4 ways your company’s brand can speak up digitally on social issues
For a long time, it has been understood that businesses keep politics from being a front-facing part of their business, either by staying neutral or not saying anything at all.
But that has changed over the course of the past few years.
This shift has been spearheaded by younger customers, employees, and businesses seeing the value in speaking up on social media about social issues that impact their communities and customers.
According to the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, between the time of George Floyd’s death in May and the end of October, around one-third of Fortune 1000 companies responded to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement by making a public statement and/or committing to racial equity within their own workplaces and communities.
Because of the importance of social media in daily lives, companies are utilizing their platforms to jump into the dialogue online. With a multitude of engagement platforms, like Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter, even if brands didn’t want to be a part of the conversation, they were still being talked about.
Younger consumers desire to spend their money on brands they feel share their values (on either side of the political aisle), and they have become sleuths at finding information online about a business’s shareholders, CEOs, and owners. Any public business has that information out there—and when it comes to small business owners, images on Facebook, get shared pretty quickly if they’re caught doing something in opposition to their brand’s claimed values.
Yeah, but does speaking up increase revenue for businesses?
For wineries, it does.
According to the Silicon Valley Bank State of the U.S. Wine Industry 2021 report, millennial wine-drinkers (people in their late twenties, up to their late thirties) and Generation Z wine-drinkers (age 21 to late-20s) look for brands that share their values of sustainability and making the world a better place through social justice.
“The younger wine consumers now, having lived through the Great Recession and a pandemic, aren’t destined to be consumers who will want to show off their wealth. They too will work for a better lifestyle, but they want to know that those who have wealth are contributing to a better world in some way, and instead of bragging about price, they would rather talk to friends about the good work that a brand and its owners are taking on.”
To connect with millennial or Gen Z consumers, businesses need to stand for something. These generations are more likely than their parents to consider factors like social impact and corporate values in their purchasing decisions.
On top of this, many boomer parents look to their children for advice on wines, restaurants, and consumer goods to purchase. So showcasing and embodying those values isn’t just about selling to a younger generation of shoppers, the impact trickles up as well.
Here are some action items for speaking up on social media.
1. Figure out what your brand values are
When working with any new client, one of the first steps I take is to sit down with them to create a larger marketing strategy (one that doesn’t just apply to social media).
A big component of this is breaking down the story of the brand and pinpointing passions that guide everything they do as a business (i.e., why they got into the industry in the beginning, what they love, what they value, what they would sell if they couldn’t sell their current product).
For many small business owners I have talked to, much of their personal passions translate to their business and many come down to family, community, and a love for their industry.
Ozzy Jimenez and Christian Sullberg co-own Moustache Baked Goods in Healdsburg, Pastry Annex in Windsor, and Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Shop in Healdsburg and Santa Rosa. They have become vocal supporters of their community. In the last year, Ozzy joined the Healdsburg City Council as vice mayor. Christian is the vice-chair at Positive Images, a support and advocacy group for Sonoma County’s LGBTQIA+ community.
Whether it’s donating desserts, giving their time during the fires, working with nonprofits and local governments, or speaking up on issues that matter to them, the two have shown just how important it is for small businesses to use their voice and engage with their audience’s values. Their customers love them for everything they stand for in the community and shop with them because of those values (having delicious desserts doesn’t hurt as well).
Ozzy said “customers want to know that a brand they love can also be responsive to community changes and lead when necessary. As strong players in the competitive world they want to know that your brand is doing more than just making a profit.”