I have to be honest, I normally skip over any blog that even mentions Twitter, as I feel it has become an over-talked about topic recently. However, when the blog titled Social Media Provides the Tools to Make Positive Change popped up on my Google Reader last week, I had to take note.
The blog posted on the Communications Overtones blog page discusses how Michelle Greer, a web marketing strategist and blogger from Austin, recently won a social media award for a Twestival she organized to coordinate blood drives for Burmese refugees.
Although the blog never directly mentions anything public relations-related, I was immediately drawn to this topic as a potential tactic for a corporate social responsibly campaign (CSR), a campaign through which companies participate in activities related to public interests, while improving the company image. Corporations are constantly looking for ways to form mutually beneficial relationships with their communities, and what better way than through everyone’s new favorite medium – the Internet.
Using social media to power a CSR campaign is a strategically sound decision for a number of reasons. For one, social media is a quick and effective way for organizations to reach their publics. Currently, many companies discuss their CSR efforts on the company blog, but why not take that a step further and use the social media Web site as a platform for the campaign, rather than just a medium to discuss it? Also, social media Web sites are effective because they allow public relations professionals to disseminate controlled information that will reach target publics, those that are already loyal readers of the company’s blogs.
In my opinion, companies have a lot to gain by conducting CSR campaigns on social media Web sites. However, some may believe that social media Web sites would not be appropriate for some CSR efforts. What is your opinion? Do you think social media and CSR are mutually exclusive topics or that we can find a way to blend the two, so as to create communications results? If you disagree with using social media for CSR, what do you think is the best way for companies to conduct and report on CSR efforts?