Employee Advocacy ~ 10 min

What is Social Advocacy: How It Can Benefit Your Workplace?

Social advocacy as a practice makes the world a better place. But it can make your company a better place to work at in the process. Learn how to take steps toward improving the planet, while also getting employees engaged and involved around a cause that matters.

The idea of using the workplace as a forum for helping a good cause isn’t new. Food drives, recycling initiatives, fundraisers—they’ve been part of office culture for decades. However, companies are increasingly realizing that while social advocacy is a step in the right direction for the world at large, it’s also a way to improve the workplace environment, too. It builds morale, strengthens team spirit, and fosters engagement. In short: everybody wins. In this article, you’ll discover how social advocacy can be a positive force both outside an organization and within.

Definition: What is social advocacy?

There are essentially two ways that the term “social advocacy” is commonly used. The first one is more linked to brand advocacy. Brand advocacy is the act of promoting and supporting a particular brand or company, and it typically involves customers and other stakeholders to generate positive sentiment and support for the brand.

However, there is a second meaning, and that’s the one we will focus on in this article.

Social advocacy is also the act of supporting a particular cause that is aimed at improving the well-being of a specific group of individuals—or society as a whole. It typically involves raising awareness about the issue, gathering support and resources, and advocating for changes in laws or policies that will help address the problem. Social advocates often use a variety of tactics and strategies, such as organizing campaigns, conducting research, and working with policymakers, to achieve their goals.


What are the types of social advocacy?

So focusing on the second definition—social advocacy is aimed at improving the welfare of individuals, or society as a whole. And obviously, that kind of assistance can take many forms.

For example, social advocacy may include:

    • Campaigning to raise funding for schools and education programs
    • Working to pass laws to protect the rights of marginalized people
    • Organizing campaigns to raise awareness about social issues and themes
    • Providing support to individuals and communities in need
    • Volunteering at a local food bank or homeless shelter
    • Supporting nonprofits that promote social justice and equality

One area that’s received increased attention as awareness of global warming and the climate crisis has become more prevalent, is the environment. It’s a cause that everyone has a stake in, and that virtually everyone cares about. It’s generally easy to get people on board. Common social advocacy activities that center around the environment include:

    • Campaigning to raise money for conservation programs
    • Working to pass laws that regulate emissions and protect air and water quality
    • Organizing campaigns to raise awareness around environmental issues
    • Providing support to organizations that promote sustainable development
    • Volunteering at a nature reserve or public park
    • Donating to organizations that work to preserve any natural habitat

However, regardless of whether the cause is social, environmental, or geared toward a specific person, the purpose of social advocacy is to seek improvement through collective action. It’s about getting people to work together to seek betterment.

engagement trees social advocacy


What are the goals of social advocacy?

What is the primary goal of social advocacy? Well, that depends. The goals of social advocacy can vary greatly depending on the specific cause or issue that is being supported. After all, a campaign to raise money to help whales will have very different specific objectives from a fundraiser to launch children’s education initiatives at a local art museum. In general, however, the aims of social advocacy usually are to:

  1. Raise general awareness about a particular issue, create a larger audience, and educate people regarding its impact and potential solutions.
  2. Gather support and resources, such as cash donations, new volunteers, and useful partnerships, to begin addressing the issue.
  3. Advocate for changes in policies that will help to address the issue and improve the welfare of communities.
  4. Empower individuals and communities to speak out about the issues that are relevant to them, and then empowering them to get involved.
  5. Bring about positive change and make a durable impact, for individuals and communities.

What is the importance of social advocacy for organizations?

Of course, the real benefit of social advocacy comes from the programs themselves. The purpose, after all, is to make the world a better place in some small way. However, there are also a number of benefits that organizations can gain from engaging in social advocacy—positive results that come directly from the collective efforts of employees.

For one, by taking a stance on an issue and working to promote positive change, organizations can demonstrate their commitment to their values and principles, thus building trust and credibility with their stakeholders. This in turn can help to enhance the organization’s reputation and make it more attractive to potential donors, volunteers, and other supporters.

Additionally, social advocacy can help to raise awareness about the organization and its work, which can lead to increased support and resources. By working to address social issues, organizations can also make a positive impact on the communities they serve, which can lead to increased loyalty and engagement from their stakeholders.

