9 Ways to Use Social Media for Social Good

by Rochelle Ceira

sm4sgIf you’re someone who’s looking forward to bringing a positive change in the community, you’ve probably tried tons of ways to spread the word about your efforts. This could have been done through brand ambassadors, print media, or other promotional content. It can’t be denied that the most powerful source used to “spread the word” is the one welfare organizations thrive on to do their charity work. Today, our task to find this influential source is cut down because we have exactly what is needed to connect to a large audience—the social media.

How can we effectively use the social media for good? That is a brilliant question we are about to answer. It’s not a cinch to create a post that goes viral and thereby creates a movement. Very often, the most informative and useful posts get buried in an avalanche of so many other “news” items on people’s feeds. Even if it does make an impact, you’ll have to keep preserving and upholding the message before it starts to slip out of the public’s awareness and get replaced with another hot new topic.

Here are nine effective ways you can use social media for social good:

  1. To Network with Like organizations: One of the best ways to obtain useful information about a concern is by having a little chitchat with other contacts on the same page. Now, in a normal networking event, you are going to do the same by fishing through the crowd and finding like-minded people willing to give their two cents on a subject. On the social media, however, much of the effort to find and fish through the crowd is reduced. Regardless of which social channel you are using, you can join community groups/ like organizations, follow a relevant hashtag, or add to your list friends and followers that belong to similar organizations. Unlike traditional business, these organizations won’t be your competitors. They will be philanthropic organizations seeking to bring good to the community.
  2. To Connect With Donors: In a traditional non-profit business, where would you look for donors? Set up a stall with a jar of cash? Maybe go door to door and ring bells? Perhaps, ask UK dissertation online services to write about your cause? With the help of social media accounts, you won’t have to go through all that trouble and awkwardness. By creating a sound and solid social presence you will have access to a large community, possibly even an international one. Social media won’t require you to knock on anyone’s door. You will simply share what you have to say or show and the interested bunch of people will show up on their own. No awkwardness, no force needed, and no spammy emails.
  3. To Share the Facts and Figures: Nothing speaks credibility the way research and statistics do. People love getting to know facts and statistics, especially those they were previously unaware of. Social causes always have a range of statistics, research, and knowledge to share to enlighten an audience. The community is most often unacquainted with these facts and figures. Come up with infographs, charts, and creative images that will make effective posts to engage the community as well as enlighten them about bases of your cause.
  4. To Share Stories: A great welfare organization always has great stories to share. These could be narratives of people you’ve helped, videos of tours and experiences, heart-wrenching pictures of those who need help, and other content meant to inspire. Don’t let your success stories go wasted either. Let your audience know how you have been making a difference. If you’re following a cause that is meant to raise awareness, telling stories is one of the best ways to do this.
  5. To Promote and Event: Event promotions are best done on social media these days. Let your fans and followers, as well as the public, know what your organization is arranging for the social cause. With the help of social media, such as Facebook, you can also invite a large number of people and ask them whether they are “going” or “not going” to the event. This will also allow you to judge the number of guests you should be having.
  6. To Get Your Call to Action Out There: The more the displays of your call to action, the better. Social media gives you that advantage. You can put up your call to action anywhere and repeatedly free of cost. This also makes it easier for your potential donors to find a “link” to the right page where they can donate or find information on how to do so.
  7. To Gratify to Your Community: After a charitable donor has submitted his payment, what must you do? Thank him, of course! You can use social media to thank your donor personally with a customized message.
  8. To Celebrate the Voice of the Customer: You don’t always have to be the one to generate content. Sometimes, the voice of a customer speaks even louder than that of the seller. In your case, the customer could be a donor, an internee, or anyone who helped you further your cause. Let the contributors share their experiences with a great story to tell. You can even extend this strategy by sharing posts of other individuals and organizations that share your values and interests. Not all the content you create has to be your own. Why not promote something another crafted for the same purpose as yours?
  9. To Gather Feedback: Social media accounts have tons of raw data that can be effectively transformed into “feedback” and analytics. Apart from being able to generate useful figures, you can also use your social media accounts to conduct survey and polls. Social media provides us with a simple and speedy platform for our market research. This is essential to the success of any cause, business, or initiative where an audience or customer base plays a major role.

Business’ Corporate Social Responsibility in Seven Steps

by Wanda Barquin

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is still widely misunderstood. I will discuss what CSR is and, most importantly, what it is not. Then, I will elaborate on how to evaluate environmentally-sound behaviors. Lastly, I will suggest seven steps to develop a CSR strategy.

