How to Create a Social Responsibility Strategy for Online Business

This post may contain affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using these links – at no extra cost for you. Please read my disclaimer here.

How do you stand out as an online business where every other business is doing something innovative to one-up their competitors? If we look at it pretty straightforwardly, then you have two approaches: 

  • Choose an unethical way and climb up the success ladder faster 
  • Go ethically and savour slow success

While success for each business would have different definitions, instilling trust among consumers still lies at the foundation of each business.

The former way could garner you faster results in terms of numbers. However, the latter will give you results after a while but it is more likely to stay for a long time too. 

Similarly, for businesses, customer loyalty will bring results. It is a slow process and most importantly–it needs a business to be responsible.

To be responsible means thinking about the community rather than just the customer. Businesses that work for the betterment of a community or environment are more likely to be trusted after all. 

77% of customers purchase from companies that are serving the world in some way or other. It is clear that if you want to stand out as a business, getting involved in some social responsibility is a must. 

It not only improves your credibility as a brand but also retains employees and increases customer loyalty. 

If you are unsure of the concept, this article will tell you about the steps to create your CSR strategy today that highlights social awareness and promotes sustainability. This will foster faith in the stakeholders and your consumers. 

However, before jumping directly to the ways of creating a CSR strategy, let us understand what exactly a CSR strategy is.

What is a social responsibility strategy?

As you may now know that having a CSR strategy makes you stand out from other businesses as it helps customers to trust your brand. However, a strategy that actually garners you the results you want, needs effort. 

How to create a Social Responsibility Strategy

In simple terms, a CSR is a comprehensive plan that focuses on specific areas, program design, communication, promotion and evaluation processes.

Some brands choose to make their strategy public while some release an annual corporate responsibility report that shows what a CSR can look like. 

Nestle’s Creating Shared Value which includes long-term goals for individuals and families is a perfect example of an effective CSR strategy. 

The key, however, is not simply to build a strategy, you also need to monitor it at regular intervals and keep making changes, if need be. 

In this article, we will look at how can you create a social responsibility strategy for your business in five simple steps. So let’s jump right into it.

5 ways to create a social responsibility strategy for your business

Creating a CSR requires you to know what your customers value, and what the stakeholders value and then create a program considering these values. Keep the following points in mind while creating a CSR strategy. 

Build a strategy surrounding the company’s core values 

You want to build a strategy around your strengths, right? For instance, you are a company that values employees’ health.

victor-0NJ9urGXrIg-unsplash

One way to go about creating a CSR activity is to partner with a fitness brand or agency and support the employees in their fitness journey. This will not only support employees in their fitness journey but also improve customer visibility. 

The key benefit of building a strategy around something you already value as a company is that it will align with your value and can be a win-win for both the company and the community partners. 

However, for that to happen, you should first be aware of your business goals. If not, consider asking the following questions:

  • What is/are the core values of this company?
  • Could there be a social program or an initiative surrounding these values?
  • If so, will it generate revenue? How? 
  • What do the employees want most? 
  • Can a social program or an initiative provide the employees what they’re looking for?

Once you have clarity on the business goals, you get one step closer to building a CSR strategy for your business. 

Remember- an effective CSR strategy is an apt balance between a company's values and environmental/social returns. It is up to you to use this as an opportunity-seeking strategy or a risk mitigation strategy. 

Develop initiatives that make your employees proud 

Employees are the biggest asset to a company, wouldn't you agree? 

Develop initiatives that make your employees proud

Not just employees, but even candidates looking for new job roles prefer working with a company that has a CSR strategy in place.

It makes them trust the company's vision and encourages them to work harder for a company that works with a bigger purpose. After all, a solid purpose is preferred over a solid paycheque by most today. 

About 70% of employees state that they would not work with a company that lacks a strong purpose. However, beware. Your engagement in CSR must be for the right reasons. 

If your sole purpose is to create a reputation in minds of customers and employees, then it will certainly not last. People will see through the facade which will badly affect your reputation. 

An effective CSR strategy boosts employee engagement which further helps in attracting new talent. After all, who wouldn’t want to work in a place with an exceptional employee engagement rate?

Hence, an effective social responsibility strategy is important in retaining existing employees since they are likely to work for a longer period. 

Take your customers’ issues into account 

Do consumers care about whether or not you are associated with social activity? 

If you don't already know, the answer is a resounding 'yes'. Consumers also look for brands that don't just cater to their needs but that think for the larger community

The consumer is the king of the market and we need to cater to their needs to succeed. Today, consumers are more dynamic and reactive than ever.

For instance, if they find a brand misusing certain resource that poses a threat to the environment, they won't refrain from calling out the brand. With social media, this has become easier. 

Similarly, if a consumer finds a company supporting a social cause, he/she will also not refrain from praising it. It is important to take into account consumers' issues, what/who are they supporting, and whether your business values align with theirs.

If so, consumers are sure to reward you with loyalty by making donations to the charities your company supports or by purchasing products that provide some social benefit. 

So now it is not just you who is working towards these social deeds, but your customers as well. This give/take equation will eventually improve your conversion rates.  

Re-define the definition of CSR for your company 

What do you think makes for a good CSR strategy? Well, the primary benefits of a CSR strategy are as listed below

  • Has a positive influence on the community 
  • Generates revenue 
  • Increases customer loyalty 
  • Boosts employee engagement 
  • Helps in attracting the top talent 
  • Reduces employee turnover
  • Increases employee productivity

Usually, corporate social initiatives are categorized as environmental, human rights responsibility, philanthropic responsibility, and economic responsibility.

However, depending on your company's goals and values, you can merge any department ranging from HR to marketing to create a unique CSR strategy. 

Traditionally, good corporate citizenship is if a brand organizes annual giving programs, and marketing campaigns and puts in efforts to reduce using environmental issues.

While these efforts are valued, companies have become more innovative in how they want to be responsible. So, expand your definition of CSR and make it your own.

Create a flexible CSR plan 

Get ready to receive a rapid response to social movements and current events. If you think you’ve successfully created a CSR strategy and your job is done, then you could never be more wrong! 

tobias-weinhold-hXPomXrpUP0-unsplash

Even the best CSR plan may fail and require changing. This is why to be sustainable, you need to create a flexible plan.

A plan that could adapt to changes. You may require to redirect time investments, modify budgets and may need to partner up with new programs or even adjust the existing ones. 

If you are adaptive to your CSR strategy, you will remain relatable and updated.  

Well, so stay updated with the current fairs, check if you can somehow link it to your values and take a CSR initiative. Although consumers trust a brand affiliated with an NGO or a charitable trust, relatability is not something to compromise. 

Wrapping up creating a social responsibility strategy for online business 

Taking social responsibility as a business will undoubtedly instill trust among employees, customers, and stakeholders. However, do not forget that you need to build a strategy that is sustainable yet strategic.

You want to be known as a responsible corporate but you also need to ensure the CSR activities are generating revenue. 

If done well, CSR programs have the potential to bring value to your business and society. Also, do not forget to measure the ROI of these initiatives and make amends if required. 

So, keep these five steps into account while designing a CSR strategy and keep measuring its ROI from time to time.  

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}