Why Social Responsibility in Marketing Matters

social responsibility in marketing

Sustainability, business transparency and employee security – these are just some examples of how businesses operate with social responsibility in mind. 

In the modern world, business operations are moving beyond the traditional value proposition of offering quality products at an affordable price. A global study shows that 86% of consumers believe that companies should take a stand for social issues. Out of this number, more than half stated that they were ‘very likely’ to purchase a product based on a company’s commitment to exercise social responsibilities. Today’s consumers (especially millennials) are more conscious of the brands they support. 

For this reason, businesses, organizations and communities can all experience the benefits of when social responsibility becomes part of a company’s business model. 

social responsibility best practices

What is Social Responsibility?

From a business standpoint, social responsibility can take on many forms. It is the act of demonstrating and operating in the best interests of their environment and society. 

It’s common for businesses to add policies that result in an ethical balance of profitability while supporting worthy causes and their community as a whole. Some examples of social responsibility in action include:

  1. A company donating some of its sales proceeds to a worthy cause. 
  2. Adjusting operating practices to encourage environmental sustainability. 
  3. Creating policies that support employees and workers in the company. 

One thing worthy of mentioning is that these efforts are more effective when it is done proactively. This means establishing policies and mandates voluntarily. 

social responsibility at work

How to Demonstrate Social Responsibility in your Marketing

With a growing number of consumers advocating for more action in social responsibility from businesses, communicating your efforts to your audience is an effective way in involving them with your efforts. 

Whatever cause or organization you are supporting, there are a few ways to effectively mention this in your marketing. Here are a few examples of demonstrating social responsibility in your current marketing efforts:

  • Make your Team your Biggest Ambassadors: Your employees may have different roles in your organization, but they play a massive part in how your organization is perceived to the public. They are your ambassadors and honest representatives in the digital world, especially on social media. Ensure the efforts in social responsibility is understood by your team members. Most importantly, it’s essential that they support the efforts you’re making. Be open to their feedback and if necessary, adjust your efforts to ensure you get the full backing of your team.
  • Demonstrate Transparency in your Message: Illustrate your efforts in a thoughtful, clear and detailed manner. Making mention of how you demonstrate social responsibility isn’t enough. Consumers can call this out as preformative activism or allyship (when the purpose of activism is done to benefit the social capital of your company rather than the cause).

For instance, if you’ve pledged to donate proceeds of sales to a cause, it’s a good idea to indicate the amount your business is donating and what organization you are supporting. 

  • Be Receptive to Feedback: Marketing channels like social media have given more power to consumers. Your digital audience is no longer passive. Be receptive to the real-time feedback you might receive regarding your social responsibility efforts. 

Make note of any constructive criticism or concerns you receive and use it as a tool to refine your approach. Engage in these conversations and acknowledge the feedback you’re receiving. 

Companies who Exercise Social Responsibility

We value assisting other businesses that demonstrate a strong sense of social responsibility. These companies support communities, causes and movements in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples of companies that put social responsibility to work in their operations:

fairware

Fairware: Fairware is known for sourcing sustainable and ethically responsible promotional products. Their entire service offering supports environmental efforts, but they further their work in social responsibility by also practising the following:

  • Becoming a Certified Living Wage Employer, making the long-term commitment to reduce poverty and increase economic prosperity in their community.
  • Making the long-term commitment to support Vancouver Street Soccer League through donations, product and volunteer hours. 
  • Becoming a Certified B Corporation, which furthers their long-term commitment to make a positive impact on their workers, community, environment and customers. 

lunapads

Lunapads (Now Rebranded as Aisle): Aisle offers high-quality undergarments, pads/liners and cups that are reusable and environmentally more sustainable than traditional period products. Aside from being environmentally sound, they also highlight body and gender inclusion in their product line. Aside from their products, they further their commitment with the creation of Dignity Projects, which aims to address women’s issues globally:

  • Lunapads mentored the social enterprise, AFRIpads, which supports menstrual and reproductive health, education and employment in Uganda. 
  • It also donates products to support individuals in transition shelters and community housing as the leading corporate donor to United Way’s, Period Promise. 
  • They have also created a partnership with Native Youth Sexual Health Network, which is an indigenous, youth-run organization that provides culturally safe sex-ed. Lunapads has provided product donations to support birth workers, rights of passage ceremonies and workshops. 
  • Lunapads is also a Certified B Corporation. 

