CSIC Releases New Research on Using Social Media to Tell the Small Business CSR Story

Washington, D.C. (May 24, 2012)—Amid growing pressure on small businesses to both adopt social media tools and to effectively communicate about their community involvement, Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) today launches Small Business, Big Engagement, a comprehensive set of trends and best practices for small businesses looking to use social media to engage stakeholders in their socially responsible business practices.

The white paper is the product of in-depth interviews that were conducted among a diverse group of 12 local, D.C.-based small and medium-sized businesses in late 2011, audits of their communications channels and efforts, and synthesis of existing research on small business social media adoption rates and trends in corporate social responsibility (CSR). The resulting recommendations are meant to strengthen small businesses’ abilities to share their compelling stories of community involvement in a way that meets their unique limitations on resources, staff and time.

“What we noticed in our research is that there’s a real gap in terms of understanding how to integrate social media into the existing CSR storytelling mix—especially when smaller organizations are reluctant to even tell that story to begin with,” said Julie Dixon, Deputy Director of CSIC. “We wanted to provide simple guidelines that will aid small businesses in understanding the value of these tools while shining a spotlight on some of the organizations who are already doing really great work in this area.”

Among the organizations profiled and highlighted for their recent successes are Honest Tea, the Bethesda, Md. beverage company that made news last year when it was acquired by Coca-Cola; Hodgson Consulting, a web technology consultancy located in Washington, D.C., and Virginia Spine Institute, a Northern Virginia-based healthcare organization that specializes in treating spinal disorders.

CSIC’s recommended best practices for small businesses include tips on creating more authentic alignments with community partners and empowering employees to communicate on social media, and a framework for managing the process of creating and sharing CSR content.

The free guide is available for download at http://csic.georgetown.edu/research/293465.html.