Social media is being used in all possible avenues; from interpersonal communication to brand building. Due to the extensive reach and power of social media it is now being effectively used by brands to leverage their corporate social responsibility efforts.
As more and more organizations become socially conscious, there seems to be a greater need to be unique and novel so that people are proactive in being a part of the efforts. Facebook and Twitter seem to be natural options as both the mediums have great reach and have a greater scope for brands to explore their creativity.
CSR is not just about organizations donating a particular amount to an NGO. The process is about participating actively to uplift a certain section of the community and contributing in more than just monetary ways.
Dell effectively used various social media channels in order to take their CSR efforts to greater heights. Their Direct2Dell blog clearly shows the extent to which the company veers towards serving the society.
On the Facebook front, Dell organized a contest where college students could suggest a business idea that will benefit a social cause. The winning idea would get $50,000 in funding to turn the idea into reality.
Timberland went more specific with its CSR attempts. On their Facebook page they launched an app where fans could start a virtual forest by planting virtual trees. For every tree planted in the app, Timberland would plant a real one in Haiti.
The reason why social media can bring great value to CSR is that the medium can take an idea out of the hands of an organization and let people make it much bigger than it could have ever become with traditional channels. Another reason for the success of the medium is that it has more of a real feel as compared to any other medium. A person would like to help rebuild Haiti, not because Dell says so, but because all his friends are doing it.