into this situation...
Do You Give a Damn About Your Reputation?
Social proof is one of the most important ways for any business to attract new customers, which is still valid for digital marketing agencies.
Testimonials and reviews are among the most important ways for brands and agencies to attract new clients. In B2B marketing, one company will see another supported by a credible brand through testimonials from current and previous partnerships.
As a result, an agency with social proof can persuade a potential brand that it has more significant growth potential than an agency that does not use social proof methods such as reviews, testimonials, or simply displaying previous and existing partnerships.
This, however, is a two-edged sword.
Suppose an agency has a track record of partnering with well-known or quickly understood brands to combat social or environmental issues. In that case, this may influence the likelihood of brands wanting to be associated with that agency.
Because individual consumer responsibility is increasingly impacting businesses' performance, these brands may want to partner - where necessary - with a digital marketing agency that also aligns with forward-thinking values.
One that actively demonstrates an understanding that remaining relevant to audiences requires marketing to be increasingly socially aware.
Social Media Specialist