New media inspires social responsibilty in corporations (whether they like it or not).
May 17, 2013
Social media has effected how corporations behave. For example, the way it has cajoled (or in some cases coerced) big businesses into acting like nice people instead of faceless, corporate entities. What choice do they have? With everyone and their brother potential whistleblowers it is no longer feasible for corporations to maintain a façade. It’s too easy for the world to see inside. And if the inside of a company does not match its outsides (i.e. marketing image) this creates a level of conflict potentially ruinous to the firm.
Yet, big companies are reluctant to let go of old ideas. It’s not in their conservative natures. Especially when it comes to public relations. Transparency is uncomfortable. Businesses do not want to reveal their proprietary secrets –the Secret Sauce! Nor do they want internal debate and/or dysfunction made public, i.e. a bumbling CEO or battling board of directors.
While publicity and success go hand in hand, exposure makes everyone nervous. The word itself implies vulnerability, like ants under a magnifying glass. But once firms accept the two-way glass much good can come of it. For them and for the communities they reside in. For example, fast food marketers own up to their unhealthy menus and begin providing nutritious alternatives. Whether they want to or not. In reality, these good-for-you items have, in many cases, become highly profitable: a win-win for all parties.
Another example comes from corporate giant, Kraft Foods. Perhaps feeling internal and external pressures, some years ago the company began embracing social causes, in particular those aimed at reducing hunger. Now Kraft spends countless millions of dollars on behalf of Feed The World and other such organizations. McDonald’s wages campaigns against child obesity. As David Jones (Global CEO, Havas) points out in his recent book, “those that do the most good win.”
Indeed, “doing good” is now a corporate mantra. For obvious reasons, marketers are compelled to talk about their good deeds. While it does shroud altruism in a self-serving aura, so what? The deeds are getting done. Heightened social conscience of corporations is a good thing. A great thing! But it might not have occurred –certainly not as quickly- without the relentless “peer pressure” that social media brings to the equation.
Author’s Note: This post was taken from content I’d written earlier.