What Are The Biggest Challenges to Communicating CSR with Social Media?

What Are The Biggest Challenges to Communicating CSR with Social Media?

Are you planning to develop a social media strategy to communicate your company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) or sustainability plan? What are some of the biggest challenges in using social media to communicate sustainability efforts?

As an orientation, the use of social media collaboration technologies can help organizations break down silos and facilitate knowledge sharing across business units, corporate functions and stakeholders. Social sharing enables individuals, communities, businesses, and non-government organizations the ability to connect with business in meaningful discussion from anywhere in the world in real time.   As a result, many businesses have already realized value by incorporating social media into traditional business processes including marketing, sales, PR, customer support, and product development.  However, opportunity is frequently met with challenges.

There are three main forms of communication composing corporate communication: management communication; marketing communication and organizational communication.

  1. A key challenge within management communication is that not all leaders are aware of the role they play in communicating and demonstrating CSR initiatives. The post, Sustainable Leadership: How to Fulfill on the CSR Vision addresses this nicely and articulates that leaders are are simply not aware of the fact that they assume the role as communicators.
  2. Challenges within marketing communications are generally reserved from the perspective of the consumers. Issues surrounding trust, authenticity, and transparent communication of information is the question the post How Consumers Are Making Sense of Social Media for Green Brands addresses.
  3. Organizational communication challenges can be summed up as addressing stakeholders engagement. Social media executed successfully can be a powerful vehicle to build sustainable business communications by engaging with all stakeholders. Yet many marketers are troubled with what content, in which format, is best to share with which stakeholders. As shared in the post, Why Your Social Media Efforts Are Failing and What to Do About Them we mention communications teams and marketers select low-impact social media opportunities because they overestimate the benefits and underestimate the resources necessary to execute. Failing to think through audience, strategy, and required resources before launching a social media marketing strategy leads to unfocused use of social media that quickly loses steam.

Adding to the challenge is the complexity of conveying CSR/ sustainability plans and their accompanying results in a concise, meaningful way that is useful to a stakeholder.

Despite the challenges, the distribution and engagement of sustainable information is becoming a more critical and active dialog.  Stakeholder engagement and feedback is being used to solve problems and drive innovation.  However, to be effective with sustainability communications in social sharing, an organization must have a defined engagement strategy. We encourage all to build sustainability programs that leverage social media engagement tools to implement direct and measurable impacts on social, environmental, and economic goals.