in the last month I’ve had the pleasure to work on a new paper for my next exam in Web Communication about Corporate Social Responsibility and its relation with Web Communication. In particular, I analysed the ways through which organizations worldwide use their websites in order to implement CSR strategies.
For those who don’t know what CSR is all about, Corporate Social Responsibility can be defined as the sum of ethical implications in the strategic plan of an organization. In the last decade, a great number of corporations gave a high-level of importance to CSR strategies, for the simple reason that organizations have the possibility to implement such CSR activities in order to gain a competitive advantage and be then more relevant in comparison with their competitors.
Marketing has always had the aim to create, communicate and deliver value for customers at a certain profit (AMA definition). CSR strategies are for obvious reasons very important for all organizations. A great number of channels and tools has been used to deliver CSR strategies to consumers on the World Wide Web. During my 5-years spent at the University of Milan I became absolutely fascinated by the ways through which companies implement their CSR activities and gain greater levels of success under the reputational point of view. At the same time, companies should be aware of the importance not to fall in trouble with Greenwashing, which can be defined as a false ecological marketing activity which is characterized by the communication flow of news and activities which are not really implemented by the company – simply lies.
Literature on Management confirmed the importance of CSR which is today seen as a must-have for organizations who want to succeed in their marketplace. When we talk about “branding”, the first think we think of is the face of the customer who is highly critical and wants to get all possible kinds of information about the products that are sold within a particular category of goods. At the same time, when we think of Social Media Marketing, we think of the relation between users and organizations… are our users totally engaged with our company? Well, if they aren’t, companies should start to talk to users online and to potential customers in order to implement a one-to-one relationship with them.
CSR is about strategy and ethics at the same time. Under the strategic point of view, this vision focuses on the possibility to gain a competitive advantage and a higher reputational level in order to get better financial results. While the ethical vision tells us that Corporate Social Responsibility is at first right and fair, and not necessarily advantageous. CSR is not only about creating safe and sustainable products, but it’s also about caring for people within and outside the organization – HR activities are of course very important – and trying to care about the planet as a whole. Throughout my analysis I came to the conclusion that most organizations use their website to deliver information about CSR activities, first of all through their CSR Report. All Global Brands seem to have the same willingness to implement good CSR strategies to gain a competitive advantage and to create engagement with their potential customers.
As you may know, brand communities are widespread when we talk about all kinds of categories and subcategories of products… wheather we talk about Apple or Samsung, Asus, Microsoft and so forth. People socialize between them through the usage of brands and products and talk about their favourite brand all the time. We had a switch in the last few decades from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 which is about a great interaction between the website itself and users: blogs, wikis, chats and forums are all products of Web 2.0. It’s a dynamic version of the internet. People are not just consumers, they are also producers. We call them today “prosumers”. Companies want to co-create with their customers new products and services. Organizations want their help to succeed as producers, as global brands. And when we talk about Corporate Social Responsibility we use another word: ressumer – responsible consumer.
More than 85% of consumers decide to implement a brand switching when a specific organization doesn’t implement CSR activities properly or implement false activities, getting into Greenwashing procedures. Many of you probably followed what happened with Volkswagen – Dieselgate. 88% of users started to edit jokes about the German brand. Sells went down for a while but then went up straight away due to the great brand image of the German company.
Companies should start to act properly… users are active online 24h a day and a single false step can knock your reputation down with a few clicks of mouse.
We want MORE ethics and LESS Greenwashing… for a better world!