Socially conscious brands have an edge with consumers according to study

Consumers hold the monetary power that brands rely on. But while staying silent may seem like the safer bet, a study has shown that there is more monetary value -- for brands -- in speaking up.

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Social media management company Sprout Social has released its "Championing Change in the Age of Social Media" report.

It surveyed over 1,000 people in the US to discover how they wanted brands to communicate their positions, and engage in conversations on political and social issues.

The report finds two-thirds of consumers say that it is important for brands to take public stands on social and political issues like immigration, civil rights and race relations. Over half are happy for this to happen across social media channels.

It uncovered that a third more liberals (78 percent) want brands to voice their company's stances on socio-political issues than do conservatives (52 percent) -- no matter where their interests fall.

Brands' voices appear most credible when an issue directly impacts their customers (47 percent), employees (40 percent), or business operations (31 percent) according to the report.

Socially conscious brands have an edge with consumers according to study ZDNet
Sprout Social

Consumers' most common emotional reactions to brands taking a stand on social tended to be positive. The report showed that people will spread the word when they agree, but will not take action when they disagree with the stand.

Socially conscious brands have an edge with consumers according to study ZDNet
Sprout Social

If consumers' personal beliefs align with what brands are saying, 28 percent will publicly praise a company. However, when individuals disagree with a brand's stance, only 20 percent will publicly criticize the company.

Brands can not change minds of consumers -- but they can effect change. Two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents say posts from brands rarely, or never influence their opinions on social issues.

Respondents believe that brands are more effective on social media when they announce donations to specific causes (39 percent), and encourage followers to take specific steps to support causes (37 percent), such as participating in events or making their own donations.

Interestingly, 78 percent of respondents who self-identify as liberal want brands to take a stand, while about half (52 percent) of respondents who self-identify as conservative feel the same way.

Likewise, 82 percent of liberals feel brands are credible when taking stands, compared to just 46 percent of conservatives.

Around 80 percent of liberals think it is important for brands to take stands on social media, compared to 39 percent of conservatives. Interestingly, five percent of liberals are not receptive to social or political communication on any channel, compared to 19 percent of conservatives.

Andrew Caravella, VP of Strategy and Brand Engagement at Sprout Social said: " People want to feel socially and politically connected to the brands they support -- and while vocalizing opinions may drive away some customers, it will ultimately engender greater loyalty and enthusiasm from people who agree."

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