How to Promote a Social Issue in Your Online Business (and Why You Should)

These days, it’s increasingly common for businesses to promote social issues, which may be related to the health and wellness of a segment of the population, or a political issue that somehow affects the state of the world. But as an online business owner, is it in your best interest to promote social issues like these, or lend your support to them?

Types of Social Issues to Promote

There are some social issues that can be beneficial to promote, while others are more controversial, or less relevant to your company.

Stick to issues like these:

  • Personal issues. If there’s a social issue that’s relevant to you, specifically, as an individual, you can share your story and your reasoning for pursuing it. If you were injured in an accident with a drunk driver, for example, you might push for stricter alcohol regulations or drunk driving awareness.
  • Inarguably benevolent issues. You could also pursue a social issue that no sane person would object to. For example, nobody is going to criticize you for collecting donations for cancer research (assuming you’re working with a legitimate organization).
  • Industry issues. You may also choose an issue that’s specific to your industry. For example, if you’re in the recycling industry, you might promote awareness of the importance of electronics recycling and sustainability.

The Benefits

So what are the benefits of this type of promotion? Why would you spend time and/or money on supporting this cause with your online business’s platform?

  • Action and donations. For starters, you’ll attract donations or encourage volunteers to step forward. If this is a social issue that’s important to you, this is reward enough.
  • Cross-promotion. If you’re working consistently with an external organization, they might post links to your site regularly. This serves as a form of cross-promotion, and may help you earn more visitors.
  • Brand reputation. People who see that your brand is engaging in corporate social responsibility will think more highly of your brand. With a better reputation, you’ll see higher customer retention, and you might be more competitive with some of your contemporaries.

Important Tips for Success

Now let’s focus on how you can promote a social issue in your online business to make the most of the tactic:

  • Choose the right issue. Remember, you can’t pick a social issue at random and hope to see results. Some issues are better than others, because they’re more personal, because they’re less controversial, or because they’ll reach a broader audience. Think carefully before you finalize your choice.
  • Avoid polarizing your audience. Some issues will bear the risk of polarizing your audience; in other words, some people will be for your issue, while others will be against it. This can stir up arguments and controversy, which may defeat the purpose of your promotion in the first place. To avoid polarization, try not to politicize the issue, and stick to the facts when promoting it.
  • Be tactful. Be tactful when introducing your support of a given social issue. If people think your company is engaging with the issue for the sole purpose of self-promotion, they may be turned off. Express your sincere feelings on the issue, and avoid promoting your brand too much in this context.
  • Reach out to a specific organization for help. Don’t try to tackle a social issue entirely on your own. Instead, reach out to a nonprofit organization or charity for tips on how to raise awareness the right way. They may be able to give you promotional materials you can use to support the cause, or may allow you to use their brand and logo when discussing the issue. Just make sure the charity or organization you choose is a legitimate one.
  • Be consistent. If you’re going to promote a social issue, it shouldn’t be a one-time push. You’ll stand to reap the best benefits if you promote this issue consistently, so your audience comes to associate you with your support of the issue. Stay consistent in your treatment and promotion across mediums.
  • Show your support. If you want to convince your audience of your convictions in addressing this issue, go out of your way to show support by donating a portion of the business’s earnings, or personally volunteering for the cause. If you need help finding ways to donate or volunteer, websites like VolunteerMatch can help you find an opportunity.

Ultimately, choosing social issues to promote within your business can be advantageous—as long as you know what you’re doing. Think carefully about your decisions, and only move forward when you have a strategically sound path to do so. If successful, you’ll not only assist in this important cause, you’ll also stand to make a better name for yourself.