This paper aims to posit the central argument that traditional media of old presented a clear, ordered world of communication management for organisations to extol their corporate social responsibility (CSR) credentials. In contrast to this, new Web 2.0 social media is increasingly being used by activists and hactivists to challenge corporate communication CSR messages and does so by highlighting instances and examples of corporate social irresponsibility (CSI) (Jones et al., 2009; Tench et al., 2012).
The paper reports on research data from the European Communication Monitor, 2010, 2011 and 2012 (www.communicationmonitor.eu/) and draws on work already published in this area (Tench et al., 2009; Verhoeven et al., 2012; Zerfass et al., 2010, 2011) to illustrate the unruly, unregulated Web 2.0 social media communication landscape in Europe. A range of literature is drawn on to provide the theoretical context for an exploration of issues that surround social media.
In late modernity (Giddens, 1990), communication comes in many guises. Social media is one guise and it has re-shaped as well as transformed the nature of communications and the relationship between organisations and their stakeholders.
Communicating CSR in the Wild West of social media requires diplomatic and political nous, as well as awareness and knowledge of the dangers and pitfalls of CSI. The data reported on in this paper well illustrate the above points and set out scenarios for future development of corporate communication of CSR through and with social media.
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