2014-07-23

The Pitfalls of Social Media Powered CSR

Over the past year or so, there has been an increase in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives driven or empowered by social media. Regardless what opinions you or I might have on the motives behind companies doing CSR, the fact remains that these contributions do eventually help people.

The last two major campaigns in Lebanon that I have seen sweeping across social media and twitter more specifically have involved highly commendable contributions to The Children Cancer Center of Lebanon.

Having met the fine people behind this endeavor, I cannot stress enough how much this center is a pillar of the fight against cancer, and should be strongly supported. I encourage everyone to participate in these campaigns so that the center can profit to the max.

Having said that, I must turn to the corporations who organize these giveaways. I might be a stickler here (when am I not?), but there is something deeply wrong with a contribution being conditioned by a company in exchange for users tweeting, liking or sharing their tweets or their posts. Are you or are you not supporting the cause? Why does it have to be conditional to social actions?
if I may portray this differently, if users don't tweet or interact, does that mean you will not be contributing as much to the charity in question?
I have been faced with clients who insisted on using such tactics in Lebanon and abroad, and have always recommended against that, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. My honest opinion is that the "good deed" should not be subject to social media blackmail.

One way of doing this properly is by setting the rules ahead and making the user's interaction decisive in choosing the destination of the donation NOT the amount!
A good example of this, is what INDEVCO Group (Sanita) did, back in 2012, through a Facebook campaign for their Paper Tissue brand Dreams entitled "Deyman Bifikrna" (Always in Mind).





In this case, Sanita decided ahead of time on the sum to be spent in terms of donation, and chose to allow their brand fans to express their opinion by choosing one of  8 different NGOs as candidates to receive the amount.
While they did leverage their CSR giveaway to generate social traffic, they did not condition neither the action, nor the amount to be contributed with users generating viral reach for the brand. This might be a rare time where I am not the cynic I usually am, but I like to think that the good deed itself would be enough to drive people to talk about it, without having to twist their arm and give them a candy afterwards.

That could be one way to do things; the other? well...I don't know...But I am sure with social media gurus out there, someone's bound to strike gold!