Long gone are the days where companies can only focus on marketing efforts that convince people to buy their products or services. Nowadays, a company has to build a whole brand image that aligns with what consumers like and want. And what a lot of them want is responsible companies that give back to the community.
The problem is, being socially responsible by setting up community initiatives and donating to charity isn’t enough. The way these efforts are communicated to the greater public is just as important. It takes a lot of careful communication to toe the line between posting inspirational content and creating tacky posts that seem disingenuous and attention-seeking.
Because of this, a lot of companies struggle with creating corporate social responsibility (CSR) content. Some even neglect the subject altogether, which is a mistake because it can provide a valuable opportunity to generate priceless audience engagement. Here are a few tips for how to approach CSR communication efforts.
What is CSR?
Corporate social responsibility embodies a company’s commitment to helping the communities and environment around it. Today, many stakeholders prefer to support a company that aligns with their personal values by giving back to society through philanthropy or volunteering.
To do this, a business has to align its charitable business activities with its vision and mission as well as the goals of society at large.
Choose Practical Solutions
A CSR campaign is only as good as the company’s ability to carry it out effectively, and the same goes for how the campaign is communicated. For it to be successful, this needs to be backed by competitor and audience research, just like with any other social campaign.
Looking at the approaches other campaigns have taken in the past can be a good way to gather data on what people engaged with. For instance, studies showed that while CSR posts on social media tended to receive less engagement, all of the engagement tended to be positive. Video content does better for CSR campaigns, on average, as well. Mainly because it’s a more compelling method of storytelling.
An audience is also more likely to respond when the company chooses an initiative and message that makes sense for its niche. For instance, a restaurant could head a food drive or donate unused food to non-profit organizations before it expires. Not only does it create a positive and memorable connection with the restaurant, but it’s a practical solution that the restaurant can reasonably accomplish.
Rally Behind One Cause
Social media is saturated with an overabundance of confusing messaging as it is – there’s no need to add to that. It’s fine to engage with different CSR initiatives, of course, but the messaging for each should be distinct and consistent.
People need a way to associate the social media posts with the campaign and the company. But even that requires a delicate balance too. The company should keep the attention on the initiatives instead of self-praise, as this can weaken the message.
Generate Direct Engagement
As in literature, the concept of “show, don’t tell” works just as well in CSR campaigns. People don’t want to be told how great the company’s efforts are in self-serving social posts. They want to be invited to join in on the conversation or see real change through action.
For example, a popular recent CSR campaign trend involved supermarkets and restaurants switching to paper straws and other single-use plastic alternatives. For about a year, social media was beset with posts from companies who jumped on the paper bandwagon.
Sometimes, jumping on a trend like this can be very beneficial since it addresses a major environmental or societal concern of the time. This means a lot of interest has been generated on the subject already, providing a good platform to generate some valuable engagement.
Getting the audience directly involved in the company’s CSR efforts can also help lend credibility to the cause. They help forge authentic participation and can steer the discourse, decreasing the possibility of it being a one-sided conversation.
Too many posts related to CSR can be off-putting, while too few won’t build recognizability for the campaign. It’s a delicate balance best achieved through trial and error. Although there is some research that can help, many studies become quickly outdated as social media use evolves.
The Bottom Line
CSR messaging can be a tough nut to crack, but when done well, it provides invaluable brand exposure and builds loyalty. Well-presented stories about social responsibility are naturally interesting and attract attention.
Remember that not even good deeds will keep unscrupulous parties from attacking the company, especially online. So try a VPN service when carrying out CSR campaigns to ensure that company data and employees stay safe throughout.
Interesting Related Article: “Married CEOs associated with better corporate social responsibility (CSR)“