How Social Media Impacts Corporate Social Responsibility

I recently wrote about what I saw as the 5 fundamentals of social media and, following a couple of interesting posts this week I am wondering if I should add a sixth – that of Corporate Social Responsibility. In an article for Advertising Age, Allen Adamson, following conversations with Mark Pritchard from Proctor & Gamble, and others, and citing the examples of brands such as Subway and Timberland, has come to the conclusion that “If Doing Good Isn’t Part of Your DNA, Consumers Won’t Buy It” Consumers, he argues,
“are increasingly making purchase decisions based on how good a brand is relative to its impact on society, because they see it as an opportunity to have a positive impact on the world, even if only in small ways. And the transparency of digital technology makes it easy for them to see which brands are doing the best job at being socially responsible.
http://adage.com/cmostrategy/article?article_id=139194 – If consumers don’t get the intrinsic link between brand benefit and social purpose, they won’t buy it, literally or figuratively.”
In Britain, David Connor at justmeans.com highlights the importance of the role of social media in creating awareness of social and environmental issues, and highlights the close relationship between the rise of information availability and the rise in Corporate social Responsibility –
“You cannot underestimate the impact of social media on this level of awareness, and thus education. As Clay Shirky articulately presents on his TED Talks summary of historical revolutions in media, “we are all now both consumers and producers of information” he says.” [highlight all & and]
It is certainly clear from the recent example of the reaction to Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, comments in the Wall Street Journal [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204251404574342170072865070.html] that socially conscious and aware consumers can have had a dramatic effect on consumer’s opinion of the brand, as the recent research study by YouGov and appearing in Mashable.com, shows. As the Mashable post says, “Should YouGov’s research be as accurate as it claims to be, then Whole Foods definitely needs to be concerned about this social media backlash that’s negatively impacting consumer opinion.”
As Whole Foods Boycott Grows on Facebook, Brand Perception Drops
On a more positive note, clothing and sports gear retailer, Patagonia’s long time mission to “use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” has helped the company differentiate itself from is competitors and create a strong connection between its brand and its cause.
Social media, Kasey Kersnowski, Patagonia.com and The Cleanest Line’s managing editor tells The Viral Gardens’ Mack Collier, has “helped us get to know our customers better and empowered them to play a bigger part in Patagonia’s success. The fact that the comments are now public has given our customers a more potent voice… [and] the Cleanest Line (Patagonia’s blog) also helps us embrace a more transparent business model.
Transparency is an important quality to embrace if you plan on engaging in conversation with customers –  lest your level of responsibility is tested in the public forum! There is already a site called GoodGuide, highlighted in another Advertising Age post, that “puts brands ethical claims to the test and scrutinizes 75,000 products to expose those who overhype”. You have been warned!
If, indeed, genuine Corporate Social Responsibility is to become a necessary part of the new business’paradigm’ then, as a big proponent of Fair Trade, I myself most heartedly applaud and hope that as social media marketers we can play a small part in helping companies to tell their stories and inspire their own customers.
I recently wrote about what I saw as the 5 fundamentals of social media and, following a couple of interesting posts this week I am wondering if I should add a sixth – that of Corporate Social Responsibility. In an article for Advertising Age, Allen Adamson, following conversations with Mark Pritchard from Proctor & Gamble, and others, and citing the examples of brands such as Subway and Timberland, has come to the conclusion that “If Doing Good Isn’t Part of Your DNA, Consumers Won’t Buy It“.   Consumers, he argues,
“are increasingly making purchase decisions based on how good a brand is relative to its impact on society, because they see it as an opportunity to have a positive impact on the world, even if only in small ways. And the transparency of digital technology makes it easy for them to see which brands are doing the best job at being socially responsible. If consumers don’t get the intrinsic link between brand benefit and social purpose, they won’t buy it, literally or figuratively.”

In Britain, David Connor at justmeans.com highlights the importance of the role of social media in creating awareness of social and environmental issues, and highlights the close relationship between the rise of information availability and the rise in Corporate social Responsibility –
“You cannot underestimate the impact of social media on this level of awareness, and thus education. As Clay Shirky articulately presents on his TED Talks summary of historical revolutions in media, “we are all now both consumers and producers of information” he says.”

It is certainly clear from the recent example of the reaction to Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey’s, comments in the Wall Street Journal that, whatever the merits of the argument, socially conscious and aware consumers can have a dramatic effect on consumer’s opinion of the brand, as the recent research study by YouGov and appearing in Mashable.com, shows. As the Mashable post [As Whole Foods Boycott Grows on Facebook, Brand Perception Drops] says,
“Should YouGov’s research be as accurate as it claims to be, then Whole Foods definitely needs to be concerned about this social media backlash that’s negatively impacting consumer opinion.”

However, ‘doing good’ seems to have very positive impact on consumer opinion. One example that came up today is clothing and sports gear retailer, Patagonia. Their long time mission to “use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” has helped the company differentiate itself from is competitors and create a strong connection between its brand and its cause.
“helped us get to know our customers better and empowered them to play a bigger part in Patagonia’s success. The fact that the comments are now public has given our customers a more potent voice… [and] the Cleanest Line (Patagonia’s blog) also helps us embrace a more transparent business model.”

Transparency is an important quality to embrace if you plan on engaging in conversation with customers –  lest your level of responsibility is tested in the public forum! There is already a site called GoodGuide, highlighted in another Advertising Age post, that “puts brands ethical claims to the test and scrutinizes 75,000 products to expose those who overhype“. You have been warned!
If, indeed, genuine Corporate Social Responsibility is to become a necessary part of the new business ‘paradigm’ then I for one, as a big proponent of Fair Trade, most heartedly applaud and hope that, as social media marketers, we can play a small part in helping companies to tell their stories and inspire their own customers in such a positive manner.
Advertisements
This entry was posted in Social Media, Social monitoring and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s