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October 18, 2017

How Episodic Are CSR Campaigns on Social Media Platforms

Florida is slowly getting back to normalcy after the widespread destruction and flooding caused by Hurricane Irma. Without a bit of hesitancy, brands are taking stands to offer help. Responding to such calamitous effect allows every corporate body to prove their support and commitment to not only their customers but also to the communities. After all, both performance and commitments are the two components of value creation for any brand. But, it does not stop here. Reporting your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities is very important today. Companies that report their CSR activities tend to be transparent. By now, the power of social media is well understood. There is no denying that social media platforms have some of the best influencers and advocates. Social media platforms can make CSRs more interactive and more episodic. They stand today as a proponent of CSR.

• The number of social media users as of 2017 comes to 2.46 billion and is likely to touch 2.95 billion by 2020.

• Social media usage per person per day is cited as 135 minutes.

Considering these recent changes, it’s worth analyzing your CSR approach, and maybe trying out some new tactics using social networks.

“Show to the world that you care about them. By doing this well, you will do well.”

A Social Responsibility Initiative is highly valued and shared in social media

CSR activities in social media simply reflects a company’s:

• Credibility

• Capacity

• Coherence

• Commitment

“Companies must now share not only what they stand for, but what they stand up for,” says 2017 Global CSR Study.

Consumers are Always in Search of “More Good” From a Brand

The book, “Business and Society: Ethics and Stakeholder Management,” describes corporate social responsibility as the “economic, legal, ethical, and discretionary expectations that society has of organizations at a given point in time.” Companies that are serious about their CSR commitments are always powerful. Any content related to social responsibility issues have always activated the audience. Such stories have long-term impact and value. It is a way to strengthen brand power. Although corporate and social initiatives are always intertwined, it is equally important to create and improve every stakeholder’s value. The pressing factor of this age is to be known by all of your activities. This reinforces that only those who meet the quest for online engagement by becoming a corporate differentiator are recognized well.

Take the Initiative to your Social Media Audience

Communicating the value that you generate is critical today. Interestingly, this interconnected globalized world has opened up the spectrum of communication and information sharing to a great extent. Social media is integrated into every business operation today. And social media marketing  is used by an incredible number of marketers today.

Given that consumers today see eye-to-eye on how much value you create; by what type of activity, it is easy to understand that every brand should know to communicate that value effectively. Social media platforms act now as the legitimate channel for exchange of information regarding a company’s CSR related initiatives. LinkedIn and Facebook lead the pack followed by Twitter and YouTube.

# Seek Engagement

“Businesses have responsibility to focus on social issues; they can make profit too.”

Companies that have increased interest in CSR should also learn to liberally share such stories on social media platforms for a combination of reasons. Although such initiatives are adopted purely with an intention to enhance the brand image, the process helps in becoming competitive and in gathering a good impression.

Case Study: Starbucks, its reputation and Social Responsibility in Social Media

Corporate social responsibility is key to any brand’s reputation. The bottom line is people, planet and profit.

Starbucks opened its first store way back in 1971. Apart from celebrating its rich coffee tradition, the company had its prime focus on connecting with its customers and communities right from day one. The company turned out to be different when it came to its commitment to customers and service. With operations in 75 countries and counting, 25,734 retail stores and 300,000-plus wearing the green apron globally, the brand has not left any stone unturned to impress its stakeholders.

A Snapshot of Starbucks’ CSR Initiative

Starbucks started its CSR activities way back. Starbucks was one of the few that reported such initiatives from the early 2000s. A lot has changed since then. The company has been working with a mission to protect the environment. It has never failed to urge others to do the same. Right from supporting local communities, to educating and empowering its staff members, to creating employment via supporting minorities, to gender equalities, to participating in sustaining challenges, to recruiting refugees and veterans, the company has been operating from day one with a sensitivity to social problems.

1. Giving back to the community

2. Environmental Stewardship

3. Ethically Sourced Coffee

Moving beyond its commitment to 100 percent ethically sourced coffee, the company joins proudly the others who are in the process of making coffee as the most sustainable agricultural product.

4. Wellness and Diversity

An Evolvement of Corporate Actions – A move towards social media

Today, Starbucks is brewing strong in social media via its multiple CSR campaigns. The way the company reacted to Florida’s destruction due to the hurricane is astonishing. Within 24 hours of the declaration of emergency, the company activated the POS contribution nationally to enable its customers to contribute to the American Red Cross relief efforts. The Starbucks Foundation generously contributed $250,000. Simultaneously, the Starbucks App kept urging its customers across the country to donate as well.

Have a look at the following picture to understand how the company saw an increase in its Twitter followers during the hurricane weeks.

Overall Win-Win

• Improved brand identity

• Improved customer relationship

• Improved business performance

• Enhanced marketing efforts

• Significant anecdotal support

Social Media Fan following Count of Starbucks (2017)

Key Take Away: There is nothing that can get better by chance; it gets better only by the change. So, make the change right now if you have not tried promoting your CSR initiative on social media platforms. Ultimately, the closer you connect your CSR initiative with your audience, the more likely it is going to (a) gain appreciation and (b) fetch a profit. Research indicates that nearly 80 percent of consumers make their purchase decision by considering a brand’s CSR involvement. This in itself should persuade any business to take complete advantage of this strategy.

Key Approaches to have a strong CSR reputation

Video stirs up views and shares

“Every second, a million minutes of video content will cross the network by 2021,” says a new study. This is the power of video. Video brings life to all of your marketing initiatives today. Viewers can instantly capture the length and breadth of whatever your message intends to communicate. When it comes to CSR, videos allow you to communicate with your audience in a compelling way as visual treats are always welcome on social media. A tip here is to make the video short and allow it to resonate. You can even think of live streaming your CSR event.

Picture only the truth

Face it if you fake it. This is the reality. Although there is a pressure to dress up any CSR initiative today, do not get distracted from your goal. Be authentic. Apart from creating economic value, your CSR story should create value for the society. Picture only this and project only this truth in your story. Be transparent with your CSR story. If you go wrong, beware of the consumer watchdogs who won’t hesitate to find fault.

Let it Add Value

Let the substance of your CSR create value, both economic and social. “Every piece of your content should be excellent enough that customers are compelled to share it,” says Joe Pulizzi. The value you create is the only path to building a deeper relationship with your customers. So, don’t lose track.

Depict Diversity

Be it an organization or individual, recognizing and respecting others in society is critical. Create an environment that respects diversity. Include a CSR theme that will explicitly focus on diversity. Apart from being the most impactful strategy this, when amalgamated with social media, can fetch you the title of “good, trustworthy and reliable brand.”

To Wrap

Overall, the huge change that we have been seeing on social media networks is the way companies and brands have been using social media platforms to engage the audience. Sharing videos and a good story is one of the best ways to connect on social media. Do not hesitate. The inclusion of CSR on social media has a high impact on the overall effectiveness of your brand-building strategy. Let your customers capture the relationship you have with society and the environment. Use social media.


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Meenakshi Krishnan works for OpenXcell, a pioneering mobile app development company in India and the USA. A techie at heart, Meenakshi is passionate about the start-up ecosystem, entrepreneurship, latest tech innovations, and all that makes this digital world. When she is not writing, she loves to read, cook and paint. Prior to this, she was working for a technology marketing company based in Norwalk as a content contributor. You can reach Meenakshi at LinkedIn and Twitter.

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