CSR, social media and your self-defending brand

One of the biggest concerns executives voice about social media is the lack of control.  The idea that anyone can comment, share or disagree with you makes people uncomfortable.  Of course the fact that you know people are having these conversations about your brand or product, and that – if you choose  – you can engage with them, is far better than not knowing at all.

As I mentioned previously, Corporate Social Responsibility is increasingly becoming an imperative for every company – big or small. CSR is not about token’ism.  It’s not about throwing a cute photo of a puppy with sore eyes on your website and donating $1,000 to an animal shelter, it’s not about pumping money at a problem.  Effective CSR is about understanding how your business can operate responsibly and what resources you have that can have a beneficial impact on your community and often more importantly help your people to have a positive impact.

There’s a lot of cynicism online.  And that’s one of the reasons many companies often shy away from “publicity” around their CSR efforts.

However, here’s an alternative view.

If you make a sincere commitment to address a real issue using your resources and your expertise, then that is something you shouldn’t shy away from communicating in an appropriate manner.

One of the interesting things that I have noticed recently, is that where it’s clear that a company is making a sincere effort to drive positive change (on any issue) the internet can be a positive environment for debate and discussion.

I am seeing more and more cases where internet citizens are actively addressing cynics and actually defending companies who are doing the right thing. 

This is a development that all communicators should be monitoring. 

There is nothing more effective than individuals standing up for your brand and calling foul on people who are making unfair or illogical criticisms of the work your are doing.

Don’t get me wrong, you will still experience negative sentiment, but if you are committed to do the right thing, then often you will be pleasantly surprised at the support you’ll receive and often from unexpected quarters.

Self-promotion isn’t and shouldn’t be your motivation for implementing corporate responsibility, but it is yet another business benefit and one that will become increasingly valuable as your brand lives and dies online.