Can you have a true “discussion” about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) if you limit participants to a 140-character sound bite each time they weigh in?
Notwithstanding that it could be an extremely effective way to manage overly garrulous people, Susan McPherson, senior vice president/director of global marketing at Fenton, says that a twitter-based conversation on CSR can—and does–work.
McPherson had no idea when she first tried a Twitter chat on CSR how effective this social media platform would be. But after the initial chat that she hosted, she had an unexpectedly huge response.
“It was originally planned as just one event,” recalls McPherson. “Literally, I just thought about it and announced that I was doing it. I wasn’t thinking at the time of creating a whole series that would continue on for two+ years.”
There was so much positive feedback, however, that after 12 months of successful chats happening on an ad hoc basis, McPherson decided to publish a calendar of topics at the beginning of this year. She also started inviting special guests to participate in the biweekly chats.
Topics range from Successful NGO Partnerships to Developing A CSR Plan—themes and challenges around CSR.
An expert on CSR, McPherson is invested in helping her company Fenton, a public interest communications firm, grow its corporate responsibility practice. She is also committed to educating and spreading the word about CSR best practices.
Her original goal—which she says hasn’t changed–in launching the twitter chat concept was to share ideas, make connections and help promote an engaging platform for corporate responsibility and sustainability. She is absolutely committed to keeping the format informal, engaging, and encouraging an open, inspiring dialog.
“Twitter is a great platform for hosting these discussions’ says McPherson. “Social and digital are now inextricably linked to CSR because of the need and expectation for transparency.”
She says the growing popularity of CSR is also stimulating interest from many college graduates and MBAs, who are looking to work for companies with a social mission or at minimum, a conscience. And they are heavy users of social media platforms.
So what 140-character advice would Susan tweet to any mid-size company thinking of starting a CSR initiative?
“Make it systemic throughout your entire company, involve all employees, customers, partners, shareholders—even local citizens and keep it relevant to your biz.
Check out the complete schedule of upcoming CSR chats hosted by Susan McPherson, including a discussion with Margaret Coady tomorrow, November 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm EST. Participants are encouraged to engage and follow along by using the hashtag #csrchat.