Active Consumers Seek Corporate Responsibility in the Age of Social Media!

Age of Web 2.0! Age of consumer empowerment!
Age of responsibility?

Consumers are active and participative today. Consumer empowerment for businesses/corporations means no more regarding consumers as passive. They consider actions of businesses/corporations before buying into products. Consumers are looking for responsibility in their product and service providers. What exactly is responsibility for a company?

Business dictionary defines corporate responsibility as:

“A company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship (1) through their waste and pollution reduction processes, (2) by contributing educational and social programs, and (3) by earning adequate returns on the employed resources.”

If you want a lengthier explanation visit: Reference for business.

Smart companies/businesses target and interact with their consumers. The internet and social media has encouraged the new age consumer who wants to find out more about businesses. Consider coffee: Dark, rich, aromatic coffee that brightens your tired self in the morning. AND afternoon. Maybe evening too. You buy coffee based on taste and advertising, right? The passive consumer does. They go with what they know from what little information they have. What does the engaged consumer do? They research brands online, find out the company’s reputation and what they stand for. Corporate responsibility are two words that may not immediately jump to the average consumers’ mind. Two words stand out for the engaged, vocal consumer: Fair Trade. These two words hold a fair amount of power. It means that the farmers who grew the coffee beans received a fair (regulated) price for those beans.

Thus that farmer doesn’t have to live a poverty-stricken life selling beans well below value because they don’t have a choice.

Businesses who buy their beans through fair-trade can bear the fair trade logo. Since fair trade is regulated, you won’t find businesses claiming to be fair trade that aren’t. The only disadvantage to fair trade coffee is the price to consumers. Fair trade coffee costs more for the consumer to purchase. Without the fair trade logo one might assume it is overpriced coffee but not know why it is. A fair trade logo connected with a business says “we’re a responsible, morally considerate company that appreciates quality.” It also leaves the consumer feeling good about their purchase. Purchasing+ feeling good are a great match. Businesses want their consumers to feel good about making purchase because those consumers are more likely to continue purchasing their product.

My fair trade coffee example highlights how a passive consumer might not have known about fair trade quality or understand its importance. The passive consumer just listens to what the business says and doesn’t really ask questions. A one-way conversation. Ignorance is bliss to the passive consumer.

How is this applicable to social media?

Internet and social media removed the rose coloured glasses from our eyes. They give information that once wasn’t readily available now available to the masses! You can Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, and Reddit (to list a few!) a business to find out what it stands for; find out what other people think about it.

Coffee wise: Companies/businesses who have facebook pages, twitter accounts and webpages can mention their fair trade association and their corporate social responsibility.

Perfect example: Starbucks! They are very quick to brand themselves as a responsible business. “We’ve always believed that businesses can – and should – have a positive impact on the communities they serve.”

Starbucks proudly shares its corporate social responsibility with its consumers throughout social media. For example: You can like Starbucks and Starbucks frappuccino on facebook, roughly 20 different twitter accounts and follow them on LinkedIn. Engaged consumers who are already plugged into various social media they will visit webpages and social media links of various businesses. Consumers want to know the truth and want to feel good about their purchase. Starbucks must know this and use it to further their brand quality. Essentially you can find Starbucks everywhere on social media. You can find them sharing and connecting with their consumers online and off! Thanks to social media!

As a social media specialist and a consumer, I recognize the importance of ethical business practices, corporate responsibility and usage of social media. Social media connects businesses with their consumers. Consumers can share their thoughts with businesses and other consumers. Starting a conversation between businesses and consumers as well as consumers with consumers via social media benefits all. It keeps businesses in the spotlight,responsible to its consumers, and in return it gains loyalty. Thus consumers get to feel good about their purchases and businesses receive purchaser loyalty/longevity.

Thoughts? Share them with me!  😀


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Active Consumers Seek Corporate Responsibility in the Age of … | Midia Social
  2. Cironstone
    May 03, 2011 @ 18:59:37

    Thanks Midia social! Cheers!


  3. Beth
    May 03, 2011 @ 23:20:59

    I’ve noticed that too! Your writing is great.


  4. Cironstone
    May 04, 2011 @ 00:16:48

    Thanks Beth!


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