First in our series of whitepaper extracts, this article is taken from the 2015 Responsible Business Report

Social media has become a vital communications tool for companies. It provides a quick and efficient way to reach an organisation's community. More importantly, it's the best platform to listen to customers in real-time and understand their thoughts and ideas. Companies that are mastering this two-way communication are strengthening both their sustainability strategy and also business strategy.

The below is an extract from the 2015 Responsible Business Summit post-conference report. It highlights how ITV, DSM and Fashion Revolution have successfully engaged their community via social media.

Use social media to strengthen your commercial position

Orsola de Castro is co-founder of Fashion Revolution, which was created in response to the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013.

“It was an accident waiting to happen,” she explains. We reached out to our peers and created a core of experts and an advisory committee, said de Castro.

One in six people works in the global fashion supply chain, according to de Castro, making it the most labour-dependent industry on the planet, and tragedies like Rana Plaza are made possible by the disconnections within the fashion supply chain. “Fashion Revolution is about following the thread, from the consumers to the cotton farmers,” she said.

The founders realised that social media networks would be the main point of focus for reach and communication. On 24 April 2014, the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, Fashion Revolution Day was held, inviting people to take part using the hashtag #insideout

Organisations such as Greenpeace, the London College of Fashion and the Fairtrade Foundation got involved, as did celebrities, fashion designers and bloggers.

Fashion Revolution has an immediate appeal to the millennial generation, so also reached out to that demographic via “haulers” (young shoppers who show off their latest fashion hauls in internet videos).

ITV reaches 40 million people per week through television. The most powerful approach is to use your existing brands and services to get your CSR messages out there, said Sara Hanson, ITV’s head of corporate responsibility.

The company’s sustainability programme is called ITV Responsibility. The company is proud to be a part of popular culture and turns that to its advantage. When a plastic water bottle accidentally appeared in a PR photograph of Edwardian drama series Downton Abbey, ITV responded to all the noise about it by turning it into an opportunity to raise awareness of, and money for, WaterAid. 

The simpler the message, the better, said Hanson.

For one of ITV’s charity campaigns over Christmas, it held the first 24-hour live UK broadcast, hosted by Philip Schofield. It was broadcast on digital channel ITV3 and the aim was to bring the ITV1 audience to it. ITV asked audience members to take “Schofies” (rather than selfies) and send them in – Hanson said this generated a unique Twitter audience of 4.5 million.

There is a need to shift beyond the conventional way of thinking that social media is an extension of the one-way flow of information to an outside audience.

Social media and brand reputation

Herman Betten, communications director at life sciences and material sciences company DSM, talked about using social media effectively to create positive change and enhance brand reputation.

DSM has 21,500 employees in 60 countries. “Sustainability is our core value,” said Betten. Everything we do has to be sustainable. We judge on the three Ps – people, planet and profit. 

DSM aims to motivate its employees, believing that this leads to greater productivity, creativity and sales. With an advertising budget of zero, Betten is focused on establishing dialogues with suppliers,

NGOs and governments to get the DSM name out there. When engaging with the public, the company tries to use “human words”, rather than corporate language, and Betten said that people seem to appreciate that. The company has 75,000 LinkedIn followers,
65,000 on Twitter and 35,000 likes on Facebook.

Measuring your brand value is difficult, but necessary, he said. Betten explained the benefits of social media to the board and produces a report on it every week.

Last year, DSM opened a second-generation biofuel plant in Iowa and invited various dignitaries, including the king of the Netherlands, to the launch. The event was streamed live to some of its key locations around the globe, the internal community of DSM was encouraged to be part of the event and it made a number of national TV networks. Betten estimates that it created more than 250 million online impressions, with 7 million viewers.”


The above is taken from the 2015 Responsible Business Summit post-conference report. The 29-page report highlights some of the key ideas and points shared at the two-day Summit. Access to the whitepaper reports is just one of the new benefits that Subscribers enjoy on a daily basis. Other benefits include; unlimited access to the fully searchable EC player featuring full length video and audio conference sessions, access to the monthly magazine (dating back to 2001), discounts on all EC events and reports plus much more. Visit here to find out more about the benefits of Subscribing to Ethical Corporation.

#rbs15  Communications strategy  social media  DSM  Fashion revolution  ITV 

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