Some things never get old. Like social issues on Twitter. With all the panic and hate going on across the world right now, it’s impossible for us to ignore the social movements that have take on our media and our streets. But how do you navigate that as a business? We called a community chat this week to discuss this exactly.
Here’s a summary of the chat.
Topic: Using Twitter to Support Social Causes
Format: Eight questions, and everyone’s welcome to share their opinions.
Almost all of our chatters support at least one cause, the most common and recent being the #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements.
Gretchen pointed out the importance of awareness in another great cause—food security. Though we don’t often recognize it enough, many people in the world suffer from not having enough, while half the world can afford to splurge on and even waste food.
A1. The most common social cause food insecurity.
I tweet about my three favorite charities to whom I donate.
— Gretchen Vaughn, DTM 🎙️ #TMTweetChat (@TMTweetChat) June 4, 2020
Aditi shared another one of her favorite causes, #SCCountmeIn. As she said, it’s an effort to include the often neglected and forgotten communities in Columbia South Carolina in this year’s census. Noble cause, indeed.
— Aditi Srivastav Bussells PhD, MPH (@aditisrivastav) June 4, 2020
As Zen suggested, it’s a good idea to jump into a trend only if it resonates with your brand. And you are your brand. If you feel strongly about a cause and consider it part of your identity, then by all means, show your support.
A2. Only if it connects with you personally. Currently #BlackLivesMatter is trending and I've been vocal about it because I need to support this movement. I have something to share. In business our personal brand, our values and what we stand for matters. #TwitterSmarter
— Zen Yinger (@ZenYinger) June 4, 2020
That said, it’s also good to remember that promoting a social cause can be draining as well. It takes a lot of effort, dedication, and most importantly, consistent support for the cause. Think through. Like Joana said, you might be better off focusing on two or three causes you care most about instead of spreading yourself thin over too many.
🛑 before i jump in, i have to think if my brand has any relation to the social cause.
🤔i think it's wiser to stick to one or two social causes and focus – that goes for brands and individuals.
social causes need time and energy from us. #twittersmarter
— Joana Rita Sousa 🦄 💩💎 (@JoanaRSSousa) June 4, 2020
Take a minute to consider your stance on certain social causes. If you realize that you care enough to talk about those causes on your social media channels, then you should certainly include them when you create your strategy.
As Janet from #AfricaTweetChat rightly said, including social causes in your regular posts, is a way to humanize your brand. When your audience realizes that you care about the same things they do, they’ll feel more inclined to follow you.
A3. Yes. They’ll make your brand more social and give it a chance to show emotions, care and human aspects. People get connected easily when brands join them in a social issue. ^Janet#TwitterSmarter
— #AfricaTweetChat (@AfricaTweetChat) June 4, 2020
Mike gave us a reality check, however. Though it’s a great idea to include social causes in your strategy, you should also think about the flip side of it. Does your audience care about the cause you care about? Do they want to hear you share your opinions about that cause? Unless they’re invested in it as much as you are, it isn’t helpful to make social causes a regular part of your strategy.
A3: In a perfect world, yes. In the real world, it comes down to (1) how much of an impact said social issue has on your audience and (2) whether or not investing in it can yield a profitable ROI. #TwitterSmarter
— Mike Lewis (@MaverickAdverts) June 4, 2020
Madalyn made a similar point. She told us how her profile is mostly about Twitter marketing and tips and social causes may not always get a lot of traction amongst her audience. However, since it’s her personal brand, she’s still comfortable discussing social issues occasionally. It’s just not a standard part of her content.
A3: It really depends on who your audience is. My @MadalynSklar Twitter account is primarily for Twitter tips and insights. Social issues don't really vibe with that. But because this is my personal brand, I'm comfortable adding my two cents from time to time. #TwitterSmarter https://t.co/pZB6m4FQ2v
— Madalyn Sklar – Digital Marketing since 1996 (@MadalynSklar) June 4, 2020
Q4: How can you support an issue that’s not directly related to your business?
One of the best ways to support a social cause, is to give them the spotlight. Like John suggested, you can retweet others’ posts, engage and like their content. That way, you help the cause reach more people even if your business isn’t directly involved. You can even think about donating to causes you support.
A4: Give it a voice. RT and amplify the voices. Also, put additional action where your mouth is, whether with your money or doing something. It's too easy to support something on social media. #TwitterSmarter
— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) June 4, 2020
Another idea, as Kim said, is to rally (figuratively) with your community. Find out causes that matter to your audience and see how you can support them. That way, you’ll have strong support when you discuss those issues.
