A Framework for Social Media in Sustainability Programs

Over the next several months I will be contributing to the Sustainable Business Forum and Social Media Today on the topic of social business (aka “SocBiz”) and how these tools, methods and approaches can be used to address sustainability programs.  The first article in the series outlines a framework – a cycle – of how private and public sector organizations typically adopt these approaches through four phases of the information life cycle of sustainability efforts.

In my work with companies looking to promote their outbound market and internal communications messages, I have looked at a number of “socialbiz” tools and methods that seem to be resonating in the workplace particularly with those that are members of the Millennial Generation who find messaging platforms are more preferable than corporate or personal email systems. In addition there has been an explosion over the past three years in the use of business analytic platforms and how these platforms render real-time information related to business performance against key targets and metrics. Combine this with the need for greater and more detailed communication regarding sustainability initiatives – including the bounce that mobility and social tools bring to program funding – and you find the convergence point.

Use of Social Media tools during sustainability effort should support the information life cycle.

As I pointed out recently in an Institute of Management Consulting webinar series on the topic, using social business tools is not child’s play. In fact one of the key success factors in using socialbiz platforms is to keep it relevant, timely and focused. I use the expression SAFTK (“stay away from the kids”) for business leaders and IT managers to know that there is a deep well of lost productivity if the tools are used for the wrong purposes across the wrong channels of communication. For example while news and media streams are helpful to keep general knowledge current and to see what the marketplace is communicating about your products and services, the use of socialbiz tools should be business-driven. For sustainability efforts, this means driving market objectives, internal consensus, and developing the requisite information to show the world you really are doing what you say you are.

In the framework I have developed to illustrate this life-cycle for sustainability programs, the axes are based on both the outbound and inbound direction of the communication as well as the strategic or operational context of the messaging. Based on this framework, organizations typically begin in the northeast (upper-right hand) quadrant and work counter-clockwise in their use of social media and socialbiz tools to address the activities of each stage of the life cycle.

For more information on this approach, including a discussion on the four phases of information use in sustainability programs, please read the entire post on Sustainable Business Forum.  Many thanks to editor Carissa Wodehouse  (twitter @CWhoa and Google+ Carissa Wodehouse) for her work on bringing this article series to light.

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2 Comments

Filed under Change Management and Leadership, Community and Municipal Outreach, Compliance, Operations, Supply Chain Management, Sustainability

2 responses to “A Framework for Social Media in Sustainability Programs

  1. Pingback: Strategic Intent for Green Marketing and Disclosure Using Social Media | The View from C-Level

  2. Pingback: Using Social Business Tools to Increase Performance Management and Reporting in Sustainability Programs | The View from C-Level

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