For companies that want to convey the impact of their giving– whether measured in volunteer hours or dollars—online video is the most powerful, cost-effective medium. Video, with its immediacy, popularity, and viral potential, represents a unique opportunity to capture the breadth of CSR’s impact, provide an intimate look at the people involved, and reach a receptive audience.
For successful CSR communications to take place, transparency is key. At least that is the message being put forth in this article that is part of a series from CSRWire entitled “2012 in Retrospect,” which explores CSR trends and practices from the last year. This particular piece notes the importance of social media in helping companies establish clear and compelling communications regarding their CSR activities. Despite the growing interest in CSR efforts and sustainability on the part of the customers, 63% of them say that they do not know where to find information regarding the results of a company’s CSR efforts, and 55% say they do not understand the impact they are having when buying a so-called socially responsible product.
This is where social media can play a critical role. Social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn create information pathways for key stakeholders including customers, employees and communities, providing a competitive advantage for companies that want to not only deliver sustainability results, but also, share them with the proper audiences.
The article explains, “Communicating purpose driven, resource rich, intelligent information and data to stakeholder groups is critical. Listening and engaging to stakeholder groups is an even more sophisticated task. Social media is paving the way as a communications agent and requires precision to capture the benefits.” Social media can communicate the results and performance of a CSR campaign in real time allowing customers and other key audiences to engage with a company on their own terms and their own time, as opposed to an annual CSR report that can feel stagnate capturing only a certain period of time. Organizations who effectively participate in social media can demonstrate the impact of their sustainability, volunteerism and philanthropic efforts while enhancing the perception of their corporate brand, and engaging CSR minded stakeholders with transparency and authenticity.
What social media trends can be expected to emerge as critical CSR communications tools in 2013? Social media will allow companies to engage with a following of people on a personal level, allowing them to monitor performance and share relevant information on CSR related issues that can allow for expansion and improvement. Responsible advertising via social media will also become more prevalent as it will allow companies to share information regarding the sourcing of materials, proper disposal and recycling practices used, generally demonstrating the steps they are taking in real time. Video will also play an ever-increasing role in communications, especially in social media channels. Youtube alone is the second most trafficked site on the Internet. As we examined in this recent whitepaper, video, because of its malleability, the ease with which it can be consumed and shared, and its ability to combine multiple mediums makes it a particularly engaging, cost-effective, and persuasive medium for telling the CSR story.
Social media should be at the forefront of any CSR campaign strategy as it can help build sustainable business communications ensuring increased trust and loyalty among key audiences, ultimately leading to business benefits. What better way to promote brand messaging and sustainability, volunteerism and philanthropic efforts than through social forums where people can feel truly connected and engaged with the CSR efforts they feel so strongly about, contributing to the progress of these campaigns in the future.