A cultural and corporate shift has taken place in the world. The result of things like the current economic climate and recognition of global climate change, society is starting to push past awareness and into real time action. As this transition takes definite shape, companies are evolving from their reactive states, and moving toward more pro-active approaches. Social media today has become an essential element of communicating corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies & practices.

Today, CSR functions as more than just a set of guidelines to keep companies out of trouble. Because the end goal for corporations has risen above simply selling a product or service, the standard for CSR is being redefined and is evolving as a driver of innovation. The bottom line is now three-fold, and is centered around people, planet, and profit. As business leaders strive to build more sustainable and socially responsible entities, formal social media strategies are becoming paramount.

Panelists at the Social Media for Sustainability conference, which was held in San Francisco last month, offered some insights on how social media can aid companies in being more socially responsible.

Know your constituents via Social Media

There was a time when companies issued press releases, and operated under the impression that they controlled the message of their brand. Those days are gone. Today, the brand image is linked to the thoughts and conversations of a company’s consumers. Therefore, businesses must get to know their constituents. By sparking authentic and transparent conversations via social media, companies are can learn what their audiences think and feel.

Influencing customers as Citizens

In this age of digital democracy, social media allows companies to influence and view the behavior of their customers after a product or service is bought. In the same vein, more and more consumers are self-identifying themselves as individuals who want to continue ongoing relationships with a business or brand. The dialogue exchanged between customers and companies can be highly beneficial for both sides, and build and strengthen a sense of community, which is the fundamental purpose of social media. When consumers are treated as citizens, they can do everything from helping a company amplify its voice, to voting on the style of a new product, to improving a service.

Getting your good work out there

A growing number of businesses are leveraging social media to trigger a viral chain reaction of interest around the socially responsible work they’re doing. More and more companies are talking with customers and stakeholders about causes of interest to them, and about how they can work together to have a positive impact on the world.

Chip giant Intel is using social media to improve its earth-friendly consciousness, and to engage with other parts of the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector and consumers. Intel’s Director of Corporate Responsibility, Michael Jacobson, says his department takes advantage of social media by marketing the positive ways Intel is working to minimize its global carbon emissions, as well as the entire industry’s. Online networking can help significantly improve a brand’s image externally, as well as boost company morale, which is what Nike is focusing on currently. The shoe giant recently launched an internal social media network called the We Portal, which serves as a platform for employees to discuss ways they can socially engage with one another, and how the company can be more sustainable.

Source Mashable