CSR is meant to benefit your business. It aims to improve your corporate image. It is a strategic way to communicate publicly what you do well in order to boost your brand reputation.

CSR is not:

1) Corporate philanthropy. It does fulfill YOUR altruistic needs.

2) Charity. It is not YOUR religious-type donation.

3) A tax-alleviating scheme. It does not help YOUR tax deductions.

4) An ethical dilemma. It is not about YOUR choosing to maximize profits ethically or YOUR shortcut to Heaven!

Before developing your CSR strategy, review all of your business processes. Are you listening to your internal and external clients? Are there any inherent potential negative social or environmental consequences to the way you are doing business now? How is your product being produced or business proposition being executed? What does it take to carry out your investment? Are your employees safe and are you preserving a safe environment? Have you reviewed your commodity supply chains?

Identify where your processes reflect your company’s values such as solidarity, environment consciousness, or contribution to humanity. Define your values. Spell out your company’s mission. Your vision will be reflected in your brand. Remember that we live in an interconnected society and that you want to let your customers know the good you are doing.

Promote your product or service while adapting to the needs of your audience, as needed. Take continued stock of practices that might affect your company’s operations adversely, maximize the efficiency and productivity of your resources, eliminate waste and emissions, mitigate damages and deficiencies, put in place SOPs to ensure clarity and compliance. It won’t matter how unique, flawless, different, incredible, better or state-of-the-art your offering might be if you mistreat your employees, harm the planet, or hire children to achieve your goals. Those wouldn’t be attractive selling attributes for any company!

Let your business partners, consumers, stakeholders (all your internal and external clients) know of your most admirable business practices. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has indicated that no international standard for corporate social reporting has been established. The OECD suggests to make consumers aware of your environmentally-conscious processes, eco-label programs (e.g., Blue Angel and Nordic Swan), corporate environmental reports (e.g., “social auditing”), general corporate mission or strategy to demonstrate your openness and environmental stewardship (e.g., Body Shop International, Ben & Jerry).**

Create positive brand awareness and drive revenue generation by aligning your CSR and marketing plans. If you are conscientious, or go the extra mile for your clients and our environment (it is also yours, by the way), exalt your good deeds. Remember, in the final analysis, CSR is a strategy to reinforce brand loyalty and evoke positive human values, underscore the benefit to the community we all live in. Multiply positive word-of-mouth by following these seven steps:

  1. Integrate your CSR and marketing strategy.
  2. Identify a LOCAL bona fide partner* to execute your strategy.
  3. Create awareness within your organization.
  4. Enthuse your external stakeholders, be transparent.
  5. Create public support for your organization.
  6. Work with the news media (public and private broadcasters) to support your efforts.
  7. Get public coverage from your partner(s) through traditional and non-traditional channels.

It behooves you to incorporate CSR to your marketing plan from the onset. It makes you look better. Marketing plays a crucial role to communicate your stewardship and achievements. Align both strategies. Make sure that you launch your product, investment or service along with your CSR project. CSR is a function of marketing!

In short, do good whenever possible. Tell me, what would you like your tombstone to say? If you tell me your epithet, I will tell you mine…write back to me and let me know! Bye for now. Wanda

* I would like to recommend two sound, potential bona fide associates overseas, depending on your needs. The Catholic Church runs the oldest, largest and most efficient non-governmental organization in the world called “Caritas.” The local American Chambers of Commerce are excellent points of contact for U.S. firms too. I will delve into what they do in more detail in future articles.

** OECD Experts Workshop on Information and Consumer-Decision Making for Environmental Consumption http://www.oecd.org/greengrowth/consumption-innovation/1895757.pdf

Suggested reading: Corporate Social Responsibility Assessments by Southern Pulse.

Images courtesy of corporatesocialmarketing.wordpress.com, Boing Boing, and iPerceptive.com.

 

Why Companies Need CSR as Much as Causes Need Companies

by Kim Thomson

It’s no secret why a non-profit or cause based organization might want to partner with a major company or corporation. Many caused based organizations (for the sake of this article let’s refer to them as non-profits) receive help in the form of monetary donation or enlist the help of corporate employees for an event or day to “give back”. The upside for the non-profit is clear. But why should a for-profit corporation engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs?

