Business has always been about providing customers with quality goods and services. In the past, customers may have been satisfied purchasing from companies that met their needs, but today, more consumers take an interest in the social practices of the businesses they buy from. 

With technological innovation helping the e-commerce industry grow, leaders of these organizations can benefit greatly by starting a social initiative. However, they must be strategic about how they approach tying it in. To help, 14 members from Forbes Business Council share their best advice for integrating a social mission into a business.

1. Focus On Relevant Missions

An effective way to increase awareness and gain organizational buy-in is to identify and focus on social missions that are uniquely relevant to a particular industry. For example, many housing providers in the apartment industry are focusing their resources on providing assistance to individuals who are not able to cover their rent payments during the pandemic. – Georgianna W. OliverTour24

2. Get Employee Buy-In

From my point of view, there are many ways and many initiatives, but there is only one way to do it successfully. This is by asking your own employees and leaving the decision to them. Only if your employees are 100% committed to that mission, will it be successfully tied in the business as a core, therefore creating an impact in our world and in your business. – Daniel SánchezInfluencity

3. Take A Purpose-First Approach

I would say that brands must understand what their employees and customers care about. Founders must first be connected to their purpose. I don’t believe brands are true thought leaders per se, but rather they can become catalysts for conversations by taking a purpose-first approach and ensuring they are a force for good both inside and outside the corporation. – Isabelle PerreaultDifferly Inc.

4. Appeal To The Masses

Start by selecting a social mission that is not polarizing and is as neutral as possible. Inevitably, if you select a social mission that is too polarizing, you will potentially ostracize a large group of customers. Do your best to select a social mission that appeals to the masses rather than your own personal and potentially narrow views. – Tony SilvaHome Repair

5. Ensure Fit

Find a linkage that makes sense, to both the company and the consumer. Like anything, fit is key. Are the company’s values in line with the social aspect? Is it something the consumer cares about? The consumer is as educated as ever, so if it all clicks, they will click. – Ryan WeissmuellerFintrepid Solutions

6. Start Small

Making a difference in the world is something that should come naturally. Starting very small counts, and it can be something that you know serves a purpose. For example, donate a small percentage of your profits to a cause that you are passionate about. Building on such small missions leads to a greater social mission. – Vijal SutharGRP Capital 

7. Provide Clear Communication

Companies can effectively tie their social mission to their e-commerce business by providing their customers with clear communication. This includes the brand vision, mission and values, and should include shared marketing communications, including social media platforms and email campaigns. The goal is to make sure the mission is deeply entwined with the product or service—so much so that it’s hard to see the brand surviving intact without it. – Jean Paul PaulyniceEmpowering Confident Youth

8. Be Authentic To Your Brand

I think the most important thing is to be authentic to your brand. If your brand doesn’t seem aligned with a social mission, it’s not going to be convincing. Choose something that makes sense for the brand and the vision of the company. Embody the company with a persona and ask what that “character” would be connected to. If you select something close to that persona, it will feel more natural that way. – Ronjini JoshuaThe Silver Telegram

9. Integrate The Mission With Your Core Industry And Markets

Integrate your social mission with the core industry and markets in which you operate, making sure to align strategy and efforts with overall corporate mission and vision. For example, we have a global focus, serving customers who have a need for our digital country, culture and global business learning content. As a result, we support issues that benefit communities in our key markets. – Sanjyot DunungAtma Global

10. Establish Clear Values

It’s all about value alignment across your organization and with your customers. Establish clear values within your organization and ensure your entire organization is aligned to those values. This includes the board of directors, leadership team, employees, contractors and vendors. Build your business around customers who share those same values. Naturally, your brand and product portfolio will follow. – Greg BybeeAvela Education

11. Root Decisions in Positive Impact

We have to move beyond the search for social mission as a PR play, so start by aligning on conscious leadership. More than a giveback initiative, making a difference in the world means that all decisions about the business are rooted in collective positive impact—from collaborative and diverse cultures to environmentally sustainable materials and practices and everything in between. – Kelly CampbellAgency Growth Consultant LLC

12. Add More Product Information

One easy and effective way to tie a social mission to your e-commerce business is by adding information about how your product and the packaging it’s shipped in should be recycled and or disposed of after its use. Consumers should know if the packaging is biodegradable, recyclable or needs special instructions for waste removal. This can be done with simple note cards or on the packaging itself. – Joseph SommerWhitestone Branding

13. Attach Customer Insight To Your Listings

Brand intimacy is natural if done right. Consumers no longer just handout shares of their wallets. Each consumer markets her own personal brand through social media and through word of mouth. Your brand must align with consumers, creating brand intimacy. Don’t just push product. Take the time to have conversations with customers through your e-commerce engine and attach consumer insight to product listings. – Andy AustinThe Industrious

14. Build A Community

Businesses are starting to realize they don’t want customers, they want clients and communities. The people they interact with beyond the transaction are citizens of their overall community. Smart business leaders are thinking about this shift from “Direct to Consumer” as a move toward “Direct to Community” and building their foundations on what are the norms and values of these communities. – Kelly McDonaldKyndoo Inc