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Social Media

How to Leverage Social Media for Sustainability Reporting

Social MediaJust having a robust social media platform to communicate a company’s sustainability reporting is not enough; firms need to incorporate social media into an overall communications strategy and have top management plug the efforts to boost authenticity, says a Business of Social Responsibility article by Guy Morgan.

Morgan is director of advisory services for BSR, a network of 250 member companies that it works with to promote sustainability and fairness.

Many companies think that building a comprehensive social media presence is enough to engage with their customers, but just putting the information out there will not guarantee the quantity or quality of stakeholders firms attract, Morgan says.

The social media efforts need to be part of a broader strategy and companies need to carefully review the channels the public uses to evaluate its corporate social responsibility efforts and how to reach them through those channels. If not, the elaborate efforts will only result in a big web design bill, he writes.

Companies also assume that social media communications will boost the image that they are transparent in their sustainability reporting, but Morgan says the most credible companies in this front are those that have put out multimedia efforts – videos and online live chats – with their top management answering tough questions openly.

Dispelling myths surrounding the importance and need for social media, Morgan stresses that it’s not just for B2C companies but also B2Bs. Investors and customers often access information about companies through their favorite social networks and what is shared on Twitter or Facebook can affect stock performance.

Social media has become an everyday tool for consumers to learn and engage around critical issues, including CSR, according to a Cone Communications study published last month, which reports that more than 60 percent of consumers surveyed said they access social media to engage with companies. It’s also accelerating CSR efforts in India, China and Brazil where mobile-savvy customers engage companies through social media.

Companies like Levi’s, BBVA and eBay top the SMI-Wizness Social Media Sustainability Index 2012, an annual review that analyzes how companies communicate their sustainability efforts.

Image courtesy: Asian Media via Flickr

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