Social Media & CSR: Past and Future Avenues for Communication

“The Revolution of the Internet has been Extraordinary”

We recently stumbled across this info-graphic that really puts the transformation of internet technology, users, and uses into a tangible perspective. The internet’s most prominent use is clearly communication. This communication spans all across the globe – but the real magic is created when tools help bend and shape communication in new ways!

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“You Can’t Escape the Advertising”

Now, in 2014, there are certain social media outlets that truly stand out among the rest. Marketers have begun to realize the “noise” that can be created from these channels. No longer do TV, Sport, Magazine, and Newspaper monopolize the advertising industry. Within the rise of the millennials lay people who have the slightest attention span for advertising. In such a trending society, it is hard for marketers to keep up and thus grab the attention of this generation. It is this exact problem that has caused social media to be so successful. Instead of interrupting the lives of those they are trying to reach, they nest ads into places like Facebook and Linkedin to subtly direct the attention of the user into a certain area. Think about it for a second- Where are the ads on Facebook? On the right side of the page of course! Personally no matter how focused I am on browsing my news feed, Facebook’s “smart” advertisements analyze the sites you have recently visited and create relevant content that is sure to capture your attention. These constantly pop up on the side of your homepage and sporadically within your news feed.

“Social Media in Relation to CSR”

The Facts:

There are millions and millions of people who utilize these social networks- take advantage of them! For example, here is a run down of the users for the top social networks. Facebook has over 1,110,000,000 monthly active users (StatisticBrain), Twitter has 554,750,000 total active registered users (StatisticBrain), Linkedin has 248,486,181 users (socialbakers),  Pinterest has over 70 million users (Semiocast), and Instagram has over 80 million registered users who have shared nearly 4 billion photos (Instagram)How incredible! If companies do not choose to communicate via social media, they are missing out on a billion plus people- just in the case of Facebook!

Cone Communication & Relevant Studies Reveal Importance of Social Media:

A trusted source of research, Cone Communications, recently came up with the CSR Social Score. This score objectively measures the degree to which companies have embraced social media in their CSR efforts. The overall goal is to rate companies on how effectively they’re utilizing social media to both engage &  inform stakeholders on CSR topics.

Learn more in this TriplePundit interview with Anne Fajon from Cone Communications below.

Cone also conducted a study with Echo which included 10,000 people in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Brazil, Germany, France, Russia, China, India and Japan. This study reported that 62% of them say they currently use social media to follow CSR issues. About 34% say they use social media to share positive information, 26% say they use it to share negative information, and 29% report using social media to learn more about the causes and companies they care about.

Wired Workforce, Networked CSR

This new white paper by Howard Greenstein and Tom Watson studied “several large American corporations who are using social media and who have found ways to involve employees, customers and stakeholders as they seek to achieve their CSR goals.”

They found that:

1. Companies are more comfortable using social media tools internally, but they’re waiting for external adoption by marketing before moving ahead to use them in CSR type efforts.
2. Employees seek choice and appreciate democratic participation.
3. Leadership is required to ensure continued participation in corporate giving campaigns, since employee participation is decreasing.
4. Both social media and traditional communications methods are used in employee giving campaigns and external outreach to communities.
5. Formal feedback loops for social media are the exception rather than the rule

TAKEAWAY:

Take a look at this info-graphic below to help you mold your company’s CSR communication via social media in the most effective way!

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Tips for CSR Communication

  • Become an influencer. Ask questions to start conversation and give your input in current conversations.
  • Be transparent, honest, and credible. This will help you earn- and keep- the trust of your audience.
  • Show consistency with your approach. Send the same message and exude the same ‘feel’ throughout all social media outlets. You want to brand yourself the same way. Be genuine.
  • Research. Find out what times your consumers are online the most and post then. Know the demographics of the people you are talking to and serve them appropriately. Keep up to date with new ways of communication through social media, as the industry is always changing!
  • Engage your audience.  Host Google hangouts, webinars & Twitter chats, have an active image via Instagram and Pinterest, and post events on Facebook.

 

See more at:

http://www.csrwire.com/blog/posts/721-a-guide-to-social-media-for-csr-professionals#sthash.snQod3e5.dpuf

http://www.triplepundit.com/2013/06/video-interview-anne-fajon-csr-and-social-media/

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/200978/#ixzz2aSoW6C9U

http://www.scribd.com/doc/54161974/Wired-Workforce-Networked-CSR-Final

http://onphilanthropy.com/2011/social-media-and-csr-are-we-there-yet-new-white-paper/

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The CSR Return

Let’s just give you the call to action up front: companies need to embrace social media, communicate the CSR return and make it personal! Why? Because these are the expectations for businesses today: be profitable and actively participate or drive solutions to our worlds biggest challenges. Now that the scene is set, let’s delve into the particulars.

