Last year it became increasingly difficult to avoid having a point of view on divisive issues. Not surprisingly, consumers are more receptive to brands taking a stand than ever before. Recent research from Sprout Social surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. internet users and found  two-thirds want brands to take a stand on social and political issues. However, the question remains – How do you take a stand and still protect your brand?

The report's key findings point to a handful of great tips to start.

Use the right channels.

Of the 66% of consumers that think it's important for brands to take a stand, more than half, 58%, see social media as the right place to do it. And with rapid change regularly afoot among media giants, it's no longer enough to simply curate and post content. Ensure two-way conversations through responsible community management.

Be relevant.

There are SO many issues out there, take the time to be intentional about what you connect to your brand. Consumers say brands are most credible when an issue directly impacts their customers (47%), employees (40%) and business operations (31%). So go back to your audience to understand what matters to them, and make sure your message resonates.

Effect change.

Many brands are hesitant to put a stake in the ground around social and political issues, and the risk is real. But by focusing on influencing actions rather than trying to change minds, they are less likely to turn consumers off. Survey respondents indicated brands are more effective when they announce donations to specific causes (39%) and encourage followers to take specific steps to support causes (37%). Two-thirds said posts on social issues rarely or never influence their opinion.

Ready to get started? We'd love to help. Reach out, and let's partner on social strategies to drive engagement around relevant issues.