A4: Do your research! Pick a cause that both you and your customers are passionate about. Reach out to this cause and let them know that you would like to build a relationship. #TwitterSmarter
— Kim Wise (@kimwise014) June 4, 2020
Always be prepared for backlash. As our friend from Draseum mentioned, sometimes your audience may not agree with you on your causes. They might choose to blatantly oppose you on Twitter and even to unfollow you. Before you send out your support tweet, take a moment to consider your tone and messaging. If it’ll help, put off tweeting until trending situations have settled and are calmer.
A5. Not your whole audience will align with that cause you are so passionate about. Some may even have opposing views.
Message needs to be carefully crafted to ensure tone is appropriate. Timing is also crucial. When emotions are running high, it needs reflection. #TwitterSmarter
— Draseum – Marketing Research, Insight & Consulting (@draseum) June 4, 2020
As Chris warned, if your message has any negative connotations, or if your audience is offended, you might have a hard time dealing with your community.
A5: Consequences for supporting social issues is all about subsequent perception. If your support has negative tones attached to it are you portraying yourself in a negative light and offending others who don't agree? It is a bit of a tight-rope sometimes! #TwitterSmarter https://t.co/BJhYOn6JYO
— Chris Dack (@chrisgdack) June 4, 2020
And if course, Lance reminded us that there’s always someone out there trying to make politics out of pudding. Just be wary.
#TwitterSmarter A5: Let's hope so, but in today's politically-charged social media environment, someone is going to stoke the fire or spam the thread with their own political nonsense. I almost did it here! I chose to refrain.
— Lance A Schart (@LanceASchart) June 4, 2020
It is, but it’s tough. Every time you tweet in support of a cause you care about, you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position, opening up avenues of hate speech and negative comments. With Twitter’s notorious record of politicizing social matters, you have to be careful of what you say and how.
As Avery pointed out, review your tweets before you send them out. Think about them from your audience’s perspective to reduce as much friction as possible.
A6. Yes, but not easy. You need to think about what you want to say, then look at what you wrote from your audience’s perspective, especially people who feel differently, and edit accordingly. But even then, there are no guarantees today. #TwitterSmarter
— Avery Horzewski (@averyh) June 4, 2020
However, the outcome of your tweets often also depend on the cause itself. For instance, like Laura suggested, if you’re talking about voting rights, chances are you are grazing the political space. But instead of asserting who and how to vote, perhaps you could phrase your tweet to promote the idea of voting as a basic national duty.
A6: I think it depends upon the cause and how you approach it.
Voting IS tied to politics. But you can make it less political by encouraging people to cast their vote regardless of what it is.
— Laura O'Neill (@LauraOinAK) June 4, 2020
The most important criteria, is that it feels right to support that cause. As Jim said, find out if it resonates personally with who you are, and if it does, go for it.
A7 The most obvious causes to support are those most aligned to your brand. The tie-in should feel natural, not forced. #TwitterSmarter
— Jim Katzaman – Get Debt-Free One Family at a Time (@JKatzaman) June 4, 2020
Daniel echoed the same point. When you choose a cause, think about if and how your values and beliefs align with the cause’s. And most importantly, when you vouch for a cause, you’re doing so as an individual social handle. That’s why it’s easier to include social causes in your personal brand, rather than a business handle you manage but don’t own.
A7. How do I choose which causes to support?
I would not pick to support it as a business but individually.#TwitterSmarter
— Daniel Warui (@warmurd) June 4, 2020
There’re a few ways to deal with such a situation. Firstly, you can try and not be as public about your support. For example, instead of tweeting how much you care for a cause, you can donate. Or volunteer. Or retweet their posts. Or help out their supporters and volunteers in any way you can. That said, as Jake mentioned, you can also think about finding the right audience—one that cares about the same causes as you.
A8: If the cause fits with your brand then the right people will come eventually. You could continue to support more privately the causes.
— Jake Symons (@jakeswrites) June 4, 2020
Sarah said the same thing. She told us it’s ok to build a new community around your cause, if it matters so much to you. That might even mean creating a new account and starting from scratch. But remember, you can only go through with this process successfully, if you care so much that you’re willing to spend the time and effort building a supportive audience.
A8: Build a new community that does. Perhaps start a new social media account to better connect with people that do believe in that cause. #TwitterSmarter
i.e. start a new Twitter account, or a Facebook Group geared towards supporting that particular cause.
— Sarah Clarke – Media Strategist (@sclarkeOville) June 4, 2020
Well, folks. That’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading, and for more insights from our community chat take a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together. If you’ve got some time to spare this week, join us on Thursday at 1pm ET for our next #TwitterSmarter chat.
About me, Narmadhaa:
I write all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.