Think back a few years and the buzz word of the business world was CSR (corporate social responsibility).
In 2012, sustainability was on everyone’s agenda, but this year there’s been an apparent shift to sociability.
Sociability relates to an organisation’s online presence and its level of online social engagement.
It’s seen as a way of externalising a company’s culture and identity and can add value to a company in a powerful but less obvious way.
Corporate sociability, done well, can enable an organisation to showcase their internal culture as well as CSR and sustainability efforts, thereby encapsulating and communicating the organisation’s brand image, as a whole.
On the other hand, some nay-sayers argue that companies jumping on the social media bandwagon are just doing so to feign social responsibility. Note to social media novices: don’t participate in a charity fun run, just so you can blog about it. The socially-savvy consumer doesn’t tolerate self-advertisement, but will appreciate a real-time glimpse into the culture of your business.
Most medium-to-large scale businesses are already taking CSR reporting for granted and will gladly report on “green” initiatives while looking for ways to save time and money on resourcing. Sustainability is not only an expectation from the community but also supports long-term business goals. This may be the reason why businesses have moved relatively quickly to adopt these practices.
Sociability, on the other hand, may seem scary or unnecessary to some businesses, as the long term benefits can seems less tangible. Furthermore, corporate reputation can be compromised as a result of online or social media backlash. However, this is no different to backlash in other forms; it is only less understood. Sociability is about focusing on social reputation and genuine conversations, rather than blatant advertisements and marketing strategies.
Finally, sociability is more than just having a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn presence. Some of these channels may even be ineffective or inappropriate for some brands. And in some instances, sociability is less about the channel and more about the content. For example, social media responds well to creative and useful content that can be easily shared between online users, such as mini videos, apps, infographics and blogs.
The truth is there are many platforms and approaches to facilitate corporate storytelling. At its core, regardless of social media platform or channel, online business campaigns should prioritise transparency and authenticity.
Make sociability your buzz word in 2013.
Are you already, or thinking about, employing sociability practices in your workplace? We’d love to hear from you – share your thoughts below.