Thanks to a social media culture that reveres transparency and demands accountability, companies today are seen through the critical lens of the Triple Bottom Line.People, planet and profit. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) states that businesses should act as stewards of society, the environment, and the economy.
The social media spotlight brings accolades and new business for companies that give back, while brands behaving badly are pilloried in online communities like Twitter and Facebook, followed by the mainstream press.
Creating a CSR strategy has become a primary challenge for companies. Fortunately, social media can be an invaluable resource for companies willing to commit to becoming better corporate citizens.
Here are 5 steps to develop a CSR culture using social media
Commit & Lead
A CSR strategy begins with a long-term vision and commitment from the top of the executive food chain. The CEO’s vision should be shared through social media channels so supporters can engage with the brand, provide feedback, and become evangelists.
Listen & Learn
It’s important to assess the needs of the communities where you do business to determine which social issues to address. Employees that live and work in the community know the areas of greatest need. Many companies provide assistance to neighborhood programs like school breakfasts, books for libraries, or food banks, and reap the community rewards. The work humanizes the brand while strengthening the community.
Some companies leverage social media to encourage spontaneous and innovative ways to help others. Last month, Meg Garlinghouse, Senior Director of Yahoo For Good wrapped up a successful campaign called Random Acts of Kindness.Users and Yahoo employees were asked to update their status with stories about helping others, which were then shared across the Yahoo network.
The CSR campaign received over 300,000 status updates and global participation from 11 countries. Other companies showed their support for CSR by giving employees the time to participate in volunteerism.
In Kenya, Many companies have CSR activities around different issues. For example, the Dettol Heart Run, Stanchart Marathon organized by Standard Charted bank in support of the blind and those with eye problems. For a small company, CSR could be done on a smaller scale e.g community clean ups around where your business is based. You can then publicize your activities through your twitter handle and your facebook fan pages.
Talk about what you are doing with CSR. CEOs can use social channels to tweet, blog and post updates about CSR initiatives. Make it a key topic at board meetings, employee meetings, press briefings, and trumpet it through all marketing channels. It’s critical to communicate CSR positions on your website to encourage brand enthusiasts to get involved. As Tim Sanders stated in Saving the World at Work, studies show that when you witness or hear about an act of compassion, you are more likely to emulate it.
The CEO of Alcatel-Lucent, Ben Verwaayen, communicates his vision for CSR on his website.
[sws_blue_box box_size=”620″]It is vital for all companies to act in a socially responsible manner and to be good corporate citizens. This involves more than ethical behavior it means that all employees must become involved and demonstrate the company’s concern for society.[/sws_blue_box]
As it turns out, doing good is good for business, and more companies are realizing the benefits of Socially Responsible Investments (SRIs).
Social scientists believe that we are wired to be kind. It would seem that they are right, especially in light of the recent outpouring of generosity to Haiti. In today’s world, admiration is bestowed upon companies that look beyond short-term financial goals to engage in long-term commitments for the betterment of society.