hippie snacks

Hippie Snacks: Hippie Snacks is a BC-based company that offers organic and natural snack food products. They have expanded their product offerings, providing high-quality snacks that focus on minimal processing. As Canada’s Founding Certified B Corporations, this company has taken their commitment further, doing the following to uphold their social responsibility:

  • Donating 5% of their total revenue to community projects that positively impact the environment and youth. 
  • Volunteering to their community with money and product donations. 
  • Supporting food banks like Quest, Friends in Need and City Reach Care Society. 
  • Enhancing the employee experience with various additional employee benefits. 

junxion strategy

Junxion Strategy: Junxion Strategy can be considered the “spark” that encourages companies to take on social responsible policies. This Certified B Corp has worked with a multitude of global brands, creating new mandates and policies that allow them to become model corporate citizens. Some of their efforts include:

  • Supporting the roll-out of UN’s Principles of Responsible Banking. 
  • Launching Indigo’s environmental paper policy. 

great bear rainforest essential oils

Great Bear Rainforest Essential Oils: Great Bear Essential Oils offers sustainably harvested essential oils gathered from Conifers found in the Great Bear Rainforest. It is also a social enterprise, supported by the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative. Their business operations work to support the community through the following:

  • Creating long-term and sustainable employment for individuals with limited opportunities in remote communities. 
  • Enhance community prosperity and environmental protection of the Great Bear Rainforest. 
  • Supporting other project partners including nunumus management, Metlakatla Stewardship Society and Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative. 

At Out-Smarts, we put great value in walking the talk. Aside from supporting organizations like the ones mentioned above, our small team makes donations each month to local non-profit organizations. We also provide pro bono work, sharing our knowledge to new entrepreneurs through programs and initiatives like the RADIUS SFU program. These are just some examples that illustrate the steps we are taking in our efforts to uphold our social responsibilities. 

In a world that is going through climate change, a global pandemic and civil injustice, we encourage businesses to do their part in contributing to the greater good. We love working with businesses whose values in social responsibility align with ours! Contact our team and discover how we can elevate your reach and presence in the digital arena with our consciously crafted strategies. We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Social Media Tips on Communicating Effectively during COVID-19

social media tips during covid-19

We mentioned general tips in our recent blog post and today we’re listing specific social media tips for communicating effectively on these platforms at this time. 

While some Provinces in Canada slowly open businesses and public areas, clear and transparent communication is essential for businesses as we adapt to this “new normal.” One of the easiest and most convenient ways to communicate effectively with your customers and community during COVID-19 is through social media.

Studies show that only a quarter of businesses have a crisis plan; the rest either have an out-dated crisis response strategy or don’t have a plan in place. Although many businesses are navigating through these unprecedented times without a concrete plan, there are ways that you can still communicate effectively with customers.

With more users glued to their devices, social media makes it easier for you to reach a captive audience.

The social media tips we’re providing today touch on different tactics that can be used specifically to help you do so effectively.

Our Social Media Tips on Announcing Re-opening Plans Clearly

While some communities are lifting their restrictions and businesses are opening up, it’s still essential to set appropriate expectations and to not mislead in any way.

As the situation changes day-by-day, new policies and plans can affect the way you operate as a business. Be transparent with your audience so that you can pivot quickly without having to mitigate questions or potential frustrations with customers.  

If your business has been given clearance to operate, now is not the time to announce that you’ll be running business “as usual” – it’s going to be awhile before we are really all back to business as usual. 

Get as much information regarding new operating guidelines as possible, and ensure that these have been put in place before publicly announcing anything. Keep in mind that these plans are not set in stone – things can change as you monitor the current situation. 

Keep your Social Media Channels Aligned 

social media aligned

You may have the same people following you on different social media platforms. For this reason, keeping all of your social media channels up-to-date with a coherent message is a must. If you are active on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, it’s wise to keep all of these social channels aligned, highlighting similar information with the same key messages to avoid any confusion. 

