Session 17, Tuccillo et al.

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CSR & Consumer Empowernment

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  • Good afternoon, I’m Carmela Tuccillo, a Ph.D candidate in Marketing and Communication from the University of Salerno, Italy. As you can see from the title, the present case study paper is on the impact of consumer empowerment in CSR online communication through the analysis of Eni, an Italian energy company.
  • Let me do the following consideration as starting point: this paper centres on the basic assumption that, despite the increasing importance of consumer empowerment in social media context, almost none of the previous studies have investigated the integration between consumer empowerment and CSR online communication . In fact, the purpose of this study is in fact, the investigation of the impact of the use of social media tools and the related online consumers’ power in terms of CSR communication activities. Starting from the literature review on communication and marketing theories to describe the role of consumer empowerment in CSR strategies, we propose a classification of the most important actions used to implement CSR communication online according to the Eni case study.
  • In an emerging age of responsibility, consumers and companies are becoming more and more interested in blogs and forums that provide real-time information on topical corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues . On the one hand consumers through using social media gain “power” through the participation and collaboration online on sustainability issues. On the other hand, t he use of interactive tools can help organizations to gain an increasing “corporate social responsiveness”. This evidence implies that companies monitor and control stakeholders demands, and design plans and policies to respond to changing conditions in the emerging social media context through new CSR strategy.
  • Few studies have begun to explore the importance of social media in understanding empowerment processes and outcomes . Here you can see a table that summarise the different activities of empowered consumers in CSR online communication . In an environment in which stakeholders are increasingly active, companies have to get stakeholders engaged on sustainability issues using new ideas and communication channels to motivate them.
  • In order to conduct the research, the analysis of the Eni case study is based on a questionnaire completed by CSR manager and on the analysis of the official documents and (offline and online) publications. The questionnaire was sent by e-mail to the company, contacted during the period May 2011-June 2011. Four essential elements are investigated, in order to construct a case study codebook that underpins and highlights this study: Eni’s mission and sustainability; the role of consumer empowerment in Eni’s CSR strategy; mapping of the main tools and activities that Eni adopts in its CSR online communication; results and future developments.
  • CSR communication in Eni plays a vital role in establishing, maintaining and improving relations with the broad range of stakeholders, also through the filter of the social media tools. The analysis of the Eni case study shows that the company focuses its CSR strategy on the development of new initiatives that improve dialogue with its stakeholders. The table below indicates the benefits that company could expect for all the CSR communication activities. Eni focuses its CSR strategy on the development of new online initiatives that improve dialogue with its stakeholders with an efficient and real-time communication.
  • To analyse ENI’s CSR online communication, the three main elements of online consumer empowerment (e-WOM, social media coverage and strategic partnership), described in the “literature review” section, might be useful to identify and categorize the position that Eni holds in its CSR online communication (the analysis was conducted on July and August 2011). As shown in the Table some of ENI’s efforts in online communication are linked to a dimension of corporate social responsibility. In fact as you can see from the table, the Facebook pages, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, are linked to social and cultural issues, such as the improvement of basic education and the development of professional training.
  • In 2011 Eni started a new way of communicating its commitment to sustainability development testing the “One Report” integration approach. The new reporting system represents an innovative course of action aimed at demonstrating how sustainability is integrated in Eni’s strategies and activities. The main objectives of the sustainability reporting mix available on the Eni website are (fig. 2): communicate with all stakeholders; avoid any gaps between consumer perception and company’s image ; establish, maintain and improve the relationship with the associations and stakeholders.
  • To sum up exploring social media tools is an opportunity to investigate CSR communication from a different point of view. From the analysis of the Eni case study is evident the development of interest towards the use of social media tools that help firms to improve dialogue with its stakeholders, in order to prevent the emergence of negative e-WOM and a necessity to plan a CSR program according to stakeholders’ mainly used communication channels, such as social media. An effective CSR strategy involves empowering customers to cooperate in selecting the effective tools to communicate on CSR and in the co-creation of new channel of communication. From a practical point of view this paper offers useful indications to manager and to practitioners who implement CSR strategy for the first time or that have to better plan and manage online CSR communication through the possibility of a targeting CSR communication One limitation of our study is the use of a single Italian energy company . For this reason the paper can be considered a first step and it needs to be followed by further research in other countries and for other types of companies.
  • Thank you
  • Session 17, Tuccillo et al.