Data has shown that participating in CSR and community based giving programs is actually a profitable strategy. About 53% of consumers report that they would pay a 10% price increase on the same product if it came from a socially responsible company rather than one with no known affiliation to a cause.[1] It’s no wonder advertisers have turned toward emotionally evocative ads this year (think Super Bowl), and I don’t just mean tear jerkers. I think we’d all (the creators included) rather forget the Nationwide Insurance commercial with the dead child discussing what he won’t do. But think about the ones that made you laugh, or what always gets me- the commercials with a soldier returning home and seeing his family. It makes you feel good, so you’re likely to remember it right?

CSR isn’t that different, it conveys your company’s compassionate side because of its participation. Such participation also makes your employees feel good, both about where they work (because they’re part of one of the ‘good companies’) and about their personal participation. So if CSR makes you look good to the consumer, they’re more likely to buy from you and even willing to pay more for your goods and services. On top of that you’ll be doing good in your community and engaging your employees. So what’s the downside?

It’s hard to see the downside given the facts. If your company is not already profitable maybe it’s not time to pay your employees for volunteer efforts or invest in a partnership with a non-profit. You still have to pay your employees and make your investors and stakeholders happy. But CSR can also increase brand awareness, by providing you with more visibility within your community.

Having a tough time finding new employees? CSR could have a positive impact on your employer brand. With 70% of millennials identifying themselves as a social activist[2] making time for activities that give back could be hugely attractive to a population growing in importance in today’s workforce.

While profitability and positioning are great reasons to engage in cause based partnerships and CSR, at the heart of every company’s strategy there should be a genuine desire to contribute to society. These relationships should never be entered into for the sake of elevating your own profits. It should, instead be a real part of your corporate identity. It’s not about positioning yourself as a good company but actually being a company with a true desire to bring positive change into the world. If that’s a part of your company’s mission and they aren’t already engaging in CSR, maybe now is the time to start.

[1] Clendaniel, Morgan. “The Brands That Survive Will Be The Brands That Make Life Better.” Co.Exist. November 07, 2011. Accessed June 03, 2015. http://www.fastcoexist.com/1678768/the-brands-that-survive-will-be-the-brands-that-make-life-better.

[2] Swinand, Andrew. “Corporate Social Responsibility Is Millennials’ New Religion.” Crain’s Chicago Business. March 25, 2014. Accessed May 02, 2015. http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140325/OPINION/140329895/corporate-social-responsibility-is-millennials-new-religion.

Part 3: The Government’s Role in Promoting Social Responsibility

by Karin Bloomquist

How can government better contribute to social responsibility efforts? In order to answer that question, we need to better understand the government’s role in promoting and supporting social responsibility initiatives and campaigns. Although social responsibility is more commonly associated with the corporate business sector, it is very important to pay attention to key stakeholders like federal, state, and local governments. In the past few decades, governments have joined other stakeholders in assuming a relevant role as drivers of social responsibility and adopting public sector roles in strengthening initiatives.

Now that the modern world has become inherently globalized with its economies and political challenges, the framework provided by social responsibility initiatives provides society with a way to learn what successful collaboration looks like among corporations, governments, and society. An area of social responsibility that the government focuses heavily on is social marketing, which is a marketing concept that works to develop and integrate marketing tactics with other approaches to influence behaviors that benefit individuals and communities for the greater social good. Through this type of integrated marketing communication, governments are able to better disseminate important health information to key publics and target audiences.

hhs-cdc-smThe United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a key agency within the U.S. federal government that successfully integrates public health initiatives with communication and social marketing practices. On their website, they have a dedicated gateway page providing resources to help partners build health communication or social marketing campaigns and programs.

According to the Institute for Public Relations, the CDC and many other health-focused and social change agencies use social media channels as a vital way of communicating with their key audiences. A 2012 report analyzing the CDC’s social media practices found that the center’s efforts were timely, important, and science-and-evidence based and shared pertinent messages of prevention, individual responsibility, safety, and community collaboration. Conclusively, the report stated that the governments who actively use of social media have the potential to influence public health initiatives and beyond on a large scale and garner support for positive social change efforts among policymakers and regulators.

Exchange-Photo_2.419-450x337Communications and public relations professionals in the DC metro area who are interested in exploring this kind of work can check out the Washington, District of Columbia office of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide (Ogilvy Washington), who currently does work on multiple CDC contracts providing specific communications support in the areas of social marketing, health communication, and public affairs.

