Recently, I had the opportunity to learn from leading industry peers at the Social Media and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) conference hosted by Just Means in London, England.
It was a full day of presentations by communications execs from organizations such as Unilever, Dell, Royal Dutch Shell, and SAP. CSR strategists from agencies like Futerra communications and retailers like Marks & Spencer described their journeys from stodgy brands your parents might remember to becoming leading brands in environmental advocacy. We also heard from one of the founders of Twestival, who organized real-life events from on-line Twitter communities in order to raise money for charitable causes.
One thing I learned is that the global CSR and social media community is tight knit and in constant communication, although we’re all still learning how to best leverage social media.
Here are some of my primary takeaways from the conference:
There are no rules, nor a tried-and true road map. So we need to be willing to try new things and not be afraid of mistakes.
Honesty and transparency are key components of social media and CSR. Whether it’s by making information available or offering CSR reports to the public, we can all gain from transparency.
Social media can help drive innovation (product and services). Dell shared its Idea Storm site to crowd-source product suggestions from which it brought more than 400 to market. And Reuters uses tools like SMS text to deliver information to an entirely new customer base.
There is no difference between internal and external audiences. Communicating to them like they’re people—instead of a particular type of audience—is key.
The press release should adapt to social media. “Social media press releases” provide information in more “bite-size” and “shareable” forms so that they can be easily distributed and shared by bloggers and on social media networks. The same should happen with CSR reports.
Social media platforms can be a good way to engage a global workforce. Providing frameworks for conversation, without trying to control it, can be a good way to get employees to communicate with the corporation and each other. It’s important to use tools that are accessible to all to ensure open communications channels.
Overall, it was great to connect with global peers and to learn about what other companies are doing as we continue to use social media to communicate how Herman Miller is working for a better world.