People Don’t Want Brands to Take a Stand on Social…And Other Myths
There are a lot of myths about how people want to see brands behave on social, many of which the new Sprout #BrandsGetReal study debunks. Sprout Social surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers to better understand how people want brands to communicate their position and engage in conversations on political and social issues.
Here are some of the biggest myths that the study debunks.
1. People Don’t Want to See Brands Take a Stand on Social
This is the first big one. It’s not that people are vehemently opposed to your brand taking a stand: it’s that you have to do it RIGHT.
Key Takeaways for Social Marketers: Social is where people go to hear news and consume content from perspectives they care about, from best friends to brands. To continue being a part of this privileged circle of perspectives, you need to be strategic. Don’t weigh in on every subject, and try to focus on issues relevant to your brand, like Patagonia did specifically with its campaign in support of national parks, or like empowerment media brands like Girlboss do regularly.
Before sharing your opinion, gather all relevant stakeholders to identify why you’re taking a stand on social. How does it serve your community? How will it resonate? Look at the analytics (follower growth/loss, engagement growth/dip, sentiment) behind past examples (yours and other brands) to understand if this is the right choice for you.
2. People Will Be Either Angry or Enthused
There is a perception that people will either hate your brand for “taking a stand” or feel overjoyed. The truth is somewhere in between. A lot of places in between, actually.
Key Takeaways for Social Marketers: Three of the top five emotional reactions people have to brands taking a stand are positive. As the #BrandsGetReal report states, “Emotion is a top driver of building long-term loyalty, and what brands say online can sway whether or not their communities get involved, too. Again, brands have a reason to speak out: the chances of encouraging someone toward purchase are higher than pushing him or her away.”
Here’s the bottom line for social marketers: There is a risk to posting political content, but it may not be as big a risk as you think. Which leads me to my next biggest myth…
3. The Reward Doesn’t Outweigh the Risk
Turns out, the reward DOES outweigh the risk.
Key Takeaways for Social Marketers: On social media, brands face more rewards than risks when speaking their minds. Even when brands do risk lost sales, the chances of earning greater revenue are higher. While 17% of respondents have joined a product boycott as a result of a brand speaking out on social, 24% have gone on to purchase a product from that brand.
Overall, consumers’ most common reaction to brands speaking out on a social or political issue on social media is to do further research (36%).
Maybe even more important, people are more likely to post something themselves when they agree with what brands are saying on social media than when they oppose a stance, making this kind of activity a potential awareness driver for your brand.
Want to see the full study? Head here.
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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.