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Sustainability and social media: Made for each other

I have to give credit to Matthew Yeomans, founder of Sustainly, a sustainability communications research firm based in the U.K., for so clearly putting into words what I have felt strongly about over the past five or six years – sustainability and social media are made for each other. Sustainly is the provider of the annual Social Media Sustainability Index, which is now in its fifth year.

Here’s why sustainability and social media are such a good fit, according to Yeomans’ presentation at the Sustainable Brands conference last month in San Diego: Each is a “fundamental business philosophy,” not a tactic or strategy. He made a strong case that both social media and sustainability are underpinned by the same qualities:

  • Authenticity
  • Transparency
  • Community
  • Creativity

Yeomans said companies and their brands must overcome two common mistakes when communicating about sustainability via social media:

  • “They want to talk but forget to listen.”
  • “Companies don’t trust their community.”

In my view, even if brands are not very active on social media overall, sustainability is one area that cries out for some social media effort. It provides opportunities to discuss activities and commitments across multiple channels, including YouTube videos and Instagram photos of employees being active in the community, engagement with the large sustainability community on Twitter, corporate and guest blogs on sustainability topics that we can all learn from, sustainability apps, and so on. There are many people within a company, and groups interested in the company, who would welcome the sustainability engagement via social media.

When social media and sustainability work together, sustainability becomes interesting and accessible. This blog post itself should serve as an example of the natural connection between the two disciplines. I encourage you to share it via social media and also provide your feedback and thoughts to me. And, finally, I hope you’ll follow Matt Yeomans and me on Twitter. 

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