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The face of business is changing as companies are learning that environmental and social stewardship, and their contribution to society, are factors just as relevant to the health of their business, as is generating profits for shareholders.
“Successful companies of the future are likely to be those which discover how to make full use of their relationship with their communities as a normal part of running their business” This means nurturing relationships with each stakeholder group – employees, customers, supply-chain, etc.
And companies are responding through various approaches of reform. Beyond compliance and philanthropy, examples are through creating more socially responsible business models and practices – (Like Starbucks promoting fair trade, and wal-mart offering low-cost products to low-income communities)
Another examples of reform is Cause-related marketing,when companies partner with charitable organizations to help non-profits achieve their goals generating money through the sale of products.Examples are Yoplait raising money to battle breast cancer)
But, the most comprehensive and widely adopted approach to reform is through Corporate Social Responsibility.CSR addresses how companies manage their economic, social, and environmental impacts, as well as their relationships in all key spheres of influence: the workplace, the marketplace, the supply chain, the community, and the public policy realm.
CSR done right is a company applying its core competencies to advance social change in a way that contributes to business results and gives it a competitive advantage.”
Business is increasingly seeking to encourage customers to act on socialissues – recycle more, eat well, save energy, drink responsibly, use bags for life. And companies are using social marketing to achieve this.
Successful social marketing focuses on behavior. And done right, should lead to measurable social and business benefits. An examples of CSR well done is Molson Coors utilizing their brand to promote responsible drinking.
In 2008 when the Toronto Transit Authority canceled its New Year’s Eve free-ride transportation due to budget cuts. Molson stepped in and launched a campaign to replace public funding with a $20,000 donation.
Social media has begun to play a key role in how companies shape their CSR policies and present themselves as good corporate citizens.As business leaders strive to build more sustainable and socially responsible entities, formal social media strategies are paramount
Tyson Foods utilizes social media in it’s efforts to relieve childhood hunger.They launched a campaign in Austin, donating 100 pounds of chicken to the Food Bank of Texas for every comment posted on its blog. They received 658 comments in two hours.
Social Media is vital to CSR .Companies must get to know their constituents, and build a relationship.
The message of a brand is no longer fully controlled by the company and the press releases it puts out. Today, brand image is highly connected to the thoughts and conversations of the company’s consumers.
Social Media allows companies to influence its customers as citizens and incorporate them into the innovation, design, decision-making and conversations.Building the relationship between citizens and a company can be beneficial for both sides, building a sense of community.
By reaching out to customers to strengthening a relationship, customers have the capacity to help a company amplify its voice, vote on a new style or product, and improve overall service.
Social media helps an organization get the good word out of what they are doing, by leveraging the viral chain reaction of interest around the company’s particular issue – sustainability, health, poverty, etc. and helps to strengthen the brand’s image externally.
However, Corporate social marketing is still young, and companies should be careful about how their message is conveyed. Since the traditional motive for business is profit, intentions of social marketing campaigns are often questioned.
can corporations really champion social change? If the initiative appears insincere or fails to find the right balance between social and commercial benefit, credibility could be questioned.
Social marketing and particularly corporate social marketing is a journey – the private sector will act on customer behavior. But what we must remember is that public and private are interdependent.
Business and social marketing will inevitably be integrated. The worlds are interdependent. ‘we cannot achieve real changes to personal health without retailers, sport or pharma companies.. Nor can we achieve environmental change without a low-carbon economy. Our futures are interdependent.”
Enhanced reputation - more visibility to current and potential customers Enhanced ability to support real behavior change – SM initiatives are designed to change behaviors and improve quality of life.
Enhanced brand loyaly – early positive brand experiences, greatly influence lifelong brand loyalty. Enhanced product sales – natural connections between desired behaviors and the companies products and services lead to greater product sales Enhanced employee satisfaction – when employees also see positive social change from the company’s efforts, the organization will likely experience increased employee retention as well as productivity.