Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Social Media & Sustainability: Digital Environmental Practices Advance Via Social Media

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Social media is one example of S2.0 – digital business practices transforming environmental sustainability. Empirical trends suggest that employee engagement will be key to corporate sustainability efforts in 2012, and social media will be a key enabler. What do we know about S2.0 practices and impacts?

According to a recent article in

a growing body of research identifies [sustainability oriented] employee engagement programs that do work — and many have social media at their core.

The article goes on to detail results from a new survey of leading companies concerning both S2.0 practices and impacts:

Sustainable Brands Insights recently released a survey that showed 50 companies were already using social media in their sustainability efforts.

Seventy-six percent of sustainability professionals believe investment in sustainability-themed social media will help gain market share or increase the size of the overall market.

More importantly, those using social media saw a 10 to 15 percent increase in recognition of their sustainability efforts and, crucially, increased compliance.

On the S2.0 practices side, a recent survey of FTSE G500 firms reveals a “90-10”: while more than half use social media for sustainability, only 10% use it extensively.

On “leading the conversation” as an S2.0 practice :

No communication program today would be complete without considering how to reach target audiences through ever-proliferating social media channels. This is even truer for brands with a sustainability story to tell.

Consumers, the media and other stakeholders are already debating a company’s every environmental and social action and inaction on Twitter and Facebook. It’s time for brands to take part in, and ideally lead, the conversation – particularly those brands with a strong record to stand behind.

Finally, in my research collaboration with Michael Hopps, we demonstrate that social media analytics (including semantic analysis) can provide useful insights into effective use of social media for environmental sustainability (top keywords driving buzz, opinions, etc.).


Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

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