The Importance of Social Impact
If you’re delivering webinars, you have a message you want to share with a specific audience. Maybe you’re a course creator, a coach, or a consultant.
No matter what it is you have to say, you don’t want that message to go in one ear and out the other—you want to deliver real value.
In a perfect world, that value will impact your audience in a memorable and empowering way. You’ll electrify them to action or to a greater plane of knowledge. Delivering this kind of value feels good for you, too. It taps our intrinsic desire to bring positive change to people and our communities.
Value is one thing. But social change—a buzz word of late, but by no means a new concept —is another thing altogether. It’s not just about bringing your clients ROI for their webinar registration fee; it’s about building a deep infrastructure of what’s most important to you. For most course creators and coaches this is the crux of what motivates you to share your story and knowledge.
If you’re still grappling with how to make a memorable impact or have the desire but are not quite sure how to roll it into your message, use this article as your toolbox. Read on to learn what social impact really is, why it’s important, how you and your community both benefit from it, and how to weave it into your “why” and “how.”
What is social impact?
Social impact (in the context of business) can be defined as the positive impact of business activity on the well-being of a community or on individuals. The more significant or positive the impact, the more aligned with “social impact” it is. Some go further to say that social impact targets known social challenges. Others feel it can be seen in the way a community reacts to the way its leaders organize and help move the community forward. Ultimately, it’s undeniable that social impact provides a positive change in an individual or a group.
A growing number of businesses have tried to make their social impact initiatives known, and it’s easy to see how the press can be positive. But there’s a whole middle ground between doing nothing and launching a global challenge, à la Tide laundry detergent which aims to save the environment and restore dignity to those in need of clean clothes. The formal definition of social impact has started to ebb and flow, but what our community proves each and every day is that it only takes one life impacted for the effort to be worthwhile. Our coaches, course creators, and entrepreneurs started their business because they have a story to share. If through the courageous act of sharing that story one person is impacted, you’ve achieved the goal of social impact. One story, one life changed, one community elevated – it’s not only social impact in its most genuine form, it’s a ripple effect in which the total impact will not be known for generations to come.
The importance of impacting others
A colossal shift has taken place in the world, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re more aware than ever of our impact on others and, thank goodness, of our capacity to help.
More consumers today want to see businesses and entrepreneurs positively impact society because they’ve seen that they can’t do it alone. No number of social movements, non-profits, or charities (and certainly not hashtags) can make the needed progress on the social issues we face.
Businesses and entrepreneurs have to step in and step up. So far, some have done so willingly and with an inspiring amount of conviction. In other cases, consumer expectations pressured businesses to do it. The net result is still positive and significant.
According to a study by the World Economic Forum, millennial consumers say that the single most important job of a business or service provider today should be to “improve society.” This is an incredibly positive statistic for course creators and coaches and provides an amazing opportunity to altruistically talk about the passion that inspires them to share their gift with the world.
Other statistics pointing to the importance of social impact include:
- Social impact with regards to inclusion has gained greater attention, with 76% of Americans saying a company’s marketing should be more reflective of diversity
- Almost two thirds (65%) of Americans say that they research any company who takes a stand on issues to see if the company’s being authentic or just “hashtag stuffing”
- 74% of consumers say a brand’s impact on society is the principal reason why brand trust has become more important to them
- In the C-suite, 85% of company executives believe that being purpose-driven (and social-impact-conscientious) drives profit for their businesses
Does it count as social impact if you only impact one person?
Do you have to save the world? Or does impacting one person count as social impact?
Our two cents is that social change ultimately happens one person at a time, so if that’s the way it pans out, it absolutely counts. Social impact is about taking your beliefs and channeling them into action now. If not now, when? If not that one person, who?
Authenticity is far more important than focusing on reaching a large audience. With an authentic message and intention, your impact and reach will organically grow.
Consumers are great at catching ‘fluff’,” and when it comes to taking a stand for change, they not only want to feel that it’s genuine, they want to see that it’s backed by a demonstrated belief system.
A movie producer who has an inclusive cast in a popular movie but tweets racist and homophobic comments, for instance, will get devoured.
Consumers are just as willing to “put their money where their mouth is,” too, which ups the ante even more for entrepreneurs to get serious about their social impact plans.
For example, in the Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report (pre-pandemic, which accelerated this trend), 66% of global consumers stated they will pay more for products and services from sustainable brands. That was up from 44% just one year before.