Update Your Social Media Profiles With Pertinent Information

canva template useful for covid-19

Here are some specific ways you can highlight the information that counts on your social media profiles:

  • Create and upload new cover images that highlight your current status (Canva is a great tool for creating beautiful custom images like this on the fly). 
  • Update your about sections and bios to emphasize new ways of operating. 
  • Include a link to your website in your bios or update your current link to direct people to your online store, online calendar or booking schedule if you are pivoting to work from home or using a virtual business model.

Social Media Content Curation

Your social media profiles aren’t the only elements you should consider updating. The way you approach social media content curation should also be different to what you have done in the past. It’s paramount that you continue to interact, share and have conversations with your community on these channels:

content curation during covid-19

  • Try to make be as upbeat and positive as possible in your posts, comments and replies
  • Remain factual and stay on topic with your content
  • Be strategic in your approach without adding unnecessary noise
  • Remember, that this has affected every aspect of life, leaving many people in shock so communicate with empathy.

Because the life cycle of timeline posts is quite short, it’s wise to pin the post that offers the most pertinent information to the top of your page or profile, so that followers can easily access the information that counts.

Streamlining your Approach on Specific Social Channels

The social media tips mentioned above apply to all social channels. However, there are specific measures you can take to streamline your process on Facebook and Instagram. 

With more than 2 billion users on Facebook and over 100 million users on Instagram, it’s wise to tailor your approach, and this doesn’t just involve keeping your profiles up-to-date. 

facebook mesenger function

Optimizing Your Facebook Page to Handle the Current Times

Facebook Messages

Aside from email or a chat function on your website, prospective customers or engaged users will use Facebook to reach out to you directly. This means having to field inquiries beyond your usual operating hours and when you or your team are busy doing other things. 

  • Provide prompt follow-ups by setting up your Facebook messages to respond to FAQ’s and/or immediately respond when you are offline. Not only will this minimise the amount of time spent to manage online inquiries but it will also provide your audience with a better customer experience. 

Custom Facebook Call-To-Action Buttons

  • On Facebook customize your Call-to-Action Button (the one that appears to the right below your cover image) to emphasize the action you want customers to take right now i.e. Shop Online or Sign Up (to receive email notifications).

Make It Easy For Customers To Shop on Facebook

  • Facebook and Instagram offer shopping solutions that allow you to showcase your wares on these platforms and integrate them with your online store. Doing so makes it easier for your followers to shop with you straight from their favourite platforms.

Social Media Ads To Reach More People in Your Community

  • It might be beneficial to broadcast business updates to a wider audience or to reach more people in your local community by using Facebook Ads. 

instagram during covid-19

Creating a Sense of Community Through Instagram

The approach to Instagram differs from Facebook in many ways. If your target audience is younger, you can use this platform as a way to generate a sense of community with your audience (in addition to communicating updates about your business). 

  • Use the stories function to bring people together – tagging key members of your audience.
  • Don’t forget to use the Instagram stickers (like “Stay at Home”) to highlight your message if these are relevant to your business.
  • If you have any new announcements to broadcast to your audience, you can do so easily by going Live on your stories too. 
  • Don’t forget to use any appropriate hashtags on your timeline posts so that your content is discoverable by people within your community too. 

Our Last Thoughts

COVID-19 is an unprecedented time that is new to communities, businesses, and people alike. There is no formal “play book” to navigate through this smoothly. One of the best social media tips we can offer is this – keep your audience informed sensitively, mindfully and educationally. 

While the current situation may mean the slowing down of usual business operations, use this free time to take stock. Revisit your existing content strategy to review your campaigns, content and scheduled posts. Only continue with content that is sensitive and relevant and don’t take advantage of the situation in any way. 

Look for ways to support your community and take this opportunity to develop new relationships one-on-one on social media. It may be some time before we see life returning to normal, but businesses and communities can create positive connections, lifting people up during an uncertain time. 

Our business has seen the effects of this pandemic on our clients, partners and those we support, and we are here to provide support, guidance, and insights beyond social media tips where we can. Contact our team to learn more about how we can help you navigate and communicate effectively with your audience at this time. 

