In this blog we will outline 3 key areas when considering how to make your CSR campaigns work in the digital age of social media, the 24 hours news cycle, influencers and even the 90-day profit cycles that drive publicly limited companies.
You need to integrate your CSR, your sustainability projects and all the other great stuff happening in your company into your brand. I suspect that if you looked there are lots of amazing people doing amazing things in your company that are for the benefit of the planet or society. There are probably lots of people running races, skydiving or baking cakes to help support their chosen cause. Wouldn’t it be great if they felt a strong connection between their work life and their ability to do good in the world? Aren’t they going to be motivated to work knowing that they are saving the planet a little bit or supporting their local community in some way? That cannot happen unless you take the steps to become that company, not just have a department but have a culture.
I want you to take a step back from the day to day operations of your company, the difficulties and challenges that you face. I want you to think about your legacy. Are you doing enough to make sure that the planet and society are going to be there for your great, great grandkids? If you are feeling a disconnect between that statement and the work you do then there has to be deep, company-wide changes. I want you to change your viewpoint and think about what you need to do. You are no longer a software company that does CSR. You are an ethical and sustainable software company. Be brave, go through the process and get everyone on board. As many stakeholders as you can and get that new branding through all of your channels.
If you want an example of branding then you can check out our current brand book below:
We are ‘triple bottom line storytellers’ and even we are a little worried about the use of storytelling becoming a buzzword. The truth is though that telling stories can be dated back to the earliest human history. Our stories are an integral part of our evolution and great stories, told brilliantly will still move us, empower us and create action within us. In a 2018 mobile-first world, it is becoming increasingly obvious to even B2B brands that social media is a major player in attention and therefore where we need to consider the storytelling capabilities of these platforms.
It’s about time we stopped creating100-page sustainability reports, posting them on your website, sending out a group email and considering that job done. We live in a mobile-first and increasingly video first world. You need to be creative about getting your messages across in the right way. Consider at the very beginning of your project how you might engage the different stakeholders. You need to tell your WHY. It’s no longer just about the how or the what but it is becoming more and more important to explain why you have made the decision to support a particular project in a certain way. It’s no longer just about your internal stakeholders and partners, it’s time to share those stories with the whole world and just as importantly get them to share their stories with you.
I want to invite you all to think about the use of your social media platforms and what might be some good and some bad ways to go forward. Always consider the platform. The nuances between platforms are growing and each is getting more and more specific users. That means you don’t have to be everywhere anymore but it means you have to be good where you do choose to spend your time.
Have you considered an internal social media? I’m not sure how many of you guys are using intranets these days but I feel like this was an early version of an internal social network. At Conscious Creatives, we use Facebook Workplace because it looks and feels just like Facebook, something everyone is familiar with on my team, very comfortable with and cuts down on training time. With Slack, Discord, Glipp and others, it has never been easier to create a place to share work information in a way that is relevant to the age of communication that we live in.
Your stakeholders are your greatest and most trusted storytellers, empower them! Give them the resources they need to tell your story in their way. Creating an internal social network can allow you to easily do this and ensure that your entire company is on the same and engaging in a way that leaves the board and management teams confident and excited.
Following on from that you can think about to expand your brand with people outside of your company. ‘Influencer’ is a term that gets used a lot in social media land but I want you to think less about the engagement or sales from hiring an influencer and ask the question – “is this going to help grow my community”. A friend of mine is a successful Instagram influencer and she expands the community of the brands she chooses to work with because they are both aligned on the same issues. A great example of someone she is working with right now is Sony and their Alpha Female program. Sponsoring 5 women around $30,000 to get access to a photographer career they are being held back from by an external factor.
Sony may not be getting direct sales from this campaign but they are getting a community first, high engagement second and I have no doubt that sales will follow shortly.
I recently spoke at a conference in Austria with top CSR and sustainability execs from central Europe. Following my presentation we broke out into groups and when I asked the question of how many of the people were working directly with the marketing team I got a response of 2 people from around 50 people and they WERE the marketing department in their companies, there to do the right thing and link their CSR projects directly into their marketing campaigns. The other 48 have some work to do.
The irony of it was that when we discussed their major challenges the one that kept coming up was how to identify and create communications that were effective for different audiences. I am pretty sure that is the definition of a marketing department and exactly what we do all day every day. We do this because we work with clients that like us, believe that there is more profit to be made by doing the right thing than by using messaging based around the product and its features.
When we run a campaign for a client we follow the exact steps your marketing team might do and we will even link in with them to borrow Customer Personas or Stakeholder Lists so that we aren’t repeating their probably very insightful work.
If you are on the CSR or sustainability team, I want you to reach out to your marketing team and ask them for a meeting. If you are on the marketing team reading this then reach out to your CSR team and see what support you can offer. Not only will marketing help with some of the key challenges the CSR department faces but you can start to put together a plan for your CSR that uses your companies current KPI’s to directly compare your CSR campaign to your marketing campaigns. The only real difference to consider would be your sales velocity. Typically CSR campaigns create a higher lifetime value but it takes a little longer to get there.
The amazing thing about using this model for your CSR projects and campaigns is that when it comes to convincing the board or management teams to release budget you are much more likely to be met with a yes than a no.
If you are unsure of how to potentially move your CSR campaigns into something that is marketable then reach out to me directly firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have an open discussion about what you are currently doing and how to bring in triple bottom storytelling to build the legacy and success your business wants.
Mark is CEO of Conscious Creatives. A passionate believer in doing the right thing is the key to being successful. He is also a photographer, filmmaker, writer and speaker.