A web of interaction
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, foursquare, blogging, the social web. We no longer just communicate, we interact. Consumers are able to directly connect with and voice their opinions to brands not in a private conversation, but amongst the hundreds, thousands and possibly millions who are connected through the social web. No longer can brands hide behind the wall of private communication and continue to push their stakeholder inquiries, concerns, or problems aside. Brands must react, engage and build trust by interacting with their social communities - this means exposing your brand, the good, the bad and even the ugly. In the process, how can the wealth of information being generated by social media help us better understand sustainability value creation?
According to 2012 Cone Communications Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker, 84 percent of Americans hold companies accountable for producing and communicating the results of CSR commitments by going beyond their mission to robustly communicating progress against well-defined purpose. Some 40 percent go as far as to say that they will not purchase a company’s products or services if CSR results are not communicated. Companies that proactively share the details and results of their CSR efforts, rather than just their aspirations, will be rewarded with increased consumer trust and purchases, the report says. 86 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a company that reports its CSR results, and 82 percent say they are more likely to purchase a product that clearly demonstrates the results of the company’s CSR initiatives than one that does not.
However, despite this strong belief in CSR commitments and results, 63 percent of consumers admit to not knowing where to find such information. Using social media for sustainability, the post 5 Reasons Blogging and Social Media Builds Better Green Brands illustrates how corporate communications are changing. "A major component of any corporate sustainability plan isn’t so much how a company carries out those strategies but also how it communicates it to its many stakeholders. There is an emerging role of social media for stakeholder engagement and for businesses to communicate their broader corporate responsibility agenda."