Optimizing Blog Posts or Website Content

optimizing blog posts

They say content is king and this statement rings true when keeping your website fresh and up-to-date. Optimizing blog posts or website content can effectively boost the digital performance of your site. It can also enhance your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) resulting in more of your target audience finding you online.

According to HubSpot, businesses who consistently provide new content on their website (in the form of blogs) are 13 times more likely to experience a positive return-on-investment with their efforts. 

Optimizing blog posts can be done in three easy steps. We offer the following guidelines  for our own clients and find them applicable not only for posts, but for website content too!

Keep these tips in mind, not only when writing your next blog post, but also when you’re crafting your overall content strategy.  

Step One: Optimizing Blog Posts Begins with Choosing One to Two Keywords

This first step may be self-explanatory. You’d be surprised that there is a strategy behind choosing the right keywords for your blog. 

If you’d like users to discover your content on SERPs (search engine results pages), using keyword analysis tools can narrow down what potential keywords work best – SEM Rush and The Hoth, are great places to start. 

Google is another great platform to source potential keywords. Google Ads allows you to generate keyword research reports, allowing you to pull keywords that yield a good search volume and low competition. 

Google Search Console’s performance tab can also provide a long list of keywords that are relevant to your site. Be sure to choose ones that have a high impression count and mid-level page placement.

Another great tool to help you explore search terms is Google Trends. Using it allows you to compare top search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages to see how they perform over time.

Step Two: Strategically using your Keywords when Writing Your Blog

A good blog post will give readers a clear indication of the topic within the first few lines.

With this in mind, it’s ideal to include your keyword in the title, first paragraph and headings/subheadings of your post. 

It’s also ideal to include it in the post’s meta-title and meta-description. SEO has changed to not include META descriptions as a ranking factor, but META Titles are super important. 

While the META involves pieces of code that can’t be seen by the user, it can work with search engines, making your posts discoverable on search engine result pages. 

META descriptions are important too but from a different perspective – they are the first elements users will see and can encourage a higher click-through. 

It might be tempting to use your keywords generously in your blog post (after all, you want to make sure that it shows up on relevant search results, right?), but this approach can be counter-intuitive. We recommend using your keyword or term no more than five times throughout your post. Remember that you are writing for people first and not simply for SEO.

Length can also play a factor in blog post optimization. It’s ideal to keep your posts at around 1000-2000 words. 

Once you have a majority of your post written and laid out, don’t forget to edit what you’ve written for clarity! Readability can also play a factor in performance. Keep your sentences short and concise and use an active voice.

You can also improve the readability of your content by separating each idea into keyword-optimized headers. This allows readers to easily scan your content without having to read your post’s entirety. 

Step Three: Add Links and Images to Further Optimize your Blog Post

The last step to optimizing blog posts is to add links that relate closely to the topic you are discussing. Include links to both external and internal sites where applicable. 

Don’t forget that the link you generate for the blog itself should also clearly illustrate the main topic of your post. Sites like WordPress generate this automatically, but we recommend manually checking the URL link to ensure it captures relevant content and that it’s not too long. 

Because many users are visual readers, it’s also important to include images throughout your post. You can source free, royalty-free images through websites like Unsplash and Pexels. Don’t forget to add alt tags to your images. Alt tags are great for improving accessibility so users know what the image is about. . While this approach isn’t conducive to SEO, these do make your site more accessible which is an important rank factor. 

The size of your image also plays a role on page performance. Large image files can slow down your load time and ultimately affect the user experience. For this reason, it’s essential to compress any images you may want to use for your post. The website, Tiny.jpg is a great resource for doing this easily. 

Last Tip: Sharing your Fully Optimized Blog Post

What good would a blog post be if you have no users to read it?!

Top-of-the-funnel tactics like sharing through social media, email marketing and your Google My Business page are great ways to drive traffic to your post. You can lengthen the  “promotional window” by pulling different themes covered on your blog and repurpose them into bite-sized content pieces.

Don’t forget to measure the performance of your blog post by analyzing the traffic that comes through too!

You can do this by generating custom UTM parameters around your post URL, which will generate a unique link that you can share on different marketing channels. You can then analyze data generated from this URL, on Google Analytics.  

