New Study Finds Social Media Best Practices for Sustainability Storytelling

Corporate storytelling has emerged as a powerful strategy to engage and inspire audiences on topics ranging from launching new products, to support recruitment, and notably to discuss sustainability initiatives, programs and progress. Alongside the rise of sustainability storytelling, social media has become a valued tool to bring corporate initiatives to life in the digital age. 

Recently, consulting firm Sustainly released its fourth annual Social Media Sustainability Index, which names the top 100 companies that use social media to effectively enhance their sustainability programs and initiatives. To create the list, Sustainly looked at how 475 companies from all over the world communicate their sustainability strategy using social media channels. 

As the study notes, what began as just a dribble of progressive, disruptive companies using channels such as Facebook and Twitter to discuss sustainability initiatives has become a downpour in the past few years. From sustainability reports, infographics, online webinars, and thought-leadership articles, companies are increasingly turning to the Internet as the canvas upon which to paint their sustainability story. Of the 475 companies studied, nearly half have dedicated social media channels that broadcast their sustainability and CSR initiatives. Key findings include: 

  • Most popular channels: Of the top 100, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are the most preferred channels at 86%, 75% and 71%, respectively. 
  • Best channels for storytelling: The report suggests that companies are turning to the newer platforms of Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr to support their storytelling
  • Best channel for thought leadership: LinkedIn, while not widely used (12%), is the platform of choice to promote thought leadership in the form of opinion pieces and knowledge sharing. 

Sustainly named the Spanish bank BBVA the number one company using social media in large part because, as the report states, “BBVA has a strong understanding of its social media community and it creates projects, campaigns and services to meet the needs of their community.” Notable initiatives by the bank include launching a crowdsourcing platform, named Suma, which helps users raise money for notable charities and causes, such as relief efforts. It also facilitates an online sustainability community and debate through two distinct platforms, its Open Mind platform, which publishes op-eds and blogs by third-party experts and a LinkedIn group that looks at the intersection of sustainability and innovation. 

What do you think? Would you rank BBVA number one? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @Brigid_Milligan

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