Embracing Social Media

How can I put this lightly, embrace social media now!!! 

social media

Those companies who have yet to embrace social media are behind and will forever spend time catching up if they don’t begin connecting through social mediums. If you are one of those companies that have yet to do this, do something now or  you may never catch up. Your goal is to create a presence in the space. Become a thought leader. This can be done by:

  • Joining in on the conversations in your space
  • Sharing insightful information
  • Retweeting things you agree with
  • Expanding the reach of your posts
  • Obtaining loyal followers
  • Creating a blog, twitter, linkedin, facebook, etc

The millennial generation is completely connected and driven by social media. You can not miss out on having a piece of the millennial demand pie that is awaiting your bite!

Communicate CSR Return

According to the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, there is a general association between financial performance and CSR expenditures;however, they believe it is irresponsible to rely on such generalized results.

WhatisCSR Instead, proponents of CSR must clearly demonstrate the impact of specific initiatives in measurable terms to advance the merits of CSR.They say the biggest challenge around CSR is that investors perceive it as discretionary spending unrelated to operational performance. When in reality, rich companies are the ones investing in CSR initiatives. Therefore, the overall level of CSR investment does have an impact on market perceptions because investors expect that only successful companies have enough cash and resources to sustain CSR expenditures.  They provide the following example “when expanding into international markets, executives might choose to support causes or programs in these countries. Since investors expect successful companies to maintain CSR investment, corporate leaders should determine where these expenditures will make the greatest impact”. So now that we know rich companies are experiencing a ROI with CSR, why can’t other companies invest and ultimately do the same? Regardless of company wealth, the end goal is to communicate CSR collective return, rally participation and  inspire involvement through the provided evidence.

Be Personal

CSR joke1When communicating the CSR ROI, it is imperative to be personal. Consumers want genuine and transparent information and involvement. Cone Communications 2013 Annual Social Responsibly Study found that 91% global citizens are eager to hear about CSR initiatives/progress with honest and clear messages.The key to communication is utilizing honesty and clarity.  The same study revealed that 70% of people are confused by messages companies use to talk about CSR initiative. Creating a tangible, clear and consistent message is what builds trust. Without trust you have nothing and the investment you have made in CSR is all for nothing. Why? Because it was not genuine and didn’t create true meaning. Instead of creating meaningless CSR programs, find something the employees or consumers you service care about! Relate to those people who keep your company going. Be personal with them. Show them that you care what they think and want.

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Community Impact University Style

We believe Universities have the power to have an incredible impact on society. We have seen this first hand as we have helped unite students, alumni and faculty in giving back millions in service, in-kind and cash donations.

Case in point, University of California, San Diego.  Through leveraging our simple and streamlined online platform, UCSD donated thousands of hours and was recognized as the #1 school for service in America.

This video gives a small look into how we’ve worked with other universities to unite students, faculty, and alumni around community service.

“I realize that idealism is out of sync with the cynicism of our age. Skepticism has come to be synonymous with sophistication, and glibness is mistaken for intelligence. In such an atmosphere why bother aiming high? Far too many people don’t. I just want to reassure people to have the courage to persevere, to keep following their hearts even when others scoff. Don’t be beaten down by naysayers. Don’t let the odds scare you from even trying.”- Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks

“I realize that…

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United We Stand

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Envision tiptoeing along the narrow bridge that covers the deep Royal Gorge in Colorado uniting both unique sides of this vast gap. Now pretend you are sitting in your office and look around at all the types of people you see. I can guarantee that you conduct daily business with people who are both young and old. This is our reality. We constantly must walk the line to find innovative ways to unite the two unique sides of the generation gap that currently divides our day-to-day business. We must find ways that utilize both the “new” and the “old” ways of doing things. So with this in mind, ponder what happens when these extremely different generations come together and are united?

 “Uniting the generation gap”

Let us be the first to tell you. You exceed expectation! This was certainly the case with University of California San Diego who accomplished a victory they could have never imagined. UCSD had a goal of uniting the generation gap with their university organization. They wanted to bring faculty, staff, alumni and students of all ages together on their 50th year to tackle 50,000 hours of service. Profits4Purpose gave them a platform to do just that. By customizing software to meet the specific needs of such a sporadic user base, UCSD was able to not only reach the 50,00 hours of service but exceed it by 15,000 hours. That’s right; by uniting the generation gap within their organization to achieve one powerful goal, they actually surpassed it. 65,000 hours volunteered, talk about a powerful impact.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. The generation gap is an advantage, not a hindrance
  2. Uniting all parts of your organization allows you to exceed exceptions
  3. Volunteering is a great way to give back and is not an impossible task
  4. Communicate your impact!!!
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CSR = Differentiator

A strong involvement in Corporate Social Responsibility is increasingly proving itself as a huge differentiator amongst top companies. CSR has become a necessary tool for consumer loyalty and employee recruitment.