Take your strategy a step further by getting your link added to relevant pages or posts of other websites. Links back from related, third party sites that have a strong Page Rank (especially if higher than yours) will help improve SEO and increase the likelihood of your content getting found.

If you’d like to deepen your strategy further, there are a variety of different website plug-ins that assist in scanning your post for SEO performance. These plug-ins give you clear recommendations on how to improve its quality. YOAST is one of our favourite plug-ins to use for WordPress. 

By keeping these three steps in mind, you can create rich, relevant, and purposeful content on your website. It will ultimately further your company’s branding, messaging, and reputation. 

If you have any questions or would like to find new ways to enhance your content marketing strategy, we’re always here to help! Don’t be afraid to contact our team

 

Netex Case Study – E-Commerce Website Development, SEO, Search Console, Google Analytics

Background

Out-Smarts worked with Netex Sport Netting Systems to develop a custom new WordPress e-commerce website, complete with SEO, E-Commerce, Search Console Setup, and Google Analytics. We teamed up with our design partners Indalma Creative in Langley for the custom site design.

About Netex Netting

Netex began in 1997 by bringing six generations of net-building expertise to the sports netting industry. Mark, Netex’s founder, came from a long line of commercial fishermen that taught him that the strength of a net is a combination of factors. It’s about the materials you use, and it’s also about the way you construct and install the nets.

They offer clients a complete engineering design, supply, and installation solution – using netting and net support structures that are stronger and more durable than other systems on the market. Due to the way Netex designs their systems, they are the most low-maintenance system on the market with the widest available spans between poles. You’ll find their products on the field with Major and Minor League Baseball teams, on the training grounds of the Vancouver Whitecaps Major League Soccer (MLS) team, and on golf courses around the world.

E-Commerce Website Development and SEO Services

Netex Netting E-Commerce Ready Website
Netex Netting needed a modern, comprehensive e-commerce website to accommodate their rapidly growing enterprise. They were quickly expanding to a global company with clients in the US, Australia and Japan. We worked with our design partners, Indalma Creative, to achieve a sleek new look to the site.

Netex grew from their origins of creating innovative netting solutions to offering clients a complete engineering design, supply, and installation solution for baseball, golf, and many other sports. They also sell sports turf, led sports lighting, and ground reinforcement grids products to name a few. Netex Sport Netting Systems knew they wanted to list their products on the website, but they weren’t sure yet if they wanted to sell them online. To tackle this unique situation we set them up with a fully customized e-commerce add on to the WordPress website using WooCommerce to showcase their products. One that gives them the option to sell them online at a later date.

In addition, their old site was a .ca domain, and this no longer reflected their global customer base. We smoothly transferred the domain to a .com one, to reflect their clients around the world, including Japan, Korea, the USA, and Australia.

The complete custom website overhaul included custom WordPress site design and development, SEO services (META review, keyword research and mapping, update SEO foundations and framework, crawl fixing), Google Analytics set up (traffic reporting, conversion tracking and analysis), and consulting services. The result was a successful site launch with a smooth workflow beginning to end.

In The Customer’s Words

Netex Sport Netting Systems Logo

“You all make a great team and it shows in the finished product. Mhairi’s technical know-how has come to be noticed and I can’t say enough about her willingness to help out on any requests that came up along the way. I can’t thank Mhairi and the Out-Smarts Marketing team enough. I am very proud of everyone’s efforts and can’t say enough about this fine website which is already showing very well. We are getting many calls from the site and some are already great projects in the pipeline.”

Why We Loved this Work

Working with a team that is at the top of their game is always a pleasure, but Mark’s journey to becoming an industry leader is truly an inspiring one. He took his family’s knowledge that came from six generations of fishermen to build a strong standard into the new industry of sports netting. Through his knowledge and determination, he’s built a strong reputation in the netting industry through focusing on hand-knotted craftsmanship.

