Millennials today are passionate about social causes and are making their buying and employment decisions based on whether the organisations are socially responsible. With Millennials being the largest demographic in the workforce and the largest consumer group, it becomes essential for those who are eager to attract the right employees, and customers to highlight their commitment to social responsibility.
When organisations think about social responsibility they are often concerned about the time and financial investment that may be involved. However, the benefits far outweigh the investment obligations.
Some of the benefits of investing in social responsibility are:
- Differentiating the brand – as we continue to see an increase in competition within the various verticals, the one thing that can make a brand stand out is the way they are investing in their communities. Social responsibility not only helps the brand stand out but also creates a loyal following.
- Managing risk – with a focus on serving the community, organisations are able to empower their employees to rally around work that “does good.” This focus helps employees to make decisions that will be in alignment with the organisation’s expectations and will encourage them to continue building the organization’s reputation.
- Employee attraction and retention – the competition for getting and retaining excellent and highly-skilled team members who are committed to the goals of the organisation can be one of the most challenging for the Human Resources department in any organisation. Many of the available workers in the industry are looking for opportunities to work with organizations where there is an alignment in core values. An organization that is passionately pursuing a social cause will find that it attracts and retains employees that value that social cause.
- Customer attraction and retention – two metrics we constantly monitor in the affiliate industry are the New-to-File Numbers and the Customer Lifetime Value. We are constantly looking for ways to push up these numbers, and social responsibility is a good way to do this. Like possible employees, customers are constantly looking for organisations that are in alignment with their core values. Customers are often more forgiving of organizations when this core-value alignment exists, and are therefore more likely to stay with the organisation even when the organization may be weak in other aspects of its business.
A few examples of ways we can create a more socially responsible focus in the affiliate industry are working with brands, sourcing partners, and highlighting department or agency social responsibility.
Working with brands to highlight social responsibility
One of the simplest ways to increase our social currency in the industry is to create strategies that emphasise the work brands are already doing. If the brands we represent are B-Corps, then we can focus on the different ways the brand is investing in their communities, sourcing, or purchasing more responsibly.
We will be able to attract publisher partners who are passionate about those communities, and who usually have a loyal and committed following.
Looking for partners who are passionate about social responsibility
When recruiting partners into a program, we can look for social causes that the end-users are passionate about, and recruit partner-publishers who are also committed to those social causes. As the affiliate marketing industry becomes more saturated, it becomes even more crucial to focus on partners that are niche and are particularly positioned to reach the brand’s core market. Although we can look for partners at different levels of the funnel who are socially responsible, it becomes particularly important when recruiting content partners.
Highlighting social responsibility within a performance marketing agency
Showing social responsibility within a performance marketing agency can be particularly challenging because of the diverse client mix. However, agencies can choose to share research from their partner-brands, or partner-publishers to highlight their focus on working with socially responsible partners. Agencies can also choose to share particular social responsibility research findings from outside the industry, that may be useful or interesting to the partners they work with.
How affiliate managers can help to promote corporate social responsibility
Organisations are looking for ways to build their social capital and highlight social responsibility, and the affiliate industry is poised to help them amplify their reach.
As affiliate managers, our role is essential in managing the relationships with the different stakeholders. We are able to work with customer service departments to learn what the end-users are passionate about. We can then use the knowledge from customer service to create strategies that highlight how the brand is meeting that need. Then we are able to help the network of partner-publishers disseminate the information.
Successful uses of social responsibility in Affiliate Marketing
Warby Parker and customer loyalty
Warby Parker makes monthly donations to their worldwide partners through their Buy-a-Pair, Give-a-Pair program. They emphasise their commitment to doing good on their website and social media handles. This commitment to social good has resulted in customers that are loyal and are passionate about buying from them. Here are some of their customer reviews.
“I love that Warby Parker provides me with great, affordable glasses. The fact that they give back in a sustainable way seals the deal!”
“Great service and pricing, beautiful frames, and I like supporting businesses that give back to the community.”
“The personalised service, high-quality product, and social impact part of the company’s mission to give a pair of glasses to someone in need!”
Zappos and employee engagement
Zappos is an online retailer focused on providing the very best customer service experience and company culture. One of the ways they invest in their culture is through the Zappos for Good brand, which partners with nonprofits can provide resources to the less privileged.
Zappos has found that social causes have helped them by keeping items out of landfills, providing resources to those who need them, and increasing employee engagement and retention.
Linkedin and community leadership
As a social media platform focused on helping people build careers, Linkedin invests their social currency in “creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.” They provide coaching opportunities, engage in charitable-giving, and provide grants to nonprofits that support jobseekers. Linkedin is able to get more publicity for the platform by sharing its social impact successes. For example, Linkedin shares those job seekers who participated in the social impact programs in 2019 were “2.5% more likely to build a strong professional network,” which would increase the likelihood of building a meaningful career.
Linkedin’s focus on closing the “network gap” and helping less privileged individuals build strong professional networks have given them the opportunity to partner with leaders in their industry and become known as a top resource for diversity and inclusion.
As the affiliate industry becomes more saturated, we can use our commitment to social responsibility as a tool to stand out and build a passionate and committed consumer base. This will likely increase employee engagement and retention and establish leadership positioning for the organisations we support.