And finally, engaging in social advocacy can help organizations to build relationships and partnerships with other organizations and individuals who are working on similar issues, which can lead to new opportunities for collaboration and growth.

According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer 2022, people expect business to step up on social issues. In particular, people believe business is not doing enough to address societal problems, including climate change, economic inequality, and consumer confidence. In short: people expect and want businesses to get involved, to work in concert with the communities they serve to affect social change.

Basically, social advocacy is a win-win. It can make the world a better place to live in, and make your company a better place to work at. It brings people together for a common cause and the collective good.

quote social advocacy


What are the main risks of corporate social advocacy?

Social advocacy at the workplace is largely seen as a force for good—a positive step toward helping people and society. But there are some risks that should be taken into account, for no other reason than to avoid conflicts that might appear down the road. Some potential risks include:

    • Backlash from individuals or organizations who oppose the advocacy efforts.
    • Legal consequences if the advocacy actions violate the law.
    • Loss of funding or support from clients, businesses, or donors if the advocacy efforts are considered controversial.
    • Damage to the company’s reputation if the advocacy actions are seen as misguided.
    • Burnout from the time and energy needed to keep the program going.

This is why it’s important to carefully consider all factors involved when choosing a program. Make sure it’s something all parties can get involved with, and that won’t alienate segments of your employee or consumer base. You want to bring people together—not divide them.


How to deploy a social advocacy campaign at the workplace?

We’ve covered the basics of social advocacy, the positive benefits, and even the risks that might present themselves. But how does a company actually get a program up off the ground? Here are a few basic steps to getting a social advocacy program started.


1. Define your company culture.

Before getting started, ask yourself what kind of company you are, and what you believe in. The initiative will be most successful if it fits with your mission and values. And don’t be afraid to take the temperature of the room, so to speak.

With an employee communication platform like Sociabble, it’s easy to send surveys and questionnaires, to find out how your workforce sees itself. Admins also have the option of making the answers anonymous, so that the respondents feel completely at ease. You can even target a specific audience, for example a single country or department, if you want to gather feedback on a particular topic that may be relevant only to one specific segment.

survey social advocacy


2. Ask your employees.

Any social advocacy initiative will be more effective if employees believe in the cause you’re asking them to support. It should feel relevant to them. So ask! This is why Sociabble comes with Support My Cause, a built-in CSR feature that allows employees to suggest and vote for social causes that matter to them. With this feature, it’s possible to orchestrate the sourcing, selection, communication, and funding of CSR projects at the company. Available both on desktop and mobile, it also allows you to send personalized newsletters to target and engage a specific audience, as well as push notifications, and various engaging content formats such as interactive quizzes, polls ,videos, and much more.

support my cause social advocacy


3. Encourage engagement.

That is to say, find ways to encourage employees to be engaged with the program and get involved. Rewards and recognition are one way to do this. Sociabble Trees, for example, is a feature that rewards employee engagement with real trees planted in reforestation initiatives around the world. Employees get recognized for being involved, and they can help reduce their own carbon footprint, one tree at a time.


4. Back it up with marketing materials.

As previously discussed, the last thing you want is for your initiative to be taken the wrong way. Accusations of “greenwashing,” or other types of backlash might crop up if the efforts aren’t properly thought-out and explained. One way to address this is through educational content shared on social media. Sociabble makes it easy for organizations to create compelling, visually appealing content in the form of UGC, gifs, videos, and audio.


5. Incorporate a tool for employee advocacy.

It’s only natural that social advocacy and employee advocacy go hand-in-hand. So it also makes sense to give your employees the tool they need to share content across their networks and spread the word. After all, content shared by individuals receives 8 times more engagement than content shared by brands. Sociabble is designed to do just that, empowering employees to share content across all major platforms with just a few clicks, allowing them to become brand ambassadors, and then rewarding them with badges and recognition for doing so.


share social advocacy


In fact, Sociabble is an employee communication platform designed to do all of this and more, enhancing the employee experience with features like tailored newsletters, instant translation, data analytics, and survey modules, just to name a few. It has already been used by industry leaders like L’Occitane, Primark, Renault Group, and Coca-Cola, and we’re always happy to chat.

If you’d like to learn more about how Sociabble can help your company with its employee communication and social advocacy initiatives, just get in touch. You can sign up here for a free demo.