Communicate - Person Communicating Digitally

How To Effectively Communicate During the COVID-19 Crisis – Tips For Small Businesses

With the new reality of social distancing and isolation comes the challenge for small business owners wondering how to use your digital platforms to effectively communicate with your customers and clients. The last few weeks have been a challenging time for all small businesses – this is certainly the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced at Out-Smarts and judging by the calls we have been fielding from clients and our community asking about what they should communicate, how they should communicate and how to pivot to doing more business online, we are not alone.

So today I am sharing some of the wisdom and guidance we have been offering our customers when they ask about what and how to communicate effectively in the face of COVID-19.

What Small Businesses Should Communicate Around Covid19

Stick to the Facts -it is important to stick to the facts as they pertain to your business and customers. Determine what your community really needs to know from you right now and communicate only those important points that relate to your business. The emphasis should be on containment and mitigation procedures, new means of operating and on supporting your community.

Outline Your Processes – use your digital channels (email, blog, website are best) to tell your customers about the processes you have in place to ensure their safety and that of your staff. This should include information on social distancing measures, new hygiene practises that you have put in place as well as ways that your customers can support your efforts to keep them safe. Outline the specific steps you are taking regarding closures and when you hope to be operational. If you have new ways of doing business tell your customers about them – for example how to book a meeting with you online, link to your online store, tell them about new payment processes or delivery options.

Hours Of Operation – if you have new hours of operation, you should post them on your website and digital media too. Remember to update any directory listings such as Google My Business with this information as well.

Contact Information – if you have a new way for people to get in touch with you like a new phone number or email address tell people about that and encourage them to use these means to get in touch should they wish to do so. Post this on your website and social channels.

Provide Regular Updates – if things change as your situation evolves, communicate these changes to your customers.

How Small Businesses Should Communicate During the Pandemic

Keep Calm –  we are all worried and concerned about our current situation, don’t add to that anxiety in any way. Keep your tone professional, communicate with empathy and don’t sensationalize in any way.

Be Concise and Clear – this is not the time to write wordy communications that waffle and make it hard for readers to understand so get the point and keep your communications short and sweet.

Appreciation – remind your customers how much they mean to you and your business.

Show That You Care – recognize that we’re all facing challenging times and communicate with empathy.

Avoid Using Jargon – avoid using jargon or buzzwords that might confuse readers. Stick to layperson’s words and easy to understand terms.

Don’t Capitalize –  this goes without saying but do not take advantage of the situation in any way.

Avoid FULL CAPS – avoid adding to the anxiety by using too many capital letters in your text. You don’t want readers to feel like you are shouting at them.

Be optimistic not Alarmist – when posting to your social channels keep your messages as positive as possible and avoid causing needless worry or panic.

Watch Your Language – Don’t weigh in on things that have nothing to do with your business and be careful of the words you use to make sure they won’t be misconstrued. Avoid terms that bring to mind the things we are all missing – like hand in hand or get in touch.

Tone it Down – consider your tone – if your brand is edgy and irreverent you should consider toning that down a little, just for now.

Images – avoid using images of people together, shaking hands or hugging in your posts and content.

Other Important Considerations

Pause or Reframe – reevaluate marketing campaigns or initiatives that you had in the pipeline – depending on what they are it’s likely best to postpone them for now or to adapt them respectfully to the situation.

Reach Out Personally – personal email is a great way to stay in touch. Consider sending a personal email to your key connections, bearing in mind the points outlined above. Make these one to one communications and avoid sending bulk emails from your personal email. If you have a bigger list of people you want to get in touch with you should use (or get set up) with an email tool like MailChimp.

Stay Compliant – now is not the time to spam people so make sure that you take into account the laws governing privacy in your area such as the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation, CAN-SPAM Act in the US and the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe. For example – in Canada you can’t add a list of email addresses and start sending emails to people without their express permission unless they are current customers (in the last 2 years).

Keep Your Social Media up to date – pin a post to the top of your channels that communicates your key messages. Use your social platforms to keep customers up to date, informed and engaged. Consider using real-life stories to inspire and bring people together.

I hope that you find these tips valuable and that you can use them to take positive action for your business at this time. If you have any suggestions that you would like to share, please do so in the comments so that we can update this post.

We’re all facing an uphill challenge but remember that this too shall pass. Be well, stay strong and if we can support you in any way, please contact us.