How to include CSR in your content marketing strategy

Brands are now more than ever being challenged by their customers’ expectations of doing good. According to recent research, 62% of consumers want brands to stand up for the issues they care about.
And it doesn’t stop there. People don’t just want to know what a brand stands for before making a purchase decision, they also want to know what actions a brand is taking to make the world a better place. In the same research report by Accenture, 37% of consumers said they’ve stopped doing business with a company because of its words or actions about a social issue.
To make life even more challenging for marketers, customers are also more sceptical than ever - and rightly so with the increasing amount of fake news and questionable CSR activities from some brands.
So how do you show your customers all the amazing things that you’re doing without coming across as too promotional or, worse, ingenuine? The answer is to use your content marketing strategy.
This is simply because the nature of content marketing allows brands to showcase their values in an authentic way. In fact, the whole purpose of content marketing is to create relevant and useful content that your audience will relate to. If your audience has strong values that they care about, content marketing can help you find a common ground and can be used to resonate and converse with them.
Doing it well can be easier said than done though. Here are some tips that will help you to include CSR in your content marketing strategy:

1: Value your values

All your CSR content marketing activities should be aligned with your brand values in order to come across as authentic and credible. It’s as simple as that.
If you want to know how this can work in practice, check out Lego’s online community that encourages members to submit new product ideas. Why does this work? Lego’s brand values are all about inspiration, creativity, learning and innovation.

2: Find the right balance

Content marketing is all about ensuring your brand values are aligned with the needs and interests of your audience. You need to find the balance between what you want to talk about and what your audience wants to hear.
It doesn’t make any sense to shout about things that your audience won’t find interesting or engaging. Likewise, you shouldn’t produce content just to please the needs of your audience, unless it’s relevant to your business. Producing content for the sake of it will come across as ingenuine and feel out of place.

3: Be realistic

Don’t make it sound like you’re out there to save the world! Most of the issues we’re facing today are extremely complex and it’s unrealistic to think that these can be solved by one brand. Be humble and focus on what you, as a brand, can realistically do to help (although if you can save the world, by all means: go ahead!).

4: Connect via storytelling

Content marketing provides a great opportunity to tell impactful stories to your audience. Whether you share these via videos, reports, partnerships, articles or social media activities, make sure you tell stories that people can relate to. If you manage to evoke emotions and show genuineness, it will help to deepen the connection between your brand and your audience.

5: Consistency is key

Authenticity and credibility take time to build. CSR based content marketing should not be seen as a quick win or one-off activity. Choose the issues closest to your heart and stick with them. Don’t get tempted to jump on the bandwagon just for the sake of it when there’s a new cause that everyone is talking about. Reflect on whether your brand can genuinely be aligned with that cause. There are plenty of examples of brands that have tried and failed to do this.
You can also support causes quietly, rather than shouting about your involvement in your marketing messaging. Remember: you can do good things without having to tell the world about it. That goes for both brands and individuals.

Final thoughts

Using content marketing strategies to put light to your CSR activities can be a great way to align your brand values with the values of your audience. It can help you to build a better, more long-lasting relationship with your customers. The key is to ensure that you come across as genuine and authentic.
What’s more, if you do it well, you can help to increase awareness for the causes and issues you genuinely care about, which can leave the world in a bit of a better place than you found it. That’s what CSR and content marketing should be all about.