Be the first to like this
Corporate social responsibility (CSR), or a company‟s commitment to improve societal well-being through discretionary business practices and contributions of corporate resources (Kotler & Lee, 2005), is becoming more integrated into business by growing numbers of organizations. However, allowing an organization to truly leverage its CSR potentials via communication on the topic of CSR, remains a difficult subject for many companies. With the emergence of social media, new possibilities for reaching out to stakeholders have presented themselves. This study explores these possibilities through a benchmarking study of three European telecom providers. Throughout the thesis, the motivations of individuals to engage with a brand on the social networks Facebook and Twitter are taken into account. This study further investigates the consequences for the evaluations of these brands by the „fans and followers‟. Content analysis of the posted messages revealed that of the three companies, not a single one designates substantial amounts of attention to CSR-topics in their communication through social networks. Interaction with stakeholders on the topic was also scarce. Results of a survey among social media users showed that motivations for engaging with a brand differ per network. Facebook-users generally are driven more intensely by a need for information, remuneration, entertainment, identity, and interaction than Twitter-users. Additionally, it appeared that brand interaction through Facebook has the most positive influence on the perception of the brand by the individual. Nevertheless, respondents preferred Twitter as a channel for information about network disturbances and for webcare purposes, in which the channel can contribute to protecting the corporate reputation.
Key words: corporate communication, corporate social responsibility, CSR communication, reputation management, social media, social network sites, uses and gratifications.
This study was presented at the Social Media for Social Purposes Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, October 31, 2011.