Don’t expect an immediate engagement lift on your brand’s sustainability content.
Sustainability-related Instagram posts by brands see an average 9% fewer interactions, according to Gartner L2’s recent corporate social responsibility report. In other words, customers can’t be fooled by one heartfelt post about plastic waste reduction or an email about International Women’s Day.
However, the study also has some encouraging news: brands do get a big lift when they communicate this type of content across multiple platforms, making it part of a broader messaging strategy. Everlane, Reformation, and Girlfriend Collective prominently promote sustainability initiatives on the homepages of their respective sites, as well as within email marketing and in their Instagram bios. Everlane, for example, has five Instagram highlights pertaining to the ReNew product line (a collection of sustainable outerwear made from recycled water bottles), and bolsters this with email content detailing a plastic recycling guide. It’s unsurprising that these brands garner the highest engagement lift when sharing this content on social.
Established brands incorporating new sustainability initiatives can look to Madewell’s journey to success. During Q3 2018, Madewell’s Instagram posts focusing on women’s empowerment and other social consciousness efforts garnered a 22% decrease in engagement, when compared to the brand’s average post. But that November, the brand launched a denim recycling program alongside its other existing #DoWell initiatives. Madewell coordinated messaging across Instagram, YouTube, and email marketing, encouraging consumers to bring used jeans into brand stores in exchange for a $20 discount on a new pair. As the program gained awareness and popularity, Madewell’s consistent online communication paid off. The brand saw a 13% engagement lift on relevant social media content in the beginning of 2019, proving that socially responsible messaging can pay off.