Five strategies for promoting your ESG accomplishments on social media

Best Practices ESG Sustainability Reporting
  • September 28, 2021 | Danna Hileli
Five strategies for promoting your ESG accomplishments on social media

Five strategies for promoting your ESG accomplishments on social media

The demand for ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) and sustainable investing is being driven by factors like environmental risks, such as increased greenhouse gas emissions and natural disasters, as well as the rise of socially conscious investors. Millennials, a generation about to inherit $30 trillion over the next two decades, are becoming employees, buyers, and investors, and they’re taking note of corporations dedicated to sustainability and rewarding them with loyalty.

In response, the number of companies reporting on sustainability efforts and, according to the Center of Audit Quality, 95% of S&P 500 companies had detailed ESG information publicly available in 2021. With these reports comes a growing need for companies to communicate and market their ESG metrics, accomplishments, and goals beyond one document.

While many companies issue printed or digital reports, develop mini-sites, and communicate to their shareholders, social media provides a critical marketing tool companies can use to communicate ESG accomplishments, engage with stakeholders and the community, and build a positive brand reputation.

In this blog post, we’ll explore which social media channels should be prioritized and the strategies that can guide effective ESG marketing efforts.

First: Which social media channel should I use?

Over 70% of the United States population has at least one social media account, and the number of social network users in the U.S. is forecast to increase to approximately 243 million by 2025, making it imperative for brands to find strategic ways to communicate via social platforms.

The first step in developing a social media marketing strategy is determining the campaign goals, the audience, and which social media channels to use. This ensures you’ll get the best possible return for your posts.

Consider the goal
The end goal should always be the first consideration for marketers and it’s important to define the desired outcome up front. There are three primary goals to consider:

  • Increasing brand awareness, sharing accomplishments, and promoting stewardship
  • Lead generation
  • Selling products directly from social media

Consider the audience
Check your existing statistics to discover what's working if you're already using social media. You may use Facebook Page Insights, for example, to discover who is engaging with your material.

The Pew Research Center gives excellent data on the demographics of social media use if you're just getting started or want to investigate potential new channels. For example, the majority of Americans claim they use YouTube and Facebook, while individuals under 30 are more likely to use Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Using this data and information, companies can make a shortlist of the best channels for the target audience.

Consider the channel itself
With plenty of social media channels to choose from, it’s critical to determine which platforms are most suitable for your content and desired outcome.

  • Facebook remains the most prominent social media platform for B2C and B2B marketers and, with over 2 billion users worldwide every month, it’s the most popular social network. In 2018, there were 80 million small and medium sized businesses using Facebook Pages and over 6 million using the advertising platform.
  • LinkedIn has evolved from a resume and job search platform to a social network for professionals to the most popular platform for B2B marketers. HubSpot found that LinkedIn was almost 3 times more effective for generating leads than both Twitter and Facebook.
  • YouTube is used by over two billion people, making it the second most popular social media channel, the second largest search engine after Google, and one of the largest sources of user-generated content online. YouTube content can be used to promote company culture, tutorials, and demonstrations.
  • With over one billion users, Instagram has overtaken established channels like Twitter and LinkedIn and is best used for building brand reputation. Instagram is a mobile visual app, so it’s important to post high-quality photos and videos that showcase brand value through the use of stories and reels.
  • Unlike other channels, Twitter limits each tweet to 280 characters that are designed to capture user attention in a fast-paced newsfeed format. Twitter is ideal for building industry authority, real-time updates, sharing thoughts, asking questions, creating polls, and promoting events and web content.

TikTok, a platform that allows people to see behind the scenes of your business and engage in viral trends, and Reddit, which can be used for audience or content research and interaction with niche audiences, are two other platforms to consider.

During this phase, don’t forget to consider your budget and skills. Ask:

  • How many channels can I manage within my budget?
  • Do I have the right skill set to create the content for these channels?

Now that you’ve defined the goal, the audience, the channel to use, and your budget, it’s time to consider strategies that will drive engagement.

Second: What content strategies should I use?

Your company's content marketing tactics, from what you post to how you distribute it, can make or break your social media success. Customers value blogs that are informative, well-researched, and personalized.

Tell a story
People are wired for stories, and it has been proved that narrative performs better on social media. Finding and telling the stories behind your ESG actions can make for interesting social media material. Your content will perform best on social media by bringing the human element to the forefront with stories that showcase positive KPIs, whether it's a new volunteer effort established by one of your employees or a positive environmental impact your company made.

Emphasize value
Many investors believe that in order to scale a long-term ESG strategy, they must forgo certain returns. This erroneous thinking is not only harmful to the adoption of ESG, but it is also false!

According to an S&P Global analysis from 2021, 19 of the 26 ESG exchange-traded funds and mutual funds with at least $250 million in assets under management increased by 27.3% to 55%, beating the S&P 500 index's 27.1% increase.

