Social Media in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Feb 13, 2012 11:47 AM ET

If you’re wondering why social media should be a key part of your communications strategy, just note these current statistics demonstrating the ubiquity of the medium:

  • Facebook now boasts more than 800 million active users worldwide, and more than half of these log on to the network on any given day.

  • Twitter too is no slouch (and growing), with 200 million registered users, one quarter of whom tweet daily.

Want more justifying numbers? A recent infographic on MediaBistro lists more compelling stats―like, say, the fact that 56% of consumers are likely to recommend a brand to a friend after becoming a fan on Facebook, and 20% of marketers have closed sales using Twitter.

Given that social media networks are timely (if not immediate) communications platforms that are interactive, and therefore― if used correctly (that is, authentically)―engaging, their success in marketing should come as no surprise.

But what about moving beyond sales, using social media as an integral component of a comprehensive CSR program? Here’s how some well-known corporations are doing just that (as noted in parts one and three of a Carbon Outreach blog series on social media for social good):

Large companies like AmExAppleDellGap, and Nike have worked with(RED) to create (PRODUCT)RED-branded products. Up to 50% of the gross profits from sales of these products goes to a global fund to fight AIDS. To date, (RED) has successfully generated $180 million for the global fund.
Seventh Generation’s social media strategy is designed to engage and educate its target audience on ethical, environmentally friendly cleaning products, with an end goal of slotting Seventh Gen into that industry’s leadership position.
Starbucks uses Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to deliver education (and achieve industry leadership) around ethical coffee making and distribution. Starbucks also has its own community, MyStarbucksIdea, where users can share ideas. With hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers and millions of Facebook fans, Starbucks is a social superstar whose success is referenced by the likes of the Brand Channel, Carbon Outreach,  Mashable, Social Media Examiner, and The Next Web.
Like Starbucks, Cisco sponsors its own community as part of a larger CSR effort. Cisco’s is a Web destination where education leaders connect  to improve education access, equity, and quality worldwide. The site hosts affinity groups and discussions, blogs, daily news, and resources on a range of relevant topics, including education policy, educational technology, and media literacy. While small in comparison to the campaigns of, for example, Starbucks, has a targeted and highly engaged social media following, as evidenced by SocialMention scores that far surpass the big boys on the pillars of audience sentiment and passion.
Cisco Systems