Integrating CSR in digital marketing strategy 

To what extent does a corporation owe their success to society? Are they obliged to give back to the community at all?

Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer just about big companies doing philanthropic activities.

Today more and more consumers are thinking beyond price and quality. People started caring about how a pair of jeans is made abroad, and how the food is produced.

But that’s not exactly a new trend. The debate surrounding CSR has been there. But consumer expectations are constantly evolving. So does their ways of thinking about CSR.

But are brands keeping up with the change?

Perception is a big deal for brands. And social media has unmistakably pinpointed brands’ vulnerability to perception. Just like how #BoycottDolceGabbana is now attracting viral backlash on Twitter just because of one simple yet insensitive comment.

Do Social media expose your corporate irresponsibility?

Digital has helped companies market themselves much more effectively and widely. Social media is one major tool that has exposed big corporations’ CSR failures.

Sometimes it is easier for brands to go viral for the wrong reason. In other words, consumers are more likely to forget a social media win than a fail.

Consumers are no longer digesting whatever aspirational image you want to sell to them. People are increasingly critical to businesses and how they position themselves in the CSR area. McDonald’s doing charity? That’s almost taken for granted. So what’s next? Many want to know more about their specific view on child obesity.

A better way of communicating ‘new’ CSR

Create conversation and build connections

Businesses are businesses. They do need to make profits to survive this competitive landscape. Nevertheless, the cost of doing nothing is not a viable option. Brands can’t simply be left behind in the changing CSR landscape.

Social Media Sustainability Index has revealed that ‘companies are increasingly looking to connect with people in an entertaining, informative and authentic voice on issues they are passionate about’. Issues can be as simple as ensuring products free from poisons, or promoting a healthy way of living.

Easy to say. But is it more of bluffing, and little of action? What social media often lack is revealing real case studies these days. And very few brands do know how to show off their positive roles in digital marketing strategies, without making it look like another ‘window dressing’.

First thing first, you need to get your good work noticed on your website, social media and everywhere to build a connection.

Finding the relevant cause and the right community.

‘’The ‘new’ CSR is about maximising brand profit and being a force for social good, in nearly-equal measure.’’

But your brand can’t simply please everyone with different cause (that’s an old way of thinking about CSR). While you think you are ‘contributing’ to a part of society, you are at the same time ignoring other causes.

Savvy brands, however, know how to overcome that dilemma. They define the community they belong to. Take New Balance’s #goodgym / #UseYourRun, for example. It is a brilliant case showing how a brand can tie business and social at the grassroots level.

Rather than throwing your money in a charity investing in a relevant and local project while involving your customers is much more effective to show your brand cares about the community. New Balance is building an appropriate link between their products (running shoes), their users (the majority of whom are runners) and the local community’s needs.

When the connection between a CSR activity and the company’s core business is a close one, it’s entirely appropriate to link the two in brand marketing activities.’’  Once you make the connection, the only thing you need to implement it is an engaging marketing strategy – could be in a form of video, blog, native advertising, social media and so on.

Transparency matters.

Instead of using big buzz words like ‘sustainability’ ‘global governance’, there are simpler ways to prove your brand’s social efforts.

Whether you want to be greener, innovative or fairer, you need to fit those ideas into your digital marketing strategy. And one of the greatest ways of integrating CSR into your digital marketing is that you can minimise the potential costs and risks.

Numbers do matter. But sometimes it is ‘showing what you do’ that really counts to your brand reputation. Also add some personal touch to what you do, like through your own employees, who are also the most effective communication channel. A nice image of your employee getting involved in CSR activities make a powerful and significant change (also proves that your CSR activities are well integrated within your company as a whole.)

For example, a quick Facebook post like intel’s employees in a town in Bangladesh can start a conversation, enhancing the company’s transparency.

 And little things like that will make a big difference to how your consumers perceive your brand.


Amongst many reasons why people buy things, the social aspect is not exceptional.

To really show your company’s commitment, without acting like a corporate hypocrisy, you need to put CSR at the heart of your digital marketing strategy.

What do you think?

Appnova is a digital agency specialising in web design, UX, eCommerce, branding, digital marketing and social media.

Keep following us on Twitter @appnova and “like” us on Facebook for useful news and tasteful digressions about geeky stuff.

Written by Waka



Leave a Comment