Webinar Recap: Social Media + Corporate Responsibility - How to Amplify and Measure Your Impact

Jul 12, 2012 3:00 PM ET

Volunteering Is CSR

For the June edition of our Best Practice Network Webinar Series, we spoke with Susan McPherson and John Gordon of Fenton, a public interest communications firm that specializes in non-profit organizations. Susan and John tackled the increasingly important topic of social media and how to incorporate it into your CSR strategy.

Why use social media?

A 2011 study found that a company’s CSR program can not only increase internal morale and efficiency, but also account for up to 40% of its reputation.

Getting the word out about your company’s CSR program is important, and social media can help you do it. Social media’s potential for conversation, interaction and promotion makes it an essential tool for any company trying to build its brand and reputation. However, with so many different channels, your strategy and message can get muddled.

Check out Susan and John’s five tips for maximizing social media use and CSR efforts:

1) Lead from the top and bottom.
In the age of digital technology, you are no longer the sole owner of the conversation about your brand. Your company, your consumers and the media each have a voice that impacts the way your business is seen, so engaging these players is more important than ever. Communication is not always about promoting your products and services. When using social media, it’s an interactive two-way street.

2) Be consistent.
Social media and CSR should be baked into every aspect of your business. Consumers will notice mixed or inauthentic messaging, and it’s your responsibility to make sure both CSR and social media play prominent roles in every element of your company.

3) Communicate and share.
Social media is great for promotion, but it also enables candid discussion of your business, its future and its customers. The key to successful social media strategy is mutual interaction, so don’t be afraid to engage peer companies and individuals.

4) Invest.
It’s crucial to allocate resources to social media and CSR campaigns. Even in smaller businesses strapped for time or staff, authentic investment is crucial to success. Remember: customers can tell if you’re faking your commitment.

5) Your customers are your greatest salespeople.
Doing good can be great for your business, but making sure everyone knows about your impact is even better. Social media enables you to inform and involve your customers in your CSR strategy.

After sharing their five tips, John and Susan invited attendees to ask questions. Here are a couple highlights:

Some companies have a policy around how employees should talk about their CSR program using social media. Is a policy something you would recommend or does that take the fun out of it?

A social media policy can definitely be a good thing, because it tells employees that the company encourages and is on board with them using social media. It’s especially important for big corporations or publicly-traded companies. However, a social media policy should not be a big list of “don’ts.” Instead, it can promote social media tips and best practice, allowing for creativity on the part of the employee. Be sure to recognize employees who successfully engage using social media.

Where do you draw the line between effectively communicating the work that you’re doing via social media and bragging?

Let the work speak for itself. For instance, if you are providing a grant to an organization, have the organization speak on your behalf. Furthermore, encourage all employees — not just those in the CSR department — to promote your work via social media. That way, word gets out and your company doesn’t come off as self-important. Lastly, don’t forget that there’s an inherent value in spreading the word about your good work; it’s not bragging if you’re promoting and elevating your cause.

What should companies be tracking — followers, Likes, and fans or tangible actions?

The only metric that matters is that which your particular business defines as success. Depending on your company, that could be the percentage of employees who volunteer, or the number of downloads of your whitepaper. Things like followers, Likes and fans can be valuable stepping stones toward that outcome, but a large number of Twitter followers is not your ultimate goal.

Check out Fenton’s social media guide See, Say, Feel, Do to learn how best to employ and measure your social media strategy. You can also follow Susan and John on Twitter at @susanmcp1 and @j6ordon.

Watch the full webinar here.

Don’t miss our next Best Practice Network Webinar on July 25th. Register now for Small Business, Big Engagement: Trends and Best Practices in Using Social Media to Tell the Small Business CSR Story!