How Social Media for Sustainability is Revolutionizing Communications

How Social Media for Sustainability is Revolutionizing Communications

Remember when the iPad came out?  People didn’t really know what it was.  As in, many thought it was a replacement for a computer.  Others thought, no, it was like a really big phone.  No one was really clear as to its uses and many continually tried to put it in categories they were familiar with. And, many thought the product would just be a passing trend and Apple would fall flat on its face.  Yet, Apple saw a unique need for this item to fill and they created a new market based on this visionary concept.  Now, it’s easy today to see that there is a huge market and demand for their iPad product as there are competitors competing for consumers attention and consumers have defined for themselves the value and need of an iPad or similar product. In essence, they revolutionizing the market.

In a similar fashion, sustainability and social media are following a similar route.  There are a lot of confusing ideas out there about what sustainability is, what its role in business is and there are equally as many confusing ideas about the role of social media in business promotion.  Many argue that sustainable business strategies, as well as, social media are just hot topics today and soon to be found by the wayside.  Many are trying to categorize each into familiar boxes as they know it - fitting sustainability into traditional business models or using social media as traditional marketing techniques. But sustainability and social media are changing the way consumers, suppliers, employees, and the community communicates and engages with brands and business.  And, leading companies are finding great use in social media for sustainability to create new revenue streams, capture market share and build brand loyalty much in the same way that the iPad did for Apple.

Social media engagement has democratized information and shifted the communications landscape.  How so?  With the dawn of social media, consumers are able to directly connect and voice their opinions to brands not in a private conversation, but amongst the hundreds, thousands and possibly millions who are connected through the Social Web. No longer can brands hide behind the wall of private communication and continue to push their stakeholder inquiries, concerns, or problems aside. Brands must react, engage and build trust by interacting with their social communities - this means exposing your brand, the good, the bad and even the ugly.  

More importantly, social media communications overcomes sustainability challenges. One of the great challenges facing sustainability, especially business sustainability, is the ability to measure success. The other challenge, is communicating that success in meaningful, relevant ways to interested stakeholders.  As adoption of both practices has evolved, the perception of sustainable business strategies and social media marketing has shifted quickly—both are no longer viewed as a passing fad.  Instead, many view having a corporate sustainability plan and timely, well-managed communications presence on social channels as critical tools for any business seeking to secure a place in long term business success. 

We find in our sustainable business programs, the propagation of sustainable information to effectively communicate business sustainability successes is becoming a more active dialog. Today, companies on the leading edge are evaluating the economic, social and environmental impacts that will ultimately affect profitability.  Green business practices are becoming more and more the norm, as companies both large and small realize the value of integrating eco awareness and sustainability concepts into their operations and business strategies. Because these sustainability concepts and definitions are still subject to interpretation and debate, these organizations are also embracing the use of social media engagement to engage in active dialog with stakeholders to create shared value.  

Leveraging 15 years of business development, marketing, and communications expertise in the Energy, Medical, and Information Technology industries, Julie Urlaub now consults and advises clients on purpose driven stakeholder communications in the social space. She is the Founder of the Taiga Company.

This Post originally appeared on the Taiga Company Blog. Distributed with permission of the author.