The path of business sustainability is a journey. And what makes up a journey? Experiences. As many are familiar in the sustainability space, high level sustainability concepts are universal and easier to understand. However, what is compelling is the expression of how an individual or a company embraces those sustainability concepts to deliver results.
We’re all captivated by the unique sustainability experiences but equally important is its delivery and expression. Social media for sustainability and CSR communications has proven to be an innovative and effective way to address two of the biggest hurdles around sustainability: defining what it is and providing the means and channels for sharing sustainability experiences.Why is Twitter a business development tool for sustainable businesses? Consider the following:
- Branding: As mentioned, a major component of any corporate sustainability plan isn’t so much how a company carries out those strategies but also how it communicates it to its many stakeholders. There is an emerging role of social media for stakeholder engagement and for businesses to communicate their broader corporate responsibility agenda. As illustrated in the post, 5 Sure Fire Ways to Find your Green Social Media Voice on Twitter there are multiple branding opportunities for green businesses.
- Prospecting: By using the Twitter search function, you can find the people who need what you sell, with whom you can do deals, etc.
- Networking: Using twitter as a tool to create and foster relationships is among one of its best attributes. Sustainable businesses looking to reduce cost, increase productivity while simultaneously reduce environmental impacts by minimizing travel are looking to technology to do the trick and twitter as a networking tool aids in this strategy.
- Engaging: By building strategic relationships with key influencers of sustainability in the social space, we all create and empower sustainability and its mainstream adoption. The post, 6 Ways to Build Strategic Relationships With Sustainability Influencers of Social Media explains how best to engage.
- Competitive intelligence: Creating bridges between the corporate world and its competitors, social media closes the gap on knowledge management and business intelligence. Social media for sustainability communications has become a risk or an opportunity. Monitoring, listening, and dialoguing in the social space not only offers a competitive advantage but also provides other key ingredients for successful social media engagement and competitor intelligence.
- Green Vendor Selection: Companies evaluating their vendors on mutual sustainability values have the opportunity to leverage twitter in building a relationship that provides transparency, visibility into operations, and creates opportunities for performance oversight.
- Stakeholder Conversations: Social media provides individuals, communities, businesses, and non-government organizations the ability to connect with business in meaningful discussion from anywhere in the world in real time. To focus the corporate ear, business sustainability minded organizations are engaging with stakeholders, who have a vested interest in the success of the business and profoundly advance the sustainability conversation.
- Reporting: It is becoming more common for businesses to integrate social media in the annual corporate sustainability report. However, a growing trend is to communications sustainability related KPI’s quarterly.
Julie Urlaub is the Founder and Managing Partner of Taiga Company and author of The Business Sustainability Handbook. Her popular award winning blog, engaged Twitter following of 53,000+, and her large, loyal following on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ has garnered her recognition as one of the top resources and thought leaders in social media engagement for sustainability. She has been recognized as Twitter’s 10th most influential sustainability voice in America by The Guardian and #25 Top EcoInfluencer on Twitter by Corporate Knights Magazine.