The findings come from a poll of more than 1,000 'opinion formers' by Populus for TLGdigital, part of TLG Communications.
The survey revealed that 61 per cent of opinion formers believed corporates should be using online channels not just for sales and marketing, but also for promoting awareness of social issues.
Additionally, more than two-thirds of respondents said that they would be more likely to 'trust', 'consult' and do business with a company taking a leadership position on a social issue online.
'Businesses need to go to another level to really engage people, meaning communication around issues and tapping into the values of different stakeholder groups,' said Malcolm Gooderham, TLG's founder and MD.
Ethical investment was the issue most likely to resonate with opinion formers, followed closely by healthy eating and encouraging greater charitable giving.