Corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication via social media sites: evidence from the German banking industry

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Purpose – This study aims to explore how banks practice corporate social responsibility (CSR) communication on two popular social media sites (SMSs), Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, this study examines CSR communication strategies on SMSs, including the levels of communication direction and communication balance.
Design/methodology/approach – Data were extracted from Facebook and Twitter over a five-year period (2015–2019), and content analysis was performed. The research setting was the German banking industry. Findings – The results indicate that the number of banks using SMSs to communicate CSR-information increased over time. Although the majority of banks’ messages were not related to CSR, the most-referenced (least-referenced) CSR-theme was “society” (“human rights”). On Facebook, banks employed an interacting CSR communication strategy more often than an informing one when communicating CSR activities; on Twitter banks used a balanced mix of communication strategies. In terms of stakeholder engagement, social media users interacted with banks more frequently on Facebook than on Twitter, and banks made efforts to engage in two-way symmetrical communication.
Research limitations/implications – Although the sample comprised the most relevant banks in Germany, it was limited to a single national context. Thus, the results may not be generalizable.
Originality/value – This study makes a significant contribution to the limited literature on banks’ CSR communication via SMSs, provides new empirical evidence on the use of CSR communication strategies and extends prior research on the direction and balance of communication. Recommendations are provided for banking communication practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCorporate Communications: An International Journal
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)636-654
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 23.06.2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author would like to thank Martina Topic (Editor) and two anonymous referees for their valuable comments and suggetions. Financial support from the F?rderverein Bank- und Finanzwirtschaft e.V. (FVