Risk vs. Reward: When Brands Take on Social Issues

Now, more than ever, brands are engaging in social media in a way that goes beyond traditional advertising. Brands with massive social followings are expressing their views on heated social issues, a huge risk, for better or worse, but consumers seem to gravitate towards brands that truly stand behind a cause.

Risk of Social Backlash

It should come to no surprise that reputations can be tarnished or glorified in a single day on social media. With that, companies and individuals risk a great deal when taking a stand on a sensitive social issue. Brands could lose thousands of consumers and potential business. However, the reward is the potential of gaining the trust and loyalty of even more consumers. For instance, Tim Cook recently spoke out about in support of marriage equality on Twitter. His decision to speak openly about his opinions may have cost Apple numerous consumers, perhaps even the support of investors. Nonetheless, especially in the case of Apple, brands only have more to gain in the real of social media. In this regard, brands with millions of loyal users can encourage millions of people to also take a stand and voice their opinion, showing that companies can indeed practice what they preach and put their mission statements to the test. The risk is great, but the reward can be historic.

Brands as Social Leaders

For a universe of reasons, many brands lend their voice to social issues. Millions of consumers are influenced by their products or services, and therefore, brands have a unique opportunity to use their influence in the realm of social issues. For example, the Column Five infographic referenced in this article mentions surveys concluding that 90% of Americans are more likely to trust brands that back social causes. It becomes clear brands have the ability to ignite a revolution in a matter of minutes or hours through social media when they express views on sensitive issues. Renowned brands and their well-known leaders are looked up to and trusted because they have helped create a product or service that has made millions of lives better or more connected. People are more inclined to speak out on an issue when they feel like they have support form peers, but especially when a brand with major social and political influence has their backs.

Brands Take a Stand

Some brands expressing their views on social issues and are willing to lead like-minded consumers into an accelerated rate of change. A good example is collectively.org, a non-profit project backed by the likes of Coca-Cola and other major brands which provides an online platform to share cutting edge news in culture and technology. “The original idea for this platform was sparked by discussions at the World Economic Forum about how to inspire and accelerate the shift toward a more sustainable way of life.”

Social media in the hands of a socially savvy brand can use its power for good. Just like a Jedi. See how Imaginuity can help leverage social media for your company.

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