How Consumers Are Making Sense of Social Media for Green Brands

image: consumers and social mediaWith 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. 

According to 2012 Cone Communications Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker, 84 percent of Americans hold companies accountable for producing and communicating the results of CSR commitments by going beyond the mission to robustly communicate progress against well-defined purpose. Some 40 percent go as far as to say that they will not purchase a company’s products or services if CSR results are not communicated. 

Companies that proactively share the details and results of their CSR efforts, rather than just their aspirations, will be rewarded with increased consumer trust and purchasing, the report says. Some 86 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a company that reports its CSR results, and 82 percent say they are more likely to purchase a product that clearly demonstrates the results of the company’s CSR initiatives than one that does not, according to the report.

However, despite this strong belief in CSR commitments and results, 63 percent of consumers admit to not knowing where to find such information.  Relating social media for sustainability, the post, 5 Reasons Blogging and Social Media Builds Better Green Brands  illustrates how corporate communications are changing.  Citing, " a major component of any corporate sustainability plan isn’t so much how a company carries out those strategies but also how it communicates it to its many stakeholders.  There is an emerging role of social media for stakeholder engagement and for businesses to communicate their broader corporate responsibility agenda."  

Within our sustainability consulting, we've discovered that a social media marketing strategy, executed successfully, can be a powerful vehicle to build sustainable business communications by engaging with stakeholders.   The keys to social media success? Listening, engaging, and collectively advancing the sustainability conversation.  As the role of social media shares similar values to sustainability: authenticity, transparency, and engagement we offer the following resources as a guide to help create your social media engagement and sustainability story telling. 



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