Facebook complaint or corporate responsibility cue?

Heard of corporate social responsibility?

It’s a key plank in the PR world and is a concept that’s been around for many years.

CSR involves the idea of businesses being proactive and doing more than just trying to avoid breaking the  law. It’s about contributing more than profits and employment opportunities and recognising the importance of supporting your local communities, the environment, your employees’ wellbeing and more.

It’s one of the reasons why corporations have volunteer programs, sponsorship programs, environmental programs and so on. Today, we expect business to be good corporate citizens and do more than make a buck.

In fact, some corporations even report on these efforts as a key part of their annual reports. People use this to make assessments for corporations they’ll invest in; some of you may even assess potential employers through this lens.

Related reading: Social media, the new complaints department

Our growing interest in corporate social responsibility is overwhelmingly evident in what we see happening in social media pages today. One of the most high profile recent cases came after a mother posted a comment on Target Australia’s Facebook page to complain about the clothes available for young girls; Target afterwards announced the following:

Target Facebook post
Target Facebook post

Look at the Facebook Pages of other major brands and you’ll see exchanges like these:

Recent posts on Coopers Facebook Page
Recent posts on Coopers Facebook Page

Social media is your listening platform and can give you your Corporate Social Responsibility direction.

Want to know what people want? What they’re saying about you and your competitors?
Want to solve their problem – like all good inventions and products do? Wondering how to be a good corporate citizen? Read what your community is saying online.

This doesn’t mean that you adjust your whole business premise and raison d’être; it doesn’t mean you go bust trying to support community groups or send your employees into volunteer programs. But you can view social media not as a place for whining and complaints, but as your listening post, as a litmus for community expectations and a source of ideas for good corporate citizenship.

This post is based on a section of the presentation I gave to Marketing Week #MICON in Adelaide recently. You can find the Storify summary here.

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