Make a point of emphasizing and highlighting the benefits of ESG, whether it's an increase in interest from investors, profit growth, happier employees, or a strong leadership team.

Use video
Because video has been shown to be the most engaging content type on social media, it's critical to include it in your social media strategy whenever possible. Companies can promote ESG programs, for example, by doing executive interviews on the topic, highlighting individuals who are making a difference in the ESG arena, or creating short, animated videos to highlight visual data outputs and accomplishments.

Create different posts for different channels
Every social media platform has its own approach to information presentation. Your audience’s level of engagement will depend on the effort you put in to tailoring your content to the platform's requirements. For example, on Facebook, you should provide information that is both instructive and compelling with headlines that elicit an emotional response from your audience. LinkedIn material, on the other hand, should be tailored to a professional audience and give value to their work lives.

Third: How should I promote my content?

Simply posting your material, no matter how fantastic it is, will not result in engagement. Here are two suggestions for promoting your work so that it is seen.

Use industry-specific hashtags
Hashtags give consumers search capabilities and allow anyone to access material by utilizing them. Using hashtags related to your sector to promote your posts is a terrific method to increase visibility. For example, in the investment industry, hashtags like #ESG, #sustainability, #CSR, #impinv, #climate, and many others may be useful to boost performance.

Use paid social media promotion
Depending on the channel, advertising on social media may be a low-cost option to reach individuals in your target demographic who don't currently follow you online. You may target investors, potential clients, and people who are interested in the same social issues using powerful targeting options. Paid advertising can extend the reach of your material and increase the number of people who see your ESG stories. At Goby, we use paid promotion for both brand awareness and lead generation goals.

Fourth: How can I drive action & engagement?

People may like, comment, share, and take action on social media, so it's not a stagnant platform. Respond to those who are commenting on your posts by reacting to or liking them and recognizing those who are sharing.

Calls to action
Remember what your social media campaign's goal was? This is where it starts to matter the most. Make sure to specify the desired outcome of your content as well as the next step you want your readers to take. Create posts with a noticeable call to action (CTA) that encourages readers to take action. It might be as basic as a CTA that directs the reader to your ESG report or a call to "Subscribe Now" to join up for an email blast.

Employee advocacy
Remember that social media isn't solely the domain and obligation of marketing. Every employee has the ability to help with your social media presence. Employees from all departments can contribute a unique viewpoint and depth of expertise to your social media content. Consider allowing a social takeover or encouraging your employees to share and comment on posts. They can also share the posts with their own social media networks to increase exposure.

Here, I’d like to give a huge shoutout to the team at Goby, who have been an instrumental part in the success of our social media efforts. We achieved this with a solid employee advocacy program, encouraging the involvement of the team and highlighting the brand and recruiting benefits of their advocacy. We also like to remind the team of the positive impact this has on their personal branding, enhancing their credibility and positioning themselves as SaaS & ESG experts.

Fifth: How do I measure success?

It's important to remember that a solid social media presence doesn't happen overnight. It takes time to figure out what your audience responds to, and there are measures companies can use to track social media success. While a marketer's true north is clicks, conversions, and ROI, there are several other metrics to consider in the social media arena.

Monitoring audience volume, while not the most significant measure, can illustrate the influence you're having on social media. The number of people talking about your brand is measured by its volume. Companies should track the amount of engagement on their posts and messages, as well as how many people are mentioning and tagging you on social media.

Another measurement of audience size is reach, which counts how far your content and message have traveled throughout social media and how many people have seen it. When your material appears in someone's news feed, it's called reach. Reach can be measured in three ways:

  • Organic reach measures the number of people who saw your post/tweet in their feed organically
  • Viral reach indicates how many people have seen your content as a result of social sharing
  • Paid reach measures the number of people who saw your content through a promoted social post

The most crucial social statistic is engagement. This metric tracks how people react to your brand and content across all social media platforms. The more engagement your posts have, the more likely they are to go viral. While it's tempting to think of these behaviors as one-time occurrences, they should be seen as indicative of long-term relationships with your target audience; high engagement means your audience trusts you.

When measuring engagement, pay attention to these metrics:

  • Likes & shares: liking and sharing are universal acts that audiences can use to show their appreciation for content across all social media platforms.
  • Audience growth: the number of followers you've accumulated over a period of time.
  • Followers/following ratio: your social media credibility is determined by your follow ratio. For example, if you follow 2,000 individuals but only 150 of them follow you, that is a negative follow ratio and may turn people off.

While marketing teams can manually manage these indicators, there are a plethora of automated ways and platforms for measuring and tracking social media success. No matter how you measure them, it’s important to have a process in place to improve the content, measure engagement, reach your goals, and tell your ESG story.

Danna Hileli

Danna is the VP of Marketing at Goby. She is responsible for development and execution of Goby's multichannel marketing strategy including both digital and traditional tactics, focused on long-term sustainable growth.

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