In a recent post, we discussed ways to maintain your business’ social media presence during a crisis. Our final tip was to strive to connect with your audience. As stay-at-home orders ease in many parts of the country, we want to encourage companies to continue to connect through a focus on community engagement.
COVID-19 made a huge impact on businesses in all industries. While some are seeing an uptick in need for their products and services, the vast majority are seeing a decline. Regardless of industry, small businesses have been hit especially hard. As things slowly return to a sense of normalcy, businesses can ease out of survival mode and refocus their commitment to community growth and engagement. If your business is looking to strengthen its roots in your community and deepen brand loyalty with customers, read on to learn how this tactic can help your business and how to implement it into your marketing strategy.
Why Community Engagement Matters
There are many benefits to taking an active role in your community. First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do. Giving back strengthens communities while deepening relationships and loyalties. From a PR perspective, it can also provide an important touchpoint with your customers and prospects, as local media love to tell stories of businesses doing good within their community. Depending on the methods you use to engage your community, other businesses or individuals may reciprocate or even share about those efforts.
Community engagement can also help your bottom line. Millennials – who have more than $200 billion in buying power – are 50% more likely to purchase from a brand that supports a cause according to Frontify. Forbes reports that 82% of consumers consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) before buying/using a product or service. People want to support businesses that do good and stand for something other than their own profit.
How to Create a Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy
Many small businesses are already actively involved in the community. They sponsor Little League teams, donate items for silent auctions, and host fundraising events for local charities. However, companies often lack an overall strategy for community engagement. Creating a community engagement plan can not only help you find a cohesive voice in your CSR efforts, but it can also help make a greater impact.
When it comes to getting engaged in your community, consider these points while shaping your CSR strategy.
- Be authentic – Know your brand and your mission. Choose organizations to support and tactics to implement that ring true for your business. That can be through your industry, or through values (such as a farm-to-table restaurant supporting local agriculture initiatives) or through relationships (such as a company that supports cancer research after an employee is affected).
- Know your customer – Understanding your customer and what matters to them is a great guidepost when choosing how to engage with your community. Connect with them and learn what they care about.
- Diversify your offering – A good community engagement strategy is about more than just donating money. You can also donate time, product, or services to show some sweat-equity commitment to causes.
- Involve your employees – Utilize the time and skills of your workforce to give back to your community. Studies show that 70% of employees believe that volunteer opportunities boost morale more than happy hours.
- Create relationships – Partner with a nonprofit that authentically fits with your business. You may choose to support them for a specific period of time, but it might be better to support indefinitely. When consumers see you continually supporting a single organization or cause, it allows them to tie the cause back to your business more easily. They are also more likely to see your efforts as an authentic connection, and not a publicity play.
- Tell your story – Don’t be afraid to broadcast your community engagement efforts. Not only will it bring awareness to your brand and mission, but also it will bring awareness to your cause and any partner organizations.
We believe all businesses need a corporate social responsibility program for the benefit of their community. In fact, we put our money where our mouth is. Our community engagement program – Fuelanthropic – helps nonprofits with their marketing efforts and provides every employee 40 hours of paid time-off per year to support the causes they believe in.
If you are interested in learning more about Fuelanthropic or how our PR team can help build and spread awareness about your CSR strategy, contact us today.