In summary, federal, state, and local governments play a large role in helping to solve society’s most pressing issues. It is important that all sectors play a part in trying to achieve successful behavior change. Too many companies are waiting for the business case and too many governments have become co-opted or overwhelmed by private interests. Increasing cross-sector social responsibility and establishing more partnerships looks like the answer to increased accountability in the future, and promoting this kind of engagement is exactly how governments can better contribute to social responsibility efforts.partnerships

Building an Army of Backers: The case for making volunteer recruitment a top priority for nonprofits

by Aaron Viles of Care2

There is a limit to how many people a nonprofit can hire, but that doesn’t mean there’s a cap on how many people an organization can recruit to do good work. Volunteering has a long history in the United States, but finding active volunteers and keeping them engaged with your cause can be an ongoing challenge.

These days, the internet provides new ways to meet that challenge. You can not just engage a devoted few volunteers, but mobilize a movement of people that can do more to improve social good. Why recruit volunteers online? Here are a few good reasons:

Georgetown_VolunteersIMAGEThey help you get more work done in more places.

The heart of volunteering has always been providing opportunities for people to give back to their community or further a near-and-dear cause. Traditionally—at least for the cadre of volunteers whose experience is limited to service learning requirements in school—that often meant on-the-ground work like visiting with the elderly at a nursing home or attending an organized river or roadside clean up. These are great ways to contribute, but require a lot of coordination from the sponsoring group and limit the pool of potential volunteers to those who are nearby and available at a set time.

Contrast this with internet engagement. Online, organizations don’t need to expend effort trying to corral folks to a specific place (virtual or otherwise), but can instead meet them where they are, like asking supporters to share a petition on Facebook or issuing a call to action on Twitter. It allows people to get involved on their own schedule, so they can juggle work, making dinner, taking the kids to baseball practice and myriad other responsibilities without having to sacrifice the chance to volunteer.

Administrative work, like organizing pet adoption events or designing a rally sign, can be done as easily on a home computer as one in a nonprofit’s office. Volunteers need not even live or work in your community: the mission of a conservation organization is furthered if a tree is planted in Utah or Massachusetts. Recruiting and engaging volunteers online means nonprofits get to expand the definition and slate of volunteer work, as well as their reach.

They’re your evangelists.

Word of mouth is powerful. Every person that engages with your organization is a potential ambassador to their friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. In many ways, volunteer recruitment is a numbers game. There are plenty of people in every community with the time, ability and inclination to volunteer with your cause, but you need to find a way to reach them. Volunteers can help you penetrate new networks.

Social media amplifies this exponentially. While social media use varies by age, even the least-networked people (generally people born from the mid-1920s to the early-1940s) have an average of more than 100 Facebook friends. The best-networked group—young adults age 18-24—have an average of 649 Facebook friends. Each social media share by a volunteer reaches a significant portion of this network, both spreading your message, but also expanding your potential pool of supporters and volunteers, many of whom may be more likely to get involved based on a positive review from a trusted source.

Website and social media platforms make money by helping companies and nonprofits target their ads to the people most likely to be interested in them, based on reams of self-entered data about interests, activities and demographics. This data is critically helpful, but limited to each individual’s willingness to share online. Our friends and family know us better than Facebook and Twitter ever will, so getting a volunteer to share your message or opportunities for involvement with their like-minded network or specific people is the best targeting of all. Plus, it’s free!

They’re a source of fresh ideas.

At its core, the internet is a repository of information—historically in the form of static content, but now as a medium for access to people and expertise through networks. How many of us have booked a vacation, then turned to our social media networks for advice about where to eat and what to see?

Your volunteers give you access to their networks’ collective knowledge about how to make a difference. Social media allows for real two-way conversations between institutions and individuals, which can foster information-sharing and cross-sector learning that improves process and outcomes. As with all volunteer engagement, taking full advantage of volunteer value requires relinquishing some control and decentralizing operations. Allowing more people to participate not only increases your impact through sheer volume of action, but keeps your organization nimble, responsive and relevant to the communities and issues you work on.

Aaron VilesAaron Viles is a Senior Grassroots Organizer for Care2. He works with citizen authors on The Petition Site to create petitions that will win concrete victories for animals, the environment, and other progressive causes. Prior to Care2 he spent decades working within the non-profit environmental advocacy field. Aaron honed his craft while working for Gulf Restoration Network, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and Faithful America. He began his career with Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing. When not in front of a screen or on a conference call, Aaron can be found doting on his daughters, pedaling furiously to keep up with the peloton, and serving as a volunteer leader for the Sierra Club, Dogwood Alliance and his church.