Millennials are particularly engaged with brands they see deliver on social impact. Accounting for nearly 80 million consumers and $1 trillion of spending (just in the U.S.), here are some more stats to be aware of about this group:
- 81% of millennials expect companies to make public commitments to be good corporate citizens
- More than 90% of millennials will switch brands to favor one associated with a cause (compared with 85% of all consumers)
- And 67% use social media to engage around the social impact issues important to them (compared with 53% of all consumers)
For our community, social impact is less likely to be an “add on” initiative and more likely to be the heart of your business offering. However, the simple fact that mainstream brands are spearheading conversations centered on the responsibility of all businesses and services to make an impact makes it easier for your audience to appreciate the changes you seek to make. Here are a couple examples of brands who paved the way for these new expectations.
Perhaps the most popular example most of us think of first is Toms, the shoe producer. This brand was founded with a specific social responsibility program around a central mission: give kids around the world shoes, because millions don’t even have that much.
For every pair of shoes sold, Toms gives a new pair of shoes to a child in need. The operation donated shoes to kids in over 50 countries. Their model has since changed to benefit multiple social causes, but donating a pair is still an option.
From day one, sustainable and responsible practices have been at the heart of Toms manufacturing, too. And, without a doubt, these social impact efforts have shaped the perception of the brand, and the one-for-one model has inspired other businesses.
Warby Parker was once a start-up maker of eyeglasses. Still fairly new to the scene, they were founded in 2010. The greater eyewear industry was then taken by surprise with Warby Parker’s Toms-like “buy one, we’ll donate one” devotion to handing out eyeglasses to people in need all around the globe.
To date, the brand has distributed more than a quarter million pairs of glasses to people in need.
The quality of Warby Parker glasses, too, came coupled with lower prices than the designer options on the market at the time. Warby Parker was all about accessibility, and their vintage-inspired and affordable frames were their idea on how to make a difference.
Corporate sustainability has also been a big priority at Warby Parker.
What’s your “why?”
To make a real social impact, your decisions need to be backed by your values and priorities (personally or in your business). You don’t necessarily have to commit to the same “buy a pair, give a pair” model of Toms or Warby Parker, however.
To decide how you can make a significant social impact, start by walking down memory lane. We all get bogged down by the “how” of social impact before we ever consider the “why.” Just google “social impact” and you’ll find endless results with blogs of step-by-step instructions on how to roll out project A or B.
Instead, start by asking yourself:
- Who in your field do you admire, and why?
- What social challenges have been important to you in the past?
- What social challenges are most important to you now?
The Japanese concept of Ikigai
The “why” quandary is a little more complex than just asking yourself a handful of questions (though that is an essential place to start).
To dig deeper into your purpose, you can take those preliminary answers and then lean into the Japanese concept of ikigai.
The word “ikigai” is a compound of two Japanese words: “iki” (alive) and “kai” (effect, result, worth or benefit). This brings us your “reason for living,” not unlike the French “raison d’être.”
Once you’ve asked yourself the questions above, take the list of things important to you and ask, if they are so important, what purpose do you have as a result? Then, you’ll be well on your way to discovering your ikigai.
For example: If you value equality, your “purpose” could be to balance out a specific inequality.
The trust fall of making your aim to serve others.
Anyone who’s ever been to summer camp (or a pre-pandemic business seminar) knows the “trust fall” exercise. You’re tasked with closing your eyes and falling backwards, eyes closed and with all your weight, into the open arms of people you have to choose to trust.
Arguably, the awkward social element of this exercise is just as hard to overcome as the fall itself.
In a similar way, it can feel risky to shift your messaging to a social impact focus. You will learn quickly, however, that the value you bring to the community—including those you “impact” as well as your clients or customers—will quickly come back with interest.
Benefits you’ll enjoy (personally and professionally) by delivering social impact include:
- Greater sense of your own well-being
- Getting more “meaning” out of your work
- Increased drive, creativity and motivation
- A greater competitive edge
- A more loyal client base
Making a social impact is not for the faint of heart. EasyWebinar provides a tool for authentic relationship building where amazing people can share their stories and their gifts with the world. Learn about it right here on the website, see what the platform can do, and get those creative wheels turning in a more inspired way than ever before! This is just the beginning of the conversation – stay tuned as we dive into more ways to make a social impact, as well as share stories about some of our most impactful community members.