Should Your Brand Get Political on Social Media?
No. That’s what the age-old marketing wisdom tells us. Stay away from the hot-button issues. Focus on serving your audience the content they’ve come to expect from you. If you react at all as a brand, the common rule of thumb goes, it should be to take your brand off social during major social/political moments. Remember to pause your scheduled posts and social ads! Brand focus has been around crisis management rather than proactive strategy and perspective.
But a new report from Sprout Social challenges this marketing “wisdom.” The current political climate has contributed to a shift in how people interact with brands, and what they expect from brands. According to Sprout Social’s report, 66% of respondents said it is important for brands to take public stands on social and political issues.
Here are four of the most impactful takeaways. You can check out the full report here.
1. If You’re Going to Do It on Any Marketing Channel…
Sprout Social’s report makes it clear: social is the most effective marketing channel for conveying a social or political message as a brand, 11% higher than the closest medium, television/radio.
That’s because social is the medium where brands can get the most intimate with audiences, engage in two-way communication most easily, and receive feedback almost immediately. Brands like Patagonia aren’t afraid to say goodbye to traditional marketing tactics in order to make room for what is important to their brand.
2. There’s More Reward Than Risk
According to the Sprout Social report, the most common emotional reactions to brands taking a stand on social are positive, with “intrigued,” “impressed,” and “engaged” emerging as the top three consumer reactions.
Taking a stand also turns out to be a great tactic for brand amplification and awareness, while avoiding many of the pitfalls associated with a negative reaction: people will spread the word when they agree, but won’t take action when they disagree.
3. CEOs Should Take a Stand
If your brand chooses to take a stand, whether through a public donation, statement, or awareness campaign, your CEO and executives should be promoting and bolstering this effort on their own personal social channels.
This top-down engagement is important to consumers, and it will go a long way towards increasing the impact of your message. There are a few ways which the report suggests that CEOs get involved.
4. Liberal Users Think It’s More Important That Brands Take Stands
Seventy-eight percent of Sprout Social’s respondents who identify as liberal want brands to take a stand, while only about half of respondents who identify as conservative feel the same.
Liberals are also more likely to take action when a brand posts content that is aligned with their views.
Not only does taking a stand produce positive reactions in liberals, it also increases brand credibility among this group. The same is not true for conservatives. Eighty-two percent of liberals feel that brands are credible when taking stands, compared to just 46% of conservatives.
Check out the full report to learn more about the risks and rewards when brands get real about the issues that matter to us all.
I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.