CSR and Social Media – What not to do

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Image: HALISI

Many companies strive to increase their social media presence through corporate social responsibility (CSR) actions. However, this can often be a major struggle for growing Facebook pages, Twitter accounts or Instagram pages.

What is the key to effectively promote your CSR efforts on social media?

Where is the magic button to get thousands of likes, RT’s, followers, increased brand favourability, and greater stakeholder engagement on social media sites?

Many people are unaware that a lot of work goes into planning, executing, and communicating CSR campaigns both internally and externally. The Statistics Portal estimates that in 2016 there will be around 2.13 billion social network users around the globe. With this growth comes a greater market and opportunity for companies to showcase their CSR through the tool of social media.

Over time, many different companies and organisations have attempted to utilise social media in various way and forms. This is showcased great examples of effective social media use and also not so great examples. We will take a look at an example of bad CSR by Walmart through social media.

Walmart, Walmart, Walmart. This discount retailer has a record of popping up whenever CSR is concerned. Facing many criticisms, the company has been accused of environmental crimes, discrimination and many more. Additionally, now with the ease of access to communicate directly to a company through social media, many angry customers have posted their accusations against Walmart online.

Recently, Walmart plead guilty to multiple various environmental crimes, resulting in the company paying $81.6 million in damages. The company was found liable of failing to have a system set up to deal with hazardous waste and also refused to train employees in waste management and disposal. This lead to great backlash from members of the community and loads of negative feedback throughout various social media channels.

The company however did not respond with great transparency or sincerity to the situation and resulted in an increased bad reputation over the whole brand.

Entrepreneur, Jeffrey Hollender, Executive Chairperson of the green products company Seventh Generation, argues that most corporations are not nearly transparent enough when it comes to social media actions.

“It’s a mistake for companies to think that they cannot tell the truth and hide anything they do,” said Hollender. “Whether it’s a customer, or an employee, or a reporter, someone will disclose a corporation’s dirty little secrets.”

If Walmart was more switched on and had better policies involved, this situation could of easily been turned around, resulting in much less damage on the company and brand image. To turn this situation around, the company needed to show transparency and steps they were doing to fix the situation throughout their messaging. Jonathan Bernstein, from Bernstein Crisis Management, states that the best and fastest way to reach some of your stakeholders in order to respond to tricky situations like Walmat’s, is through the use of social media. Bernstein argues that importance of development a number of followers, stakeholders and contacts on different social media platforms in order to respond effectively when CRS actions are needed.

What has been the best social media platform for to you show your CRS?

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