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How Progressive Companies are Using Social Media to Boost Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives

By Janet Stocks (New York City)

What’s one new way to attract conscientious employees? Today’s web-savvy businesses are utilizing social media to garner interest in their Corporate Social Responsibility campaigns. For example, trendsetting companies such as JP Morgan Chase and Pepsi have recently launched contests on social networking sites to determine the recipients of their charitable giving.

Greg Schneider, founder of 3BL Media, explains that “Companies are finally starting to be held accountable and responsible for the impact and influence they can have to affect change, and they realize the need to communicate it”.

Successful CSR campaigns, according to Schneider, are purposefully transparent, consistently delivered across multiple media platforms, and open to public feedback.

CSR Marketing tools such as JustMeans can help manage these needs.

JustMeans enables evolved employers to publicize their company’s benevolent acts across multiple social media platforms simultaneously to attract potential employees and generate business.“What good work are you doing right now?” That’s what JustMeans wants to know, in a Twitter-like fashion.

A social networking site for business owners to promote better CSR practices, JustMeans uses the Good Works framework to simultaneously sync all social media accounts for ease of posting and tracking CSR reports, press releases, videos, and other media to promote pro-social initiatives to the public. JustMeans allows companies to highlight their employee engagement, customer advocacy, and community relations, all of which attract thousands of followers to their social networking sites. In addition, evolved employers can host contests, post job listings, and listen to employee feedback.

A New Kind of Community Giving

Companies are reaching out via general social networking sites as well. On November 16, 2009, JP Morgan Chase launched its CSR campaign, “Chase Community Giving: You Decide What Matters,” on Facebook. The campaign, a contest, allowed the public to nominate and vote for their favorite local charities, for a chance to receive a portion of the coveted $5 million Chase grant. According to Chase, “Eligible charities included 501(c)(3) charities with an operating budget of $10 million or less, serving the general public in designated corporate responsibility areas such as: education, healthcare, housing, the environment, combating hunger, arts and culture, human services and animal welfare, and otherwise meeting the requirements and standards of the program Rules.”

In round one, tens of thousands of local charities vied for the public’s vote using email campaigns, Facebook statuses, and the evening news. Facebook users voted for the top 100 organizations and Chase awarded the 100 organizations with $25,000 each.

Round two will require the 100 organizations selected from round one to submit a $1 million grant proposal to Facebook users indicating how they would use the additional funds to better the community. Facebook voting, set for January 15-22, 2010, will determine the recipient of a $1 million dollar grant and five $100,000 grants. Board members unaffiliated with Chase or Facebook will award the remaining grant money to the organizations of their choice.

A ‘Refreshing’ Take on Social Media CSR

Another big company is deliberately challenging the effectiveness of traditional media in generating support for progressive initiatives.

“Could a soda really make the world a better place? With your help, we think so.” Pepsi has launched a multi-million dollar CSR campaign, Refresh Everything in lieu of its 2010 Super Bowl ads – a fact which is, in itself, garnering attention. Armed with an idea toolkit, people, businesses, and nonprofits are encouraged to submit their ideas for change for the chance to win up to a $250,000 Refresh grant.

Beginning January 13, 2010, Pepsi will accept up to 1,000 ideas each month to promote positive change in the following categories: Health, Arts & Culture, Food & Shelter, The Planet, Neighborhoods, or Education. Because the 32 monthly Pepsi Refresh grant recipients will be decided by voters, individuals with approved submissions are instructed to campaign for voter support using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. $1.3 million in Refresh grants will be awarded each month in the following increments: 10 $5K, 10 $25K, 10 $50K, 2 $250K. Then voting will begin on February 1st.

The bottom line: Encourage innovation in your CSR campaigns and utilize social media to do it. Today’s employees want to work for companies which work toward a positive world. How will you create change?

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