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Fulfilling the Social Contract through Social Media media

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Social media is often seen by most organizations as a means to an end. And its success is considered to be a happy accident – but in reality, it's a product of meticulous planning and strategizing …

Social media is often seen by most organizations as a means to an end. And its success is considered to be a happy accident – but in reality, it's a product of meticulous planning and strategizing that helps deliver sustainability.

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  • 1. Insights Fulfilling the Social Contract through Social Media - Simon Towers, Ananthalakshmi V. V. In their enthusiasm to be part of the Facebook universe, most organizations are mistaking the means of social media for the end itself. However, even a very quick analysis tells that social media success isn’t a happy accident arising from a Twitter following, but rather, the outcome of a well-planned strategy designed to fulfill a business objective. When that objective is sustainability, social media acts as an excellent mechanism of delivery of the “social contract”, that unwritten agreement by which organizations are bound to their extended stakeholders carrying implicit expectations of socio- ecologically correct corporate behavior. Indeed, when organizations use social media to fulfill this obligation, they come full circle, because this is where it all starts; this is the playground of customers, advocacy groups and larger communities spreading environmental awareness, promoting sustainable practices and pressuring businesses to own up to their social responsibilities. In other words, honor their social contract. www.infosys.com
  • 2. The full impact of sustainable initiatives can only be realized through wider and spread-out participation. Therefore, organizations must not stop at becoming more sustainable, but instead, spread awareness of their goals among customers, partners and other stakeholders. Social media is the perfect vehicle for communicating with and educating the community and even other companies on how they can contribute to saving the environment by acting There are many ways in which and consuming more responsibly. Chevron is doing precisely this – besides organizations can use social media showcasing its socially responsible side – by vocalizing its strong support for to promote sustainability, ethical community initiatives on its website. business practices, environmental consciousness and socially Conversations on sustainability issues can also evolve into innovation and co- responsible behavior. Foremost is creation partnerships. Patagonia gets store customers to vote on how the stores transparency. On social channels, must spend some of their environmental grants budgets. CFS, the financial co- companies can come face to face operative from the U.K., advises customers on investing ethically. Amsterdam’s with their stakeholders to engage Schiphol Airport has set up an innovation platform focused on sustainability in honest, two -way dialog devoid in partnership with some universities and research institutions. And Pepsi has of corporate speak. Sporting diverted its Super Bowl advertising budget into a portal where it invites people goods manufacturer Patagonia is to come forward with sustainable project ideas that they’re willing to execute a shining example of this as it lays (and Pepsi is willing to fund). bare its processes and policies for A company’s image is not created within its four walls anymore. Consumer public inspection. sentiment travels fast and furiously on social networks, to make or break reputation in a matter of days. Who can forget that it was opinion mobilized on social media, which forced Bank of America to retract its draconian debit card fee? It is critical that organizations monitor social channels to understand how their actions, including efforts at sustainability, are being perceived by the public, so that they can take timely remedial measures if necessary. By facilitating transparency, communication and co-creation in social media, what companies are actually doing is improving engagement, which is the core of the social contract. The beauty of social media is that it not only allows Their website “The Footprint stakeholders to make their expectations known but also to engage in their Chronicles”, features among fulfillment. To pro sustainability companies, social media offers a way to come other things, the complete life closer to customers, participate in the greater good, raise their sustainability cycle of Patagonia products – quotient and also earn business benefits. At low cost, and more importantly, at from sourcing to processing to no cost to the environment. transportation to delivery and the Unfortunately, most organizations haven’t yet made the connection between impact on the environment – as their social contract and social media, and are merely caught up in putting well as its paper procurement and the latter to some, even any, use. They need to recognize both – social media’s consumption practices, sustainable influence over their own sustainability and sustainability agendas and its power approach to building design, and to help them meet their social obligations. Even organizations that are social numerous programs in support of media savvy on many fronts, such as employee engagement, haven’t consciously environmental causes. used their platforms to focus attention on sustainability. It is imperative to make them see how integral the social media mechanism is to stakeholder engagement and sustainability strategy en route to fulfillment of the social contract.2 | Infosys
  • 3. About the Authors Simon Towers Associate Vice President and Group Manager- Center of Innovation for Tomorrow’s Enterprise, Infosys Labs Dr. Simon Towers is the GM/AVP and Head of the Center of Innovation for Tomorrow’s Enterprise, part of Infosys Labs. He and his family are based in Bangalore. After completing a DPhil at Oxford University and post-doctoral work at Edinburgh University, Dr. Towers has spent most of his career in industrial research for companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Adobe Systems in the UK and California’s bay area. However, driven by a strong desire to see the fruits of his research make it into products, he has also spent significant parts of his career in product groups for Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. Most recently, prior to joining Infosys, he was part of a startup company. He has a number of patents and numerous conference and journal publications. In his current role at Infosys, Dr Towers heads the Center of Innovation for Tomorrow’s Enterprise. This organization is the home for seven research institutes that drive the research behind Infosys’s corporate initiative of Building Tomorrow’s Enterprise. In addition, the center undertakes research on co-creation as an approach to innovation and drives Infosys-wide initiatives to enhance the internal culture of innovation. Ananthalakshmi V. V. Principal Technology Architect, Infosys Labs, Infosys Limited Ananthalakshmi has 14 years of industry experience. She is currently a Research anchor for the ‘Sustainable Tomorrow’ theme under Building Tomorrow’s Enterprise campaign. Ananthalakshmi also leads the IT Modernization and Sustainability tracks at Infosys Labs. She specializes in software architecture and solution design for different industry domains. Ananthalakshmi will blog on Sustainability, energy management, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Sustainability. Infosys | 3
  • 4. About InfosysMany of the worlds most successful organizations rely on Infosys todeliver measurable business value. Infosys provides business consulting,technology, engineering and outsourcing services to help clients in over30 countries build tomorrows enterprise.For more information, contact askus@infosys.com www.infosys.com© 2012 Infosys Limited, Bangalore, India. Infosys believes the information in this publication is accurate as of its publication date; such information is subject to change without notice. Infosys acknowledgesthe proprietary rights of the trademarks and product names of other companies mentioned in this document.