Measuring the social impact of your brand

By Tom Wright, Digital Marketing Manager

In early 2022 we asked ourselves what we could do to enhance the social purpose of Thrive.

We are deeply committed to our ethos that words change lives, and we specialise in creating content grounded in behavioural science that can bring about real and lasting change. As a company that has specialised in women’s health for more than 20 years, the ongoing issue of period poverty is something that is very close to our hearts.

To contribute to this important cause, we decided to make a donation to the amazing charity Period Poverty for every new newsletter subscriber we received. This allowed us to channel the social purpose of Thrive in a way that would have a real impact on the lives of people, while also tying this purpose to more traditional business goals.

But how should you measure success for a campaign like this? And is it really possible to measure things like social impact, in the same way you would measure the impact of a marketing campaign?

What is social impact?

First of all, let’s be sure we understand what we mean when we talk about social impact. What it is exactly?

Social impact, in a business context, is the effect that a company has, positive or otherwise, on people, the community and the environment. A company’s social impact therefore comes from its actions in relation to social issues such as sustainability, health, wellbeing and social equality.

Brands that are leading the way when it comes to social impact initiatives include the likes of clothing brand Patagonia and sportswear brand Nike.

Patagonia has become synonymous with sustainability in recent years, launching numerous initiatives to promote sustainable farming practices and to reduce the environmental impact of its manufacturing operations.

Nike is another brand which has positioned itself as possessing a strong mission. In 2021 the company published its targets for 2025, aiming to “bring our purpose to life through 29 targets focused on people, planet and play”. This includes a commitment to get children active in sports in cities and low-income areas, with girls’ participation targeted at 50%.

How do you measure social impact?

In order to measure social impact a company should first look at the existing initiatives they have in place and attempt to evaluate the outputs of these projects. In the process of evaluation, you will want to calculate at a minimum the number of people reached by your initiatives, before attempting to gauge the level of engagement made by these people.

Of course, if your company isn’t running any existing initiatives your first port of call will be to define your social impact goals. What social causes resonate most strongly with your brand?

For Nike, getting girls involved with sport in areas where they are underrepresented, is a clear social purpose which aligns strongly with the company. How can you match your social purpose with your brand identity? Once you have settled on the social cause you want to impact, think about the ways in which your company can help, whether that be through donations, education or volunteering.

In order to ensure the social impact of your brand is measurable you will want to set some key performance indicators (KPIs) in advance. These will depend on the nature of your initiative, but you will want to think about metrics that can be easily and accurately tracked, such as the amount of money donated or the level of engagement received from a campaign.

Once you have contended with the above, it’s time to launch your social impact initiative. Following the launch of your project, you will want to collect data to measure against the KPIs you have previously defined.

Online marketing campaigns, such as social media ads, can be easily tracked of course, and here you can look at marketing metrics such as reach, likes, shares, and comments to measure the level of engagement of your target audience.

For other initiatives, such as projects focusing on the local community, you may want to keep a record of attendees to measure engagement, or to run focus groups to understand how people have been impacted by your brand’s social purpose.

In the final step of measuring the social impact of your brand, you will want to analyse the impact data you’ve collected, before communicating the results to key company stakeholders.

In this way, social impact can be tracked, measured, and iterated in a similar way to traditional marketing campaigns. Armed with data matched against KPIs, you can make a judgement on whether the campaign met expectations, whether you were able to make the social impact you were hoping for and what you can do in the next initiative to improve results.

Here at Thrive, our contributions to the cause of period poverty are a mere drop in the ocean of a much wider issue, but we are pleased to be able to actualise our brand purpose in the real world by helping women around the world live better, healthier lives.

Tom is the Digital Marketing Manager at Thrive. He is passionate about all things digital, and specialises in content strategy and creation.

If you would like to keep up to date with the latest in women’s health and health communications, please consider signing up for our monthly newsletter. For every new subscriber, we donate to, a charity providing free period products to women in crisis.

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