These days, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an integral element of a company’s operating model. CSR, or corporate citizenship, allows an organization to demonstrate its responsibility for the impact of its operations on its communities—and its commitment to the wellbeing of those communities. CSR is reflected in a company’s transparency and accountability, as well as its contribution of time and resources to improving social and environmental conditions where the company does business or has effects.
CSR creates a filter for the actions of a company. It keeps organizations accountable and ethical. To keep your CSR efforts thriving, you need momentum and passion, and that has to come from the top. Your stakeholders need to be fully committed. Focus on responsibilities that are meaningful and relevant to you, your clients, your employees, and your partners. – Wendy Burk, CEO of Cadence Travel
But beyond executing CSR initiatives, it’s important to share the CSR story so people know about an organization’s good deeds. Communicating through social media is a great way to spread the word, and it also helps maximize the effects of CSR activities. Multiple research studies have shown the value of sharing CSR activities through social media. It can increase positive perceptions of an organization, help attract prospective employees, and motivate potential buyers to make a purchase.
Consider these figures from a 2017 study by Cone Communications as featured in Business News Daily:
- More than 60% of respondents hope that businesses will advance social and environmental change in the absence of government regulation
- 87% of consumers surveyed said they would purchase a product because a company supported an issue that’s important to them
- 76% of those surveyed indicated they’d refuse to buy from a company if it supports an issue that conflicts with their beliefs
When it comes to CSR, it’s a win-win for the community and an organization. So how can your business make the most of your CSR efforts with the help of social media? Here are a few tips from Forbes and Social Media Week:
- Be straightforward. “Identify the problem you want to address and clearly pinpoint it for your audience. Explain the problem, and then propose a solution and how you’ll get there. The more transparent your CSR initiative is, the greater interest an audience takes in your message.” – Kevin Xu, Forbes Nonprofit Council
- Engage in conversation—don’t just broadcast. “The value of social media is maximized when brands invest in two-way communication. By engaging with your followers, you can spark conversation and show people that you genuinely care about the issues your brand is backing.” – Larry Alton, Social Media Week
- Connect CSR to your company’s mission. “Simply outlining how an initiative operates isn’t meaningful on its own. To resonate with your audience, you must also highlight the potential future impact of your work on the world.” – Kevin Xu, Forbes Nonprofit Council
- Be authentic. “There’s no room for dishonesty or a lack of transparency on social. If you’re going to launch a CSR initiative, you must be willing to open up.” – Larry Alton, Social Media Week
- Show it—don’t just say it. “Visual content significantly boosts engagement with posts on social media. Utilize pictures and quotes to summarize your CSR mission statement and grab the attention of like-minded individuals. – Kevin Xu, Forbes Nonprofit Council
In my current professional experience, I recognize an opportunity for improvement when it comes to social media and CSR. For example, this Facebook post is a solitary broadcast of a volunteer initiative. Although it’s a feel-good demonstration of a company giving back to or improving the community, it does little to tell or expand on a larger story.
Using social media can be a great avenue to maximize the effectiveness of CSR efforts. Interested in learning more? Explore the resources that helped inform this post:
- Using Social Media for CSR Communication and Engaging Stakeholders by Imran Ali et al.
- How to Use Social Media with Your Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts by Larry Alton
- What is Corporate Social Responsibility? by Sammi Caramela
- The CSR Effect: Social Media Sentiment and the Impact on Brands by the U.S. Chamber Foundation (USCCF) and IBM
- Three Ways to Tell Your CSR Initiatives Story Through Social Media by Kevin Xu