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Microsoft: “Social Media Needs to be Spread Like Peanut Butter”

Nick Aster, Justin Higgs, Tom Murphy and Courtland Smith

ANN ARBOR, MI — Day two continues with a breakout session that hits rather close to home — Transparency 2.0: The Impact of Social Media on CSR.

Triple Pundit Founder and Publisher Nick Aster is moderating the panel that also includes the following:

Justin Higgs, Public Affairs, Chevron
Courtland Smith, AngelPoints
Tom Murphy, Director, Corporate Citizenship Communications, Microsoft

Nick Aster opened the session asking the question of whether or not social media is pushing firms to become more transparent with respect to their CSR strategies.

Microsoft’s Tom Murphy made the memorable comment on how the company uses social media in both media relations and marketing: “Social media needs to be spread like peanut butter.” Microsoft as you would expect monitors Twitter closely and uses it to provide customer services for such products as Xbox. And the firm is looking to improve the dynamism of its reporting.

Justin Higgs of Chevron spoke about how the company has been using social media to defend itself against the landmark class action case it is still waging with Ecuador. According to Higgs, social media outlets such as bloggers are often better platforms for oil and gas companies because they may be more willing to dig more deeply into the story. Certainly given the decline of international reporting budgets at traditional media outlets, this may indeed be true.

Overall, this panel has been a bit disappointing, as it hasn’t necessarilly dealt directly with the topic of social media’s impact on CSR. An interesting consensus point us that as fewer people actually read PDF (or perish the thought, hardcopy) CSR reports, social media channels like Twitter and Facebook allow companies more diverse engagement platforms to tell their CSR tales.

So, while we’ve had a discussion about how social media opens engagement opportunities for the dissimenation of CSR information, we have little sense on how social media is affecting CSR content.

Written by Lane Jost

A lifelong conservationist, angler, gardener and writer, Lane is a Corporate Responsibility strategy consultant based in Chicago, where he currently works a CR consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Prior to joining PwC, Lane was a global sustainability performance and stakeholder engagement specialist for Sodexo North America. He has experience in microfinance program evaluation at Grameen Foundation. A former President of the Net Impact Chapter at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Lane has a master's in International Development Economics from the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UCSD (IR/PS) and a bachelor's in history and international studies from Kenyon College. Prior to working in the sustainable business sphere, Lane spent six years as a communications and marketing professional focusing on arts and culture in New York City, where his work included the creation of the jazz website gothamjazz.com and serving as the publicist for the New York Philharmonic.

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