Sustainability has already proven to be not just a trendy movement, but an expectation for society that’s continuing to gain supporters day after day. Naturally, social media had to catch up.
Users on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram frequently express their concerns about the environment, urging companies take Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) more seriously. A whopping 73% have even gone as far as to demand that brands take action to ensure that they aren’t operating at the expense of the clean environment.
This rising demand for greener business practices has forced companies to rethink their social media strategies. Since the old ways don’t work anymore, it’s become clear that listening to what the eco-conscious consumers have to say is the first step to successfully meeting the expectations of sustainability for companies set forth today. The next step is to apply this knowledge to practice.
Below, find how to approach the second (and final) step so that your eco-friendly customers are engaged now more than ever before.
Be Transparent About Your Green Initiatives
No one likes to be fooled, let alone by companies claiming to be catalysts of change while barely doing the bare minimum. Current-day customers are savvy enough to spot greenwashing, and if they do, chances are any reputation as a business that’s committed to sustainability is going to be ruined for your brand.
To avoid this, consider being upfront with your followers. If all you did this year was helping the local community to raise funds for the elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka, don’t shy away from posting about it. Being transparent about your efforts goes a long way in establishing a real connection with your audience.
Delta shared an Instagram post this year about its switch to more fuel-efficient planes, one of the ways the airline aims to reduce its carbon footprint. The caption states that “you shouldn’t have to choose between seeing the world and saving the world.”
Show, Don’t Tell, How Your Company Minimizes its Carbon Footprint
Talk is cheap and so are empty claims to end world hunger and eradicate pollution by Monday. Instead, ponder the following — what carbon-minimizing things are you doing on a day-to-day basis that would resonate with your followers?
It can be that you’re shipping products by land in eco-friendly packaging or using recycled materials that your competitors fall short on. It can also be that you’ve renounced print marketing and have switched to digital marketing.
No matter what it is, naming activities aimed at demonstrating that you’re doing your part in preserving the environment is the right thing to do. Impossible Foods shared this memo on Instagram to show how each purchase of their meat-free products reduces global emissions, emphasizing how each customer counts.
Involve Your Customers in Reaching Sustainability Goals
You don’t have to do it all alone — your Instagram followers can also play a part in your sustainability mission and together you’re more likely to move mountains. Teamwork indeed makes the dream (and clean environment) work.
One way to involve your customers is to ask them for a short feedback-type picture or video you can post on your Instagram page. This user-generated content (UGC) is guaranteed to bring attention to your business and encourage others to make their contribution to sustainability goals too. After all, people trust other people more than they trust brands.
Outdoor gear and apparel brand Cotopaxi consistently showcases its dedication to fundraising for nonprofits that alleviate poverty and improve the human condition, as well as its sustainably-made products. One of the ways the brand does this is by promoting UGC from its biggest fans featuring their #GearForGood.
Partner with Businesses and Influencers Sharing Your Eco-Friendly Values
Apart from staying on top of the sustainability game yourself, it helps to have others on board. This form of social proof through influencer marketing or brand partnerships provides you with a powerful advantage that differentiates you from competitors that choose to be riding solo. Furthermore, existing fans of an influencer or another company will automatically be more inclined to trust and purchase from your brand if they see that your values align with that individual or other brand.
Once these partnerships are set in stone, feel free to post about them on social media. For better exposure, ask the other party to do the same. The ethical brand-ratings app that’s known as Good On You cracked the code early on; the company’s collaboration with Emma Watson was a hit since the celebrity has a loyal audience of almost 60 million people.
With Plastic Free July coming up, you can try to replicate this success by finding digital creators (through influencer discovery) or companies that would complement your brand on this day of inspiring your followers to rethink using plastic.
By now, you should be well aware of the power social media holds over customer purchasing decisions. It can very easily sway your followers from wanting to support you to blacklisting you if they catch a sign of greenwashing or any other non-trustworthy activity coming from you.
But it can also help you grow as a business that isn’t afraid to commit to operating more sustainably and that practices what it preaches. To fall under the second scenario and attract eco-friendly customers that would stick with you for the long run, contemplate implementing some of the Instagram-appropriate strategies mentioned in the article. The results won’t leave you waiting for long.
Torben Lonne is an entrepreneur, dad, scuba diver, and digital marketing geek. He is the co-founder of Divein.com, an online magazine for eco-friendly travelers.
Torben likes to write on the topics within his specialty and has been featured in media publications such as The Washington Post, Dell Technologies, Business.com, and Greenpeace to name a few.