Corporate Social Responsibility 2.0
Corporate Social Responsibility 2.0, driven by the internet and Web2.0, centers on the ability of firms to use social media, user generated content and open source networks to engage stakeholders in real time. Enabling corporations to have conversations with stakeholders and use their collective opinions to help build, shape, and initiate their CSR strategy.
Stakeholders are empowered since they have the ability share information and pool their collective voice, which can have negative repercussions to corporations who find themselves in the receiving end of a “scorned” public. A lesson learned by United Airlines when it refused to compensate a passenger for damaging his guitar. He used YouTube to voice his discontent and after which a firestorm of disapproval followed. Companies like Walmart and Chase have entire third party blogs dedicated to reporting their “transgressions”. However, companies also have an opportunity to use this to their advantage. They have the ability to partner with stakeholders to develop, rate, and market their CSR initiatives at a lower cost compared to traditional methods i.e. hiring third party reporting agencies and CSR consultants that publish CSR reports.
Unlike CSR 1.0 which is constrained to one way engagement, CSR 2.0 encourages external stakeholders to be a part of the company’s CSR conversation. This two way conversation may have a great impact on the success and perception of a firms CSR initiative which will ultimately strengthen their brand. Companies like eBay and GE have been effective users of social media creating blogs and viral videos respectively to promote their CSR initiatives. They have been successful in driving engagement by creating content that connects with stakeholders and drives engagement. In this world, “content is king” and the challenge for firms is to create content that will drive traffic to their site while strengthening their brands. CSR 2.0 has the potential to be a force for positive social change and is of great value to firms because it is a dynamic, interactive and cost effective way to strengthen their brand. All hail CSR 2.0!!!