5 Best Practices for Small Businesses to Engage in CSR on Social Networks
Authentic, continuous, targeted and interactive, social networks emerged as the ideal tools to engage in a meaningful dialogue between a company and its stakeholders. But not every company can afford to set a coherent communication strategy with its stakeholders, combined with precise and thoughtful community management. This is why the “Center For Social Impact Communication” recently wrote out a guide to advise smaller companies desirous to make their CSR initiatives known to the public, on how to do it.
Nowadays, only about 30% of small businesses communicate publicly about their CSR engagement, versus 59% of big companies. This gap can be explained by small businesses’ fear to publicly expose their engagement and somehow alter their authenticity… a notion they often cherish more than their larger counterparts.
However, the creation and broadcasting of entertaining content on social networks remains an excellent way for small companies to tell “their own CSR story” in a personal manner, and attract journalists, readers and other stakeholders without using the traditional ways of Media Relations or the more expensive Public Relations…
Of course, time remains the main and first obstacle faced when trying to invest into a “Community Management” strategy. Even though most of these tools are free, the resources needed to manage these new communication channels represent a significant investment, and the required skills are not always available within the company. The CSIC report however sheds a light on the best practices one ought to settle so to make a hit of every social network communication attempt:
1. Be authentic when putting your values and mission forward. Don’t hesitate to associate with historical partners who will share them, or an ONG that will support them. And privilege topics that are linked with your principal area of business!
2. Don’t hesitate to create social accounts dedicated to your CSR strategy – but choose them carefully according to your strategy and the tools they have to offer. It comes as no surprise that the most popular networks to do so are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter so far.
3. Create your own collection of CSR items that are linked to your cause. You can use videos to communicate your engagement, educational tools on your website to improve interaction about your report, or even write out blogs articles following up the evolution of your strategy. Your stakeholders will be more inclined to share entertaining and interactive content like quotations, pictures or opinion polls…
4. Get to know your audience, and mostly your key stakeholders groups… that are your employees! Do not underestimate the power of these significant “ambassadors” that can become real information relay stations towards your other targets. For this, do not hesitate to mention your employees: tag them in pictures, ask them to contribute to your blog or video, and to relay messages on Twitter!
5. Try things out! Do not fear a negative aftermath or a lack of activity when you start things out. Your stakeholders like authenticity and will congratulate you for your efforts if they are oriented this way. Enjoy and exploit the fact that you are part of a small structure, therefore more flexible, to try new supports, contents or messages! There is no unique way when it comes to CSR Community Management, so just go find yours…
Finally, do not forget that the size of your community or the amount of followers you have on social networks shall never be the only goal to be reached: a lot of small companies will never reach millions of followers like McDonald’s or Starbucks do, but will certainly engage in more personal and meaningful exchanges about their brand or engagements. Favoring an opened, engaging and sincere dialogue with a more restricted but also more authentic audience is by far the best way to truly engage your stakeholders, and advance your sustainability agenda.