Social at the Center of CSR

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There’s a lot of discussion about what how and where does social media play into corporate social responsibility (CSR). Since Pepsi’s Refresh Project, we saw a shift in community expectations of CSR, moving away from simply reporting with hardbound books (ironic) and websites to community involvement. According to Chrysi Philalithes from the (RED) campaign, “70% of Americans think businesses can make more difference in the world than governments.” Companies have an opportunity to resonate with consumers and its global community, while making a lasting impact. The big step is to do it. But, how?

At its root, corporate social responsibility is grounded in community. With new tools and channels, this community has given light and voice to a larger collective – all possible because of social media. So, what does it take to take your CSR initiatives to the world of social media? I compiled a few thoughts and ideas below! Check it out and tell me what you think?

1. Commit. This step is crucial. If you can’t commit to CSR or social media, stop reading here. CSR is about long-term goals, plans, and a hope for a better future. This means that these efforts will take time, manpower and money.

2. Be human. The benefit of CSR is its ability to truly humanize your brand. Our community (online and offline) expect companies to be good citizens, to do the right thing. If you make a mistake, own up to it. If you don’t know, find the answer. If you need help, ask.

3. Listen. Find out what your audience needs and assess if your existing corporate initiatives are truly prioritized appropriately. If you’re donate laptops but the community really needs to focus on infrastructure, how can you readjust to put the needs of the community first. Or, use social media to ask the tough questions. When Starbucks opened up a feedback mechanism to ask for consumer help, they were welcomed and the feedback shared was constructive. The key is doing something about it …

4. Do. A shift has occurred in CSR, away from pulling out our wallets, and more about getting our hands dirty. So yes, CSR takes money, but we can’t simply stop at signing a check or matching a donation. CSR offers employees the ability to engage with consumers in a deeper way. furthermore, companies will be held more accountable for their promises. If consumer feedback says to reduce the amount of plastic in your packaging, the expectation is that you will investigate options and work to fulfill this request.

5. Communicate. Social media allows us to communicate a company’s great work, however it goes beyond simply pushing messages. Today, we’re able to ask for feedback, respond to constituent questions and build trust through transparency, and work to rally a community around a common cause – all through social media.

What are your thoughts on social media and CSR? What do you think is the company that’s doing it the best?

Other resources that might be helpful:
Tying Together Social Media and Corporate Social Responsibility (Via Jay Baer)
Corporate Social Responsibility (via Mashable)

PS – This is my first post from my ipad…  not sure that it won’t be my last. 🙂

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Posted on April 16, 2011, in Corp Comms, Leadership/Management, Marketing, Public Relations, social media, Web/Tech and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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