Did you know: Around the world, the majority of consumers feel that corporations and individuals are having some degree of positive influence, but just ¼ feels either is making SIGNIFICANT impact? Basically, companies are participating in CSR, but what they are doing is not creating traceable impact. Companies are shelling out millions of dollars but no one is seeing where to. This effort then seem almost pointless from the companies perspective because no one is even aware of the initiatives in place. Frustrating…

One example that immediately comes to mind when thinking about this is the problem with Pepsi Co. Does anyone remember back in 2010 when Pepsi launched their Refresh campaign? No. Me either. Why you may be wondering? No matter how much advertising and participation they had, no body knew where the money really went. Yes they gave insane amount of money via grants but to WHO? The problem here was in reporting their impact the did not say something like, “We donated $X to fund wildlife preservation initiatives” or “We changed 100,000 peoples lives through giving grants to water filtration technology?” They also did not have any way for their customers to get involved. There was no push to say, “Hey, if our customers buy 10 pepsi products they can choose a charity to be put in to a bowl and selected at random to be donated to”. Unfortunately, because of these mistakes, the campaign failed miserably even though they really did award millions in grants to create positive change. (WRONG- they did do voting and specific initiatives IE the gulf)

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Consumers are ready, willing and able to join the company in CSR efforts. You may end up acquiring new customers as well if you have a product associated with a positive message. 91% of consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given similar price and quality.

Not only does CSR attract new consumers and help keep current ones coming back, but CSR is also a factor with recruiting. The brightest people entering the industry are likely to want to work for a company that has a positive image. CSR is a factor in where to work (81%), what to buy or where to shop (87%) which companies they want in their community (85%) and products or services to recommend to others (85%).

65% People even take CSR in consideration when deciding which stocks to invest in.

88% of consumers feel responsibility to purchase products they think are socially and environmentally responsible. If you can harness this feeling then there is no reason why your company will not attract new customers. The one great thing about socially and environmentally responsible customers is that they talk. They will word of mouth market your product without you even asking. Think about the revolutionary company Toms.

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“Life’s most persistence and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” Martin Luther King Jr.

“Life’s most pe…

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Can you feel it?

“Consumers want to feel a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts 37% locally, 35% nationally, 28% globally”

What are you doing to make sure they feel your impact? If nothing yet, here are some of our ideas.

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1. Communicate your impact clearly and transparently.

70% of consumers are confused by the CSR messages their companies are sending. Do yourself a favor and avoid being this company!! Provide specific and meaningful data that reflects what is important to not only your company, but its employees as well. The outcome: consumers who can see the tangible impact and employees who feel like they apart of the company and its goals.

2. Know who your consumers are

Consumers are not how they used to be. Thanks to Globalization and wide-spread news availability, consumers are frighteningly aware of what is going on in the world around them. It’s almost like we had all been hypnotized and then one day -BAM!- everybody woke up to the snap of the media. Consumers today want to be apart of change. They are savvier, more sophisticated, and interested in the collective good of society. They want to see CSR infused into the company’s products, brand, and operations. It’s not enough anymore to merely say you are good corporation, you need to prove it to them.

3. Use effective communication channels

  • 24% on the physical product
  • 18% media
  • 15% advertising
  • 11% on the company’s website
  • 9% social media
  • 8% in store
  • 7% company sponsored community events
  • 6% mail
  • 4% phone

In a Cone Cause study of communication in the top 10 countries in the world, ranked by GDP, they found that the most effective way to communicate your impact to your consumers was directly on your products. Think about the impact Tom’s shoes has made simply by associating their initiatives with their physical product; ultimately, translating into quite the lucrative business model.  If your product is intangible, they say that media is the best way to infuse your impact. It is import to intentionally encode your messages with valuable information, so that you know it will be properly decoded by the consumer. Simply said, communication is the key to fueling a local, nation and global CSR presence.

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Get Inspired in 2014! 20 Quotes, 10 Songs, 5 Videos that are Guaranteed to Inspire!

We all need inspiration, especially in the middle of a work day on a beautiful summer day! We compiled some of our favorite inspirational videos, quotes and songs to get you through the day! Listen, watch, read and enjoy!

Videos:

Quotes:

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” - Joshua J. Marine

“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” -Oprah Winfrey

“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”- Farrah Gray

“Love what you have. Need what you want. Accept what you receive. Give what you can. Always remember, what goes around, comes around…” – Unknown

“As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” -John Whittierinsp

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -Gilbert K Chesterton

The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.” -Steve Jobs

“Good things come to those who wait… greater things come to those who get off their ass and do anything to make it happen.” - Unknown

“Forget all the reasons it won’t work and believe the one reason that it will.” - Unknown

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” - Helen Keller

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” – Bill Cosbysacrifice-your-gift-inspirational-quotes-wallpapers

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” -Charles Swindoll

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams

“No one is going to hand me success. I must go out & get it myself. That’s why I’m here. To dominate. To conquer. Both the world, and myself.” - Unknown

“Don’t be afraid to stand for what you believe in, even if that means standing alone.” - Unknown

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” –Charles Darwin

“Life has two rules: #1 Never quit #2 Always remember rule # 1.” - Unknown????????????????????????????????????????????????

Songs:

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