Social media: Time for brands to move from lip-service to actual action
Written by Steve Biko Wafula
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We tend to, collectively, think of social media as either “personal,” ”political,” or “commercial.” “Personal” is connecting with old friends from high school, or sharing your love of your beer can collection (for some people it will always be 1977). “Political” is voicing your beliefs in a way never before seen in such a scale, from the recent wild fire spread across North Africa to President Obama’s social election strategy. “Commercial” is our ability to interact with a company as equals, from how we buy to how we express our opinions of that company. However, with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR, for short), we have the perfect blend of all three in social media and this ultimately brings us to the question of just how serious are firms on CSR and delivery and how many of those CSR programs target the less fortunate away from the media pomp and colour. This makes me think of Catherine Bosibori, she of Alliance Girls, thanks to the kind hearts of twitter who contributed and ensured that she didn’t forfeit her chance at the prestigious school.
The best girl in West Pokot County was unable to raise the fees required to attend the prestigious national school. Catherine Bosibori who scored 398 marks in the KCPE exam had been called to Alliance Girls High School and required about 60,000 shillings to be admitted. The bright student, whose mum passed on while she watched had less than a week to raise the fees before the admission date of 30th January. Given the strict terms of admission of the school, if by close of business today and she had not reported, then she would forfeit her chance to another.
Social media has gone public, thanks to the Facebook IPO, though despite the glitches its experiencing, has demonstrated that how we engage, communicate, do business, refer each other to good deals has changed and more so, how we help the less fortunate in society. From Kenyans 4kenyas which was viral for weeks as Kenyans raised funds to help the hunger stricken folks of Turkana region. This good will didn’t stop there and Kenyans on twitter or as they are better known by the hash tag #KOT went ahead and contributed the little they had for Catherine and updates are that she has settled in very well at the Alliance Girls.
Through the online engagement firms online like @safaricomltd, @kcbgroup, @asccltd and @naivas_kenya did promise to step in and see how they could help Catherine Bosibori and interesting enough @naiva_kenya did give her shopping worth KES 10,000 and @asccltd went beyond their lip service and paid her fees in complete for the second and third term, though updates indicate the more terms and conditions were placed on Catherine BosiBori’s fees and hence the KES 45,000 that was given by African Salihiya Cargo & Clearing would now be used for second term only.
African Salihiya Cargo & Clearing actions, a leading firm in the clearing and forwarding industry showed that it does not need media and pomp to execute its CSR responsibility to the community which it operates in, given that they do sponsor a football team in Mombasa, as a way of engaging the youth to keep away from drugs and enhance better social skills. To African Salihiya, it’s more than lip service. It’s all about delivery. The firms decision made a simple girl from West Pokot have belief in her future and the goodness of humanity.
African Salihiya FC; One of the Football teams sponsored by the Clearing and Forwarding firm.
This has left many a sour taste in our mouth, as we expected the likes of @safarciomltd and @kcbroup to easily help out since this is their forte, where their CSR activities are media events, but we have not lost hope as we await to see what they will do concerning the same issue.
Thanks to social media, we can now monitor corporate CSR and be able to see which brands are worth being engaged with or not, which brands are worth developing trust with and which are not. It’s no longer business as usual and many brands will not hide behind media functions to tell us just how CSR friendly they are. Social media has taken over.
Social media now provides greater transparency how companies behave – both good and bad. It is not just how they position their products and services. We can now see how a company treats employees – partners and suppliers – customers – even countries. The age old truism is even truer today “All things being equal, we do business with people we like and trust.” For businesses, it is no longer as simple as having the best product or best price. Those are important elements, but how they act, how they engage with their communities plays an even greater role. There is no reason to believe it will not only become more so.Social media does give us the perfect blend of personal, political, and commercial when it comes to CSR