Community Management, Digital Marketing, Guest Posts, Social Media Case Studies, Brand Communities, PR 20

Tying Together Social Media and Corporate Social Responsibility

Guest post by Laura Hall, Managing Partner at PainePR. She leads the agency’s social media group, and has more than 20 years experience in consumer, technology, B2B and social media marketing.

As the world continues to watch the devastation caused by the BP oil spill, it shines the light much brighter on the impact that major companies have on society while increasing consumer concerns about business practices.

Build Your Defense Shield

Especially in times of crisis, it’s a company’s obligation to be as open and transparent as possible, as well as to communicate most expeditiously to those consumers impacted. The most efficient way to do this today is online. Yet before a crisis erupts, no matter what the root of the issue, companies should cushion themselves by leveraging the good work they’re already doing. Building a network of supporters over time that aligns with a company’s values and actions only help protect a company in times of trouble.

Take a look at the company’s philanthropic endeavors and cause-related initiatives, especially in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). There are a few straightforward social media strategies that companies should implement to highlight their commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) to help build their social media shield and gain supporters.

Don’t be Shy. Share it!

If a company is “doing good,” don’t be shy about talking about it. The taboo of never tooting your own horn with a press release about your good deeds clearly has crumbled in corporate America, and companies today are not only promoting philanthropy through social networks, they’re building unique Facebook pages and Twitter profiles for these important programs. All in the spirit of sharing good news, companies have a huge opportunity to ride the high wave of CSR through social media, spread the word, amplify their cause(s) and galvanize powerful network of friends.

Be Committed to CSR

As mentioned, it’s critical to be transparent when it comes to a company’s CSR program, especially when harnessing social networking platforms. By transparent, I mean keep it real and no lip service. Online consumers are savvy and being open and communicative is vital to reputation management.

Showcase the strides that the company has made for the cause, whether this means funds donated, awareness raised, consumers reached, beneficiaries helped, communities improved, etc. Highlight the company’s long-term commitment and that of its supporters and partners. Rally third-party endorsers to help share your stories.

A good example of a company’s CSR successes is Target® with its long-standing commitment to schools and education. Most recently, Target partnered with Search Institute® to develop the ‘Turn Summer Play into Summer Learning’ series on its Facebook page, which provides parents with fun, weekly tips to help their child’s mind stay active during the summer with research on how it makes a positive impact on child development. While demonstrating the company’s commitment to education, Target also created a local solution to a national issue by personally connecting with parents through a timely and innovative social media campaign.

Seek to Engage

As the adage goes, “there’s power in numbers” and social media provides companies – who actively engage – with an influential, built-in network of passionate consumers that become followers of a brand when interested in what it’s doing. One way to build a following and keep them involved is by deploying a fun, creative way for supporters to participate and share with online friends.

For a real-world case of this strategy, take a look at Future Friendly – a program developed by Procter & Gamble (P&G) to help consumers save energy, conserve water and reduce waste. As part of the program’s social media initiative, it created ‘The Future Friendly Challenge’ on Facebook, which encouraged participation by offering each follower:
• A P&G donation of one day of clean drinking water to Children’s Safe Drinking Water
• A pledge to commit to saving energy, conserving water or reducing waste for 90 days
• A custom app to post participation in ‘The Challenge’ to their Facebook wall and their friends’ home pages
• Tool to challenge their friends, send a page invitation and share their ‘Challenge’ tips with others based on their experiences

Through this simple Facebook strategy, this online initiative generated strong ROE (Return On Engagement) over just a few months:
• More than 20,000 followers have taken the challenge and committed to saving energy, water or reducing waste for 90 days – this translates to over 20,000 days of clean drinking water donated
• More than 7,000 posts have been made by supports with their tips and experiences on how to save energy, conserve water and reduce waste
• There is an active and engaged community among the nearly 48,000 followers

These two examples are CSR social media strategies that have undoubtedly amplified the good actions of these companies all while generating droves of supporters. From raising awareness, to connecting with consumers in the way they want to engage and fostering positive action, leveraging CSR in the social media world can strengthen consumer trust and loyalty, encourage followers (and their friends) to take action and participate, and put a halo over the brand that dives in.

Facebook Comments


  1. says

    And, it's not just about businesses 'tooting' their own horn. Mentioning – or even featuring – corporate involvement is an effective means to raise awareness and need, especially for lesser-known (but equally deserving) charities and causes. Great thoughts, Laura!

  2. says

    CSR is another form of cause marketing, IMO, and the sooner that companies fully embrace social media to further their social/sustainability message, the better. It's another opportunity to tell and share stories. Great post!


  3. danperez says

    Laura, you've made several good points, especially with the Target & P&G examples. However, statistics show that such use of social media is still not widely utilized by most companies. Ultimately, until ROE (Return On Engagement) = the ROI of implementing a company-wide social media initiative (the cost of training, training materials, etc), most companies will still be dragging their feet when it comes to CSR social media strategies.

  4. Anne says

    Social media is gaining so much momentum that so it’s becoming a if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em scenario. Not to mention there are more benefits from using social networking sites showing every day. Employees are going to find a way around the policy and CIOs or IT departments should try to find a happy medium where some social media apps will be blocked and some left accessible. Palo Alto Networks created a new software that any IT department would be interested in. Here’s a whitepaper they created:

  5. Lily says

    A very interesting post!

    I agree with danperez on REO and in addition I have to add the time consuming aspect of social media. But regardless of ROE measurabilirt, social media without a doubt provides brand engagement by turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhaced by the surrounding context.

  6. Brian611 says

    great post Anne! the new software created by Palo Alto is definitely worth the investment, it allows businesses to block the parts of social media they do want, but allow other parts to be accessible for employees to be productive while using social media as a source of business. Don't beat them, join them!

  7. letstalkandchat says

    I just found a great company that builds websites for info products. To keep your costs low, they’ll mentor you on how to create your site, design a marketing funnel (one of the guys works in Hollywood and makes really slick videos), and the other guy programmed Myspace. If you’re looking to have professional web design for your small business and not waste any time or money then check their site out. Check them out:

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