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Check out the hashtags #socialgood and #smwsapient for more insight into the conversation surrounding this event. For the event description, click here and to watch the entire panel via Live Stream, click here.
The final day of Social Media Week NYC 2011 included a panel from New York City sponsor SapientNitro, and was one of three incredible panels that they graciously curated over the course of the week. I had an opportunity to attend the first two of their fantastic sessions and their last panel was no different. The panel entitled “Social Good for All” proved to be an excellent source of information, knowledge and expertise. The panel began with some pretty shocking quotes about consumers, companies and social good. Below are a two data points that were particularly striking:
- “90% of consumers want companies to tell them the ways they are supporting causes”
- “Nearly 50% of consumers will seek out similar products from a different brand if they hear that a company’s corporate behavior is especially bad”
The panel was moderated by Cindy Gallop, Founder & CEO of If We Ran the World.com and goes to show that finding the right moderator for your panel is the key. With an introduction by Janice Chow, the panel began with a short video on “Brands Doing Social Good” which consisted of consumer interviews and covered their thoughts and feelings on social good.
The findings were very split, while many interviewees indicitated that where they shop depends largely on the level of philanthrophy exhibited by a company, many others said it played less of a factor. Others simply said that they were skeptical and believed that companies were just trying to show off and often showed no follow through. The panel leveraged the footage to debate whether or not companies are actually willing to make doing good part of their brand’s DNA.
Cindy was a riot throughout the panel and opened up with the disclaimer that she believes in a panel that is controversial, lively and sparks debate. She then transitioned with a few provocative words about sex to explain that she wants to make doing good “sexy “, a philosophy exhibited through her website makelovenotporn.com. Below, I will attempt to give a broad overview of the topics and points made in the panel, but I highly suggest watching the entire recap on Livestream.
- Shiv Singh, Head of Digital, PepsiCo Beverages, America
- Alnoor Ladha, Head of Strategy, Purpose
- Paull Young, Director of Digital Engagement, Charity Water
- Max Schorr, Co-Founder, GOOD Magazine
- Christopher Bishop, Senior Communications, IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs
Cindy asked the panelists to provide their thoughts on the title of the session, Social Good, and the overall consensus was that it did not fully illustrate what the discussion was about. That somehow it implies that there is a lot of social bad out there. Many agreed that we should be moving away from the need for a panel about social good altogether and that doing good should no longer be looked at as dorky or a chore. Rather, doing good should become standard procedure and it shouldn’t matter where or why someone is doing it, but that they are simply doing something.
The words “good intentions” were being thrown around quite a bit in the context of companies doing great things, but the consensus was that even those companies still having a long way to go. The panelists discussed the barriers that make it extremely hard, barriers not faced by non-profits, like shareholders, employees and profit; a corporate entity will always be driven by the need to make money.
The panel leveraged the dynamic of donations via text message after the earthquakes in Haiti as an example. While it was a great idea in theory, mobile phone companies remained in the middle and thus prevented consumers and non-profits from really connecting.
The panelists then discussed the importance of demanding that businesses incorporate social good into their overall business strategies to create something more sustainable and that the process to executed in a way that was transparent.The discussion was lively, helped by the fact that panelists included representatives from all sides of the spectrum, Pepsi and IBM, but also, Charity Water, Purpose and GOOD.
The panel then delved into how society overall might adapt to embrace social good in its varying forms noting the cultural and behavioral barriers, impacted by business and government, that make a more holistic transition difficult to achieve. We still drive cars, use oil and eat processed foods in part because there aren’t electric charge stations and organic fruit stands available on every corner.
The panel concluded by acknowledging that there’s been a huge shift in perception of a variety of activities that were at one point considered to be nerdy. What’s left to be seen is if we can arrive at a point where doing good is sexy, and taking action is cool.