Communicating CSR and Brand Personality through Social Media

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Virginia Tech

In the competitive atmosphere of today's business world, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become yet another factor organizations use to distinguish themselves and make their values apparent to their audiences. Social media have helped organizations communicate these characteristics with their audiences by enabling timely and cost-effective communication between individuals and organizations. While many studies have explored the role of social media in communicating CSR messages, few studies have focused on the social transformational cues that visual elements of these tools offer organizations in terms of communicating their socially responsible activity. Through a content analysis of social media posts by both the Reputation Institute's 20 most responsible companies and the institute's top 20 Fortune 500 companies, this study explored the ways in which organizations communicate their CSR activities over a three-month period. The analysis examined companies' CSR initiatives through their text and image posts on Instagram and Twitter, as well as how socially responsible companies express brand personality using these social media sites. Furthermore, this study compared organizations' use of image, text, and text-only based social media posts, as well as their use of image-power strategies. This study also contributed to existing work on CSR in social media by examining trends in the social media strategies of the most responsible and highest earning organizations in terms of how they communicate cues related to CSR.

Corporate social responsibility, brand personality, brand identity, social media