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Social impact reporting has been around for decades and has made a real difference in how people view brands. But how do social impact reports affect the ever-changing marketing industry? Specifically, how do they affect influencer marketing?
The Origins of Social Impact Reports
In a Yale University seminar in 1969, the term’ social impact’ was used for the first time to describe the ethical responsibilities of institutional investors. This seminar was held to consider investment activities’ social and environmental aspects. In 1970, the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) created a set of practices called the Social Impact Assessment (SIA).
NEPA and SIA originally aimed to capture potentially negative socio-economic impacts of large-scale industrial land uses. However, today, the use of the Social Impact Assessment is far from that. Social impact has been reported by an increasing number and range of businesses, well-beyond NEPA land-use reporting.
In the U.S., private companies have adopted the language of NEPA and SIA to consider and combat environmental degradation, poor labor conditions, and gender inequality. The onset of the Global Financial Crisis continued to spark people’s interest in SIA, the Google search term receiving steadily more interest since 2008.
What Does a Social Impact Report Look Like Today?
Social Impact Reports today provide an analysis of a company’s social, economic, and environmental impacts and an assessment of its risks and benefits. The same Social Impact Assessment reports used previously only to assess negative socio-economic industrial land uses now encompass how a brand is valuable to the community, why it exists, and why it should continue.
Why Social Impact Report?
Social Impact Reporting does more than just tell us how culturally diverse or Green, with a capital ‘G,’ a company is; social impact reporting shows stakeholders the effects an organization’s actions, decisions, or policies have on them. Though it may seem like a bureaucratic communication exercise, Social Impact Reporting is anything but just that.
Social Impact Reporting can attract talent, maximize investments, and maintain reputation. But how?
Attracting and Retaining Talent
Highlighting your company’s social impacts can aid in gaining and retaining talent, especially in influencer marketing. It is no secret that the younger generations are more eco-conscious and socially conscious than previous generations, so much so that they even want their employers to put their money where their mouth is.
Nearly 40% of millennials have reported choosing a job because one company performed better than the other regarding sustainability. 75% of those a part of Gen Z reported that working for a brand whose values align with theirs is a key factor in their employment decisions.
Additionally, not only do the younger generations prefer to work with companies whose values align with theirs, but they also prefer to buy from brands that support similar values. A study by DoSomething Strategic found that 76% of those in Gen Z have purchased or would consider purchasing from a brand only to show support for the issues that the company is supporting.
Likewise, social impact reporting not only attracts and retains talent but attracts and retains consumers influencer marketing companies want to market for.
Interested in sustainability and lessening waste? You’ll love the de-influencing trend on TikTok! Learn all about it here!
Informing Corporate Decision-Making
The data found in Social Impact Reports allows for valuable insight into how senior executives can better their decision-making.
Some examples may include ways to better leverage the company’s impact, such as greater diversification of supply chain spending or funding essential healthcare services in the communities the brand operates. However, the best way Social Impact Reports may help inform corporate decision-making is by helping to show where to best direct their corporate philanthropic efforts to areas of the largest impact.
Maintenance of Reputation
Increasingly, companies are increasingly considering others’ sustainability efforts regarding who or what to work with. Companies prioritize collaborating with companies with a demonstrated focus on sustainability, including their social impact policies and practices. For example, sustainability and eco-friendly clothing brands captivated environmentally-conscious fashion influencers compared to their wasteful competitors.
Crunching the Numbers
Furthermore, social impact reporting reminds us that the statistics we look at regarding surveys sent out, click-through rates, or any other numbers are not just numbers; they are all people.
Social impact reporting reminds us that although we may be working in social media, many of our social aspects have been stripped of our careers. Social Impact Reports allow us to continue to put people at the heart of our stories, whatever story that may be. Companies worldwide impact every single person that consumes their products in some way, shape, or form, and Social Impact Reports show that clear as day and tell us how we can better impact their lives next year and hope for a better future and a better report.
Though social impact reports may not have had the start that anyone would have guessed, their continued use today proves how effective they have been, continue to be, and perhaps have yet to be. If you’re a business hoping to make a difference in the world, develop a report of your own!
The marketing and influencer marketing industries are ever-changing. Thus far, social impact reporting has evolved with the industry to include what’s become more important to us and looking forward, I’m curious to see what else could be included in these reports. Until then, businesses must consider the benefits of social impact reports to better their company’s reputation and power in the world.