Social Media: Make it More Responsible

In the past, corporate public relations have been very one-sided. You could read about a person or company in a press release, newspaper, or magazine, but until the days of web 2.0, it was very difficult for the public to reach out, converse, and respond. Yes, you could send an email or letter, but for the most part, the majority of responses remained behind closed doors.

Overthe last few years, social media has changed the face of public relations in two fundamental ways: (1) it's now possible to distribute and share news quickly and without delay and (2) PR is no longer a one-sided conversation. For the most part, companies have quickly understood point one-- establishing blogs, content partnerships, and Twitter accounts to distribute news quickly. But what about point 2? On a day to day basis, we use social media to reach out to our audiences, but do we listen to our audiences when they reach out to us? The answer to this question exists within a gray area within the heart of responsible business-- everyday personal decisions.

Just as social media is a powerful broadcasting tool, it is also a powerful CSR tool. While we focus on "sharing," we should also focus on listening and embracing. People have valuable insight to provide, so it is imperative that we listen and respond to the best extent possible. Yes, we should think before we speak, but we shouldn't be afraid to inspire or participate in open dialogue. Companies are influential, social media is powerful, and we should use that influence and power for good. We should see what's going in beyond crunched numbers to see what people are saying and demanding-- and, we should encourage people to express themselves. Ultimately, it's that self-expression that helps businesses thrive by facilitating competition and encouraging us to become better. It's this forward-thinking attitude that inspires us to continuously innovate.

So who should leverage social media as a responsible career? For the most part, companies are using social media in two ways-- to promote their brand identities and to give personalities to their CEOS. No matter where you fall in this spectrum, it's possible to make a responsible social media career decision. As a CEO or leader, you can take a few minutes to listen to your audience's feedback. Don't be afraid to hear what people think of you. As an entry-level social media analyst, you can make an extra effort to identify CSR trends and to follow up with constructive feedback. Take that extra step to establish yourself as social media leader too.

Social media has amazing potential for influencing CSR. Think before you speak, and understand the implications of what you are and aren't doing-- and never underestimate the power of saying "thanks."

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