What Can Brands Learn from Taking a Sustainability Approach to their Social Media?

Posted on July 26, 2011 by


I have always expected people who truly understand social media to also get sustainability. The two, in my mind, are based upon the same principles: being sustainable is not as simple as using low energy light bulbs, just as having a social media strategy is not a simple case of opening a Twitter account.

© Alasdair Munn 2008-2011

Indeed, a sustainability strategy for a community of poor sighted people might avoid the use of low energy light bulbs, as their needs require brilliant light. A social media strategy for a technology firm engaged in proprietary systems for a narrow niche may not use any overt social media tools such as Twitter. Their NDA requirements and narrow focus might be better served through using social media tools that assist their customers find, prioritize and personalize their content needs through tagging, filtering, rating, and permissions based profiles.

Sustainability involves whole systems thinking. It is based upon four pillars

  • Environment
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Cultural.

A sustainable strategy needs to be infused into every aspect of an organization. It requires integration with existing strategies and it absolutely needs stakeholder buy in, internal and external.

As with sustainability, social media and social media strategy involves the process of whole system thinking and integration. The same four pillars of sustainability can, and indeed should, apply.

The open, collaborative and responsive approach found in social media is the same shift in approach that dominates organizations that embrace sustainability. This is easier to see in Not For Profit organizations who approach their social media with an objectives mindset versus purely money driven. The objectives are to shift peoples’ perceptions, create buy-in, facilitate dialogue and action through story telling, crowdsourcing, listening, learning, teaching and empowering. It is not only about donor funding, and when it is approached through providing compelling reasons to do so.

This week’s #SMchat explores what lessons the corporate world can learn from taking a sustainability approach to their social media. Here’s what we’ll consider:

Q1: Other than appealing for donor funding, what are the overarching objectives for Not For Profits?

Q2: How can a NFP use social media to achieve its goals?

Q3: How do we get FP organizations to think of objectives beyond just revenue?

Q4: How can sustainability and NFP goals empower brands, or cause marketing?

Q5: What can we change about the way we talk about Social Media to get this message across?

We will be discussing these questions on Wednesday July 27th at 1pm EST. You can sign in via Tweet Chat or just follow the Hashtag, #SMchat.

Join us.

Posted in: Non Profits