Social Media Magazine

Corporate Social Responsibility In An Online Context

Posted on the 28 December 2012 by Onlinere @onretailblog

Corporate Social Responsibility In An Online Context Illustration

Corporate Social Responsibility (or ‘CSR’) is without doubt one of the latest corporate buzz phrases batted about in marketing meetings but is a valuable part of your business strategy not to be ignored.

There are many definitions of CSR, but in a nutshell it’s about behaving ethically, sustainably and having a positive impact on society. Corporate Social Responsibility should be part of your business’ core values and is becoming increasingly important. Consumers have become savvier about how businesses operate and have much higher expectations on how products are sourced and profits are managed. If your website can’t provide them with clear information, a competitor’s website is likely to!

It’s not as simple as writing a token bit of copy hidden in the ‘about us’ page and promptly forgetting about it. CSR should be a well thought through part of your business strategy. Corporate Social Responsibility carefully considers your stakeholders and is about being genuine about your company’s standing on key issues. Communicating them effectively on your website will ultimately increase trust and profitability.

The ‘Hot Topics’

  • Sustainability and recyclability – It may cost a little more for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) accredited paper for your marketing materials and recyclable packaging, but the investment demonstrates that you are a responsible organisation taking steps in the right direction to make a difference.
  • Protection of personal information – Selling personal information to third parties without consent and having a blasé approach to database security is a no-no. How you protect information is vital to establishing trust with your customers.
  • Supplier information – Do you ethically source your products? The confectionery and fashion industries have been heavily under the media spotlight in recent years due to unethical choices when sourcing ingredients and treatment of employees, so make sure you don’t turn a blind eye as to where your raw materials are supplied and manufactured.
  • Charitable giving – Providing a percentage of profits to charity is a great way of giving something back and making your employees feel like they contributing a good cause. Many businesses support charities which work in countries where their products are sourced or choose projects which are close to their HQ (such as a local hospice). The benchmark set by many businesses is a 10% donation.

Five Great Examples of CSR Online Communication

  1. Marks & Spencer – With the ambitious aim of ‘becoming the world’s most sustainable major retailer’ M&S communicate their values with the brilliantly simple ‘Plan A’ campaign. The website is clear, has a great use of graphics and provides the option to sign up to receive regular updates and make a sustainability pledge.
  2. Innocent – Fun, interesting and honest copywriting is what makes Innocent’s ‘Being Sustainable’ and ‘Big Knit’ charity pages such a good read. Simple icons illustrate its 5 key areas brilliantly.
  3. ECover – ‘Making a Healthy and Sustainable Lifestyle Easy’ is Ecover’s mission statement which they reinforce with every marketing message. The makers of green and phosphate-free cleaning materials is a great benchmark for a strong CRM strategy.
  4. Co-Operative – Known for being a socially responsible and Fair Trade retailer. The Co-op’s dedicated CSR microsite makes the bold statement that they are ‘taking ethics to the next level’ as well as inviting visitors to ‘join the revolution’ and get involved.
  5. – Online florist Bunches donates 10% of company profits to sustainable projects in the developing world every year. Details of its giving are documented in a timeline on its charity page and the ‘Ethical flowers’ page details how it sources its blooms.

Five Top Tips To Improving Your Online CRM Stance

  1. Make it crystal clear how customer’s personal information will be used when you collect it and provide a guarantee that you will keep details safe.
  2. Be genuine about your company’s standing on key issues. Customers will see through fake ideals and wishy-washy statements.
  3. Communicate your ethical stance in an interesting and engaging way. Video is a great way of getting across your CSR message. Two minutes is the optimum time to digest a topic, so be creative and use graphics alongside film to illustrate your points rather than reams of text.
  4. Be consistent across all of your marketing communications activity – including on printed materials and on social media. Be proud of what you do without appearing like you are being ethical purely for marketing purposes!
  5. Encourage your staff to get involved and passionate about your CRM policy – hands-on experience of working with your chosen charities is also great for team-building!

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