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09.04.2020

HOW DO YOU MAKE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY MORE SOCIAL?

Corporate Social Responsibility isn’t the sexiest topic for social media. You won’t find many comment wars about brands’ CSR policies and not many users scroll Facebook for info on corporate values and principles.

That’s one of the reasons why brands tend to hide their CSR communications in far-off corners of corporate websites. Another (very probable) reason is that the line between communicating social responsibility programs and straight-out boasting is very, very thin.

That’s why, when we took over Coca-Cola HBC Armenia’s social media and were tasked with communicating its CSR work, we knew we were up against a challenge.

So, how do we make social responsibility relevant on social media? Here are five things that work and one thing that doesn’t (that well), all based on our 10-month (March-Dec 2019) work with Coca-Cola.


FIVE THINGS THAT WORK

  1. Make it Human

    People care about people. Not programs, policies, events and strategies. People! After all, that’s why most of us are on social media — to connect with others.

    Any real CSR work is profoundly human — people design it, people carry it out and people (hopefully) benefit from it. Find a way to bring these people out — show their faces, tell their stories, let them do the talking and voila, your social media content isn’t about CSR, it’s about people.

    How did we do this for Coca-Cola? We devoted a big chunk of the content to “People of Coke” — a series of posts with photos and quotes of the people behind the brand, from top management to assembly-line workers. Another series of publications featured community members — the actual people who participated in or benefited from the brand’s CSR work.

    And it worked! On average, posts featuring real people generated more positive engagement than those that didn’t.

  2. Impact over Results

    Don’t just talk about what was done. Go wider. Dive deeper. Move beyond numbers, dates and activity descriptions to find the broad impact. Show how the brand’s efforts have changed the situation, transformed communities and affected lives․

    And if the CSR action in question hasn’t made any actual impact, perhaps it’s not something worth talking about. Lucky for us, Coca-Cola’s social responsibility efforts created tangible impact — from newly-installed water systems and cleaner communities to training and employment opportunities. So, what we did is shine a light on these achievements and communicate them in a clear and straightforward way — no exaggerations, no fake modesty. Just facts.

  3. To Say More about the Brand, Say Nothing about the Brand

    What the brand talks about is just as important as what is talked about the brand. Sometimes, the best way to get people interested in the brand’s CSR work is to remove the brand from the center stage. So, don’t just talk about what the brand is doing — talk about the issues it cares about.

    For Coke, this included topics like recycling, saving water, sustainable development, lifelong education, active living, etc. So, we devoted about one third of the social media content to raising awareness and creating public interest in these issues. After all, your target group won’t care what you do about recycling if they don’t care about recycling itself.

  4. Get Situational

    Situational stuff wins. If you’ve ever created social media content, you must have noticed it — a simple (as in, ordinary, average, common, non-standout) Valentine’s Day post often gets more reactions that the most well-composed post (great design, brilliant copywriting and all that) that isn’t situational.

    So, how do you use this trend? By twisting and turning holidays, special days, current events, memes and other situational topics until they are relevant to the brand’s CSR work.

    Naturally, we’re not saying “cover everything”. But, make sure that you’re squeezing the situational stuff to its last drop. Here are two examples of how we raised environmental awareness on two special days that have nothing to do with the environment.

    On September 1st, we talked about the importance of taking care of the environment by reminding the target audience how we used to clean our classrooms at the end of the school day.

    Our June 1 (International Children’s Day) message wasn’t “Happy Children’s Day”. It was “Let’s Save the Planet for the Children”.

  5. Don’t Just Communicate. Contribute.

    Social Media isn’t just there to talk about CSR. It can actually help brands create more impact by engaging volunteers, increasing community participation, ensuring attendance at key events and more.

    For instance, one of our short-term campaigns through Facebook Messenger helped Coke gather over 100 volunteers to clean up a park on March 23 — the Statewide Cleaning Day.

    So, next time you’re creating CSR-related content, don’t just ask “How can we best communicate what the brand is doing?”. Make sure to also ask “How can we help the brand do more?”.


ONE THING THAT DOESN’T WORK (that well)

Numbers

Before we started our work with Coke, we were handed out a very comprehensive report evaluating the brand’s CSR efforts over the span of several years. It showed the scope, results and outcomes of every program and activity, with very detailed facts and many-many numbers.

So, naturally, we decided to communicate these numbers. After all, some of them were very impressive (like, 98.6% recycling rate or over 1.1 Million cubic meters of water saved).

However, the target audience wasn’t much impressed. Number-focused posts were some of the least engaging posts we created for Coke.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid numbers. Just make sure that you use them wisely. Go back to the “five things that work” and 1) find the human story behind the number, 2) prioritize numbers that show impact, 3) communicate numbers to raise awareness, 4) insert numbers into situational posts and 5) finally, use the numbers to help the brand do more.

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