What stance should your business take on social issues? We are constantly reading about social issues and awareness on various Social Media platforms. It’s not necessarily due to a rise in these issues, but the wider availability to hear and read about them online and in other media outlets.

Social media gives the everyday user the opportunity to take up a cause or share about one. Should your business get involved in the social issues of the day? Should you be trying to raise social awareness around a certain issue? As your followers raise social concerns on their own social media accounts, they seem to expect the companies they follow, to be involved in some level about the issues of this day and age.

So what is a business to do about social awareness? There are two main types of social issues: one businesses should definitely raise awareness for, while the other would be something they should avoid.

1. Compassion-based social issues: Hunger, homelessness, poverty, diseases, or anything that awakens the desire to help your fellow human beings and ease their suffering. These are the types of issues that companies should raise awareness for. It shows that you aren’t all about profit and business, but have a desire to help those in need and show compassion. Your followers will relate to this and admire you for your involvement. At ICUC where I work, we have a cause we support that’s important to us. It’s Siloam Mission located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Every year we help them raise money to feed the hungry and homeless an Easter meal in an event called #Shop4Siloam. We spread the word all over social media before and during the event.

2. “Hot-Button” social issues: Immigration, gun control, anything political, legal, spiritual, economical, etc. These are the issues that get people all riled up. The hot-button issues stir up controversy and businesses should be careful to not get involved. You will probably get user-generated comments that talk about these and you need to be careful to diffuse any arguments and avoid having your content and communities hijacked by them. It’s good for companies to get behind compassionate social issues, raising awareness and funds to help those in need. They are in a special position with the funds and media presence to truly help.

On the other hand, social issues that bring controversy and division will not help your business. You will draw attention to yourself, but not in a way that will build a good reputation and strengthen your online communities. Businesses can do good by raising awareness for compassion-based social issues, while steering clear of hot-button social issues.