    1. 1. The role of consumer empowerment in CSR online communication. The case study of an Italian energy company (Italy) UNIVERSITY OF SALERNO Carmela Tuccillo , Agostino Vollero, Maria Giovanna Confetto , Silvia Cosimato, University of Salerno
    2. 2. P urpose and Roadmap <ul><li>Purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Investigating the impact of the use of social media tools and the related online consumers’ power in terms of CSR communication activities. </li></ul><ul><li>Roadmap </li></ul><ul><li>literature review on communication and marketing theories to describe </li></ul><ul><li>the role of consumer empowerment in CSR strategies </li></ul><ul><li>a classification of the actions used to implement CSR communication online </li></ul><ul><li>by Eni </li></ul><ul><li>concluding remarks </li></ul>
    3. 3. The development of social media platforms, the creation of communities and the interaction on social networks strongly impact on the behaviour of consumers and companies. The impact of social media tools in CSR online communication Consumer empowerment CSR strategy Consumers Companies Stakeholders’ expectations contribute to influence CSR online communication (Den Hond et al., 2007) . T he use of interactive tools help organizations to gain an increasing “corporate social responsiveness” ( Frederick, 2008 ). Consumers are interested in blogs and forums that provide real-time information on topical CSR issues (Becker- Olsen et al., 2006; Nan and Heo, 2007 ). Social media tools are used by companies: to discuss CSR topics in a friendly context and to spread CSR information more quickly and less expensively among different stakeholders (Schneider et al., 2010). Through using social media, stakeholders gain “power” as they are increasingly able to participate in, share and collaborate online relative to sustainability issues. Companies monitor and control stakeholders demands, and design plans and policies to respond to changing conditions in the emerging social media context.
    4. 4. Exploring the role of consumer empowerment in CSR online communication The extent of empowerment in CSR online communication represents an opportunity to explore empowerment processes and outcomes. Consumers can have a significant role in the planning of CSR online communication Consumers participate in useful work with each other and co-create new information and other meaningful activities concerning CSR Consumers make personal choices about CSR issues in social media Consumers share information about CSR using social media platforms Activities of empowered consumers in CSR online communication
    5. 5. <ul><li>The analysis of the Eni case study is based on a questionnaire completed by CSR manager and on the analysis of the official documents and (offline and online) publications. </li></ul><ul><li>The research objectives are: </li></ul><ul><li>to explore the increase of social media usage in CSR online communication </li></ul><ul><li>to identify the specific tools and actions used by Eni to respond to consumers empowerment </li></ul>Research methodology and objectives Eni is a major integrated energy company committed to growth through activities of finding, producing, transporting, transforming and marketing oil and gas
    6. 6. Objectives of Eni’s CSR activities CSR online communication Consumer empowerment To improve dialogue with its stakeholders, using new communication channel in order to prevent the emergence of negative e-WOM. Objectives of Eni’s CSR activities To spread CSR related information among stakeholders and increase community relations. To build and maintain a positive image and reputation and legitimate the company’s CSR activities. To establish and maintain relationships with all stakeholders with an efficient and real-time communication.
    7. 7. The three main elements of online consumer empowerment, might be useful to identify and categorize the position that Eni holds in its CSR online communication. Analysis Some of ENI’s efforts in online communication are linked to a dimension of CSR E-Wom Social media coverage Strategic partnerships <ul><li>Facebook: Eni- Tiziano a Milano likes 1001 individuals; Caravaggio at Porto Ercole likes 490 individuals; Eniscuola Net (537 friends), 6000 studends; 7 million pages visited by 950,000 users. </li></ul><ul><li>Linkedin 834 </li></ul><ul><li>- Twitter 1026 </li></ul><ul><li>- Flickr 15 </li></ul><ul><li>- Youtube 247 (2 years) </li></ul><ul><li>Slideshare 8 presentations </li></ul><ul><li>20 documents </li></ul><ul><li>15 followers 82 tags </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia: </li></ul><ul><li>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eni </li></ul>3% strength – is the likelihood that ENI is being discussed in social media. 5:1 sentiment – is the ratio of mentions that are generally positive to those that are generally negative. 39% passion – is a measure of the like hood that individuals talking about ENI will do so repeatedly. 9 reach% – is a measure of the range of influence. - In 2009 Eni was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. - In 2009 Eni was ranked first in the CSR Online Award 2009. - In June 2009 Eni’s CEO received the Foreign Policy Association’s CSR Award. - In 2010 Eni has also been confirmed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Europe for the third consecutive year. - In 2011 Eni awarded &quot;Gold Class&quot; in the SAM Sustainability Yearbook 2011.
    8. 8. <ul><li>Discussion </li></ul><ul><li>ENI: The “One Report” integration approach </li></ul><ul><li>Eni started a new way of communicating to response to the increasing power of consumers. All suggestions received and all comments will help Eni to create an open, constructive and respectful dialogue with all those who take part. </li></ul><ul><li>Objectives: </li></ul><ul><li>communicate with all stakeholders; </li></ul><ul><li>avoid any gaps between consumer perception and company’s image; </li></ul><ul><li>establish, maintain and improve the relationship with the associations and stakeholders. </li></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>An effective CSR strategy involves empowering customers to cooperate in selecting the effective tools to communicate on CSR and in the co-creation of new channel of communication </li></ul><ul><li>the necessity to integrate social media tools in marketing communications strategies addressed to sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>the possibility of a targeting CSR communication for specific groups </li></ul>CSR Conclusions
    10. 10. Thank you for your attention! For further information, please visit our website: http://dsc.unisa.it/Siano/index_en.htm

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