Corporate Social Responsibility Belongs in Your Employee Advocacy Program
Many employee advocacy programs focus solely on promoting a company’s marketing-related content. While that’s one way of doing advocacy, it’s not the only way. Many companies are overlooking the gold mine that is corporate social responsibility (CSR). Volunteer work and community organizing provide ample opportunities for employees to show another side of your business on social networks.
Indeed, employee advocacy and CSR go together like love and marriage, like peas and carrots, like peanut butter and jelly… You get the picture. In this post, we’ll take a look at a few tips for bringing life to your CSR initiatives through employee advocacy.
A Glance at Corporate Social Responsibility
If your company already has corporate social responsibility initiatives in place, you have seen the benefits. But just in case you haven’t looked into CSR or need a quick refresher, here are a few highlights:
- 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for products from socially responsible companies.
- With millenials, that number is even higher. 70% of millennials are willing to spend more on brands that support the causes they care about.
- Continuing in the millenial vein, CSR can help attract new talent. Millennials like to work for companies that share their values. More than half of millennials take into consideration their morals and values when choosing an employer.
- Furthermore, studies have shown that corporate social responsibility initiatives can help companies gain trust and legitimacy in their markets.
Now that we’ve quickly outlined the benefits of CSR, it’s time to discuss how you can showcase your company’s values and social impact. That’s where employee advocacy comes in…
6 Quick Tips for Mixing Employee Advocacy and CSR
Rather than posting about your CSR initiatives solely from nameless, faceless corporate channels on social media, it makes sense to include your employees, doesn’t it? After all, your employees are the ones who bring your CSR initiatives to life, and chances are they’re proud of the work they’re doing. So, here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Align CSR to Your Brand
There are plenty of examples where companies have been derided for paying lip-service to their social causes. You can probably think of a few off the top of your head. (If you can’t, just do a Google search.) That’s why all CSR initiatives should be aligned with the brand and culture that the company espouses and that employees are living each and every day.
For example, if your company wants to position itself as a good neighbor in the local community, you cannot have ineffective community development programs. Or worse, you cannot have non-existent community development programs. You need to tie your neighborly efforts to proof points that show your company’s impact on the community.
2. Encourage Your C-Suite to Promote CSR Initiatives
Your executives’ participation is crucial for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, executives are the most visible employees at your company. As such, they should commit to your company’s CSR initiatives and actively discuss them on social networks. If middle managers and individual contributors are the only ones who promote your social responsibility activities, buyers and corporate stakeholders will notice. And most likely, they will not hold a favorable opinion of your company because it will seem as though your company is not fully committed to your social endeavors.
Second, executive participation sets the tone and tenor for the rest of your employees.There’s a trickle-down effect when it comes to employee advocacy and CSR. Without the example of the company’s leadership, your employees will not feel like they can (or should) discuss their volunteering efforts on social networks.
3. Commit to CSR
Some companies treat CSR like a box that they need to check. They do their yearly volunteering. They tweet about it. They write a blog post about it. Their employees share that blog post. Then, they’re done for the rest of the year.
But here’s the thing: “One and done” CSR campaigns can deter company stakeholders, who easily detect inauthenticity. If you’re going to incorporate CSR into your employee advocacy program, it needs to be on an ongoing basis. It needs to be something that employees are routinely involved with, feel proud of, and are willing to discuss with their friends, families, and colleagues on social networks.
4. Focus on the Community Impact
CSR initiatives backfire when they are self-centered. That’s why you should encourage your employees to focus on the impact. How are other people benefiting from your company’s activities?
For example, if your company runs a canned food drive, sure, employees can tweet about the thousands of cans that your company collected. But be sure to emphasize how the food will be beneficial for your community.
5. Supply Educational Content
A good CSR program is not just about actions. It’s also about education. Your employees need to understand why your company is participating in, say, the fight against hunger. Armed with that knowledge, your employees will be eager to help their family, friends, and colleagues understand the issues that your company cares about.
Education requires content. While your company can create masses of great content, you shouldn’t forget to share credible third-party content with your employees on issues that are important to your company. And don’t discourage them from disseminating that educational content to their connections on social media. The more people who understand what’s at stake, the better.
6. Ensure that the Company’s Social Media Policy Reflects a Commitment to CSR
Let’s imagine that your social media policy discourages employees from discussing sensitive issues on social media. At the same time, you want your employees to promote your CSR initiatives, which may revolve around sensitive topics like sustainability or LGBTQ youth or any number of issues. That leaves your employees in a pickle, doesn’t it? How can employees comply with your social media policy and promote your CSR initiatives? That’s why it’s important to take CSR into consideration as you craft a social media policy.
An effective employee advocacy strategy doesn’t just include marketing promotions and offers. With some creative thinking, you can think of other ways to excite your employees and buyers on social media. For instance, you can use your employee advocacy program to promote your company’s culture, and corporate social responsibility initiatives are a good starting point. By using the tips above, you’ll be armed with the best practices for mixing employee advocacy and CSR. Good luck!