By Brenda Jiménez, Paulina Hernández, Karen Marín, and Mariann Villegas.
Key Words: storytelling, corporate social responsibility, identity, customer engagement.
Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe.
But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever. – Indian Proverb
The days where customers used to watch companies passively are long gone. With the aid of social media, consumers have now the power to engage with companies in a new level. Rating products, sharing videos and articles, or expressing opinions about companies have become everyday activities almost everyone has access to. In this new context, it is important for businesses to make their brands stand out.
A way to achieve this is through Corporate social responsibility. CSR refers to corporate activities focused on social improvement, and is now critical in building a company’s reputation. Among these, we find environmental activities, philanthropy, volunteering and ethical labor and production practices. In recent research, it was found that “69% of Americans say a company’s environmental reputation impacts their purchase decisions. Furthermore, 33% can think of a time when they’ve purchased – or not purchased – a product because of the manufacturer’s environmental reputation … and 77% of those people can actually name the brand/product “.
Anyhow, CSR efforts are in vain if we fail to communicate them to our target audience. More often than not, the best way to communicate with customers is through storytelling. This relatively new strategy can be described as the art of writing brand stories, and is most effective when shared through social media. Storytelling is about communicating what obstacles and challenges your company has gone through, in a way that can be interesting and inspiring.
(Of course, the story must be told in the right way)
If done right, storytelling offers many advantages compared to traditional approaches. Some of the potential assets are an increased emotional involvement with the customer and an opportunity to share the brand’s personality; as a result, the company will stay in consumer’s memory for a longer time. Plus, as storytelling mixes reality with fiction, it is more likely to become viral because it doesn’t feel like an ad. Three key storytelling elements that brands must include in their storytelling are:
- The company’s values.
- A language that appeals to emotion.
- Aspects that differentiate your brand from the competition.
Mixing both of them, CSR and storytelling, can result in a whole new way of engaging a conversation with our target customers. In one hand, we are building a strong reputation via CSR . And in the other, we make sure that our actions reach them in a quotidian, casual, and emotional way. That is how we transmit that we care about them.
Nowadays, people want to know how a brand creates value in their lives. In order to transmit this, the brand should not force the approach to the audience: it must know it along with their aspirations and ideals. Moreover, CSR storytelling gives your customers the power to interact with the brand and the possibility to get involved in their social responsibility programs. As a consequence, the company will forge a good reputation and obtain loyal customers.
Here we give you some advice about CSR storytelling:
You may also want to check on these:
- Good CSR Storytelling – Colin Moffett, Weber Shandwick:
In this video, Colin Moffett of Weber Shandwick explain how small businesses can best tell its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3d97T6_rS4
- Breakfast briefing – CSR and storytelling. In this 20 minute webinar, the team at SustainIt will talk through how data enables effective communication and how to talk about data sets to ensure that the core message isn’t lost in the numbers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn7I88W6K4M
- Suzanne Shelton. (2016). Telling your sustainability or CSR story – some great, recent examples. March 14th, 2017, de Shelton Group. Sitio web: http://sheltongrp.com/csr-and-sustainability-storytelling-some-great-recent-examples/
- Sam Caramela. (2016). What is Corporate Social Responsibility?. March 14th, 2017, de Daily Business News Sitio web: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4679-corporate-social-responsibility.html