Traditionally, corporations did not want to share their volunteer hours or donation amounts publicly because they did not the public to think they were bragging. Times have changed. When it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility, it’s important to share your good works with your constituents.
Consumers continue to place demands on corporations to share their good works and CSR policies. They will talk about you no matter what, so it behooves you to take control over the information shared.
According to the 2015 Cone Communications/ Ebiquity Global CSR Study, consumers look beyond the traditional CSR report to learn about corporate citizenship activities. Social media is increasing in importance as an effective communication vehicle for social and environmental programs and products. In 2011, 7% of surveyed consumers indicated social media as the most effective channel; this number increased to 13% in 2015.
Not only do consumers view social media as an effective communication channel but also as a means to share their opinions and thoughts regarding corporations and their CSR programs. According to the Cone Communications/ Ebiquity Global study, “61% of global consumers use social media to address or engage with companies around CSR issues.” The majority of users (34%) utilize social media to communicate positive information about companies and CSR issues. Thirty percent of users use social media as a way to gather information about CSR issues, and 25% use social media as a way to communicate negative information. Your consumers are out there looking for information, and they speak positively about your efforts! Take advantage of social media as a tool to inspire, inform, and engage your consumers in giving back.
Here are five tips to successfully engage consumers in your corporate philanthropy efforts through social media:
(1) Be authentic
Do not overstate your commitments or downplay your failures or setbacks. Consumers demand transparency and authenticity from brands. By sharing challenges, you open the door for conversations that may create solutions. Start by hosting a twitter chat on the current issues your company and industry face in CSR and invite your charity partners and other stakeholders to participate.
(2) Inspire your consumers to take action
Social media is the perfect means to share campaigns that inspire your consumers to take actions that benefit the community.
In recognition of International Women’s Day (March 8), Cisco created its first Social Sharing Campaign. This 24-hour Twitter event encouraged Twitter users to retweet any of Cisco CSR’s tweets around Opportunity International, Water for People, or TechBridge. Cisco agreed to donate $1 for every tweet shared on International Women’s Day, up to $25,000.
This campaign inspired Twitter users to act as a Global Problem Solver for Women while raising awareness and funds for three worthy causes.
(3) Promote a cause
As indicated above, social media users use social media to find information about CSR. Use your social platforms to communicate information about timely causes.
For example, if your consumer base is primarily women, encourage your followers to take action during National Women’s Health Week to protect their health. You will inform your consumers, and they will view your brand as a brand that cares.
(4) Feature your employees
Your employees actively engage in volunteering and giving. Feature them in your social media campaigns, and share their passions and causes on your social media platforms. Your employees will appreciate you recognizing them as changemakers, and your consumer base will appreciate putting a face with your brand.
(5) Engage with your followers
This probably goes without saying, but don’t forget to engage with your followers! Respond to their comments (both positive and negative), share relevant information, answer their questions, and like their comments and questions.
Your consumers and stakeholders thirst for knowledge surrounding your giving and volunteering programs. Don’t be hesitant to share your CSR statistics or opinions on current environmental or social concerns! You may inspire your constituents to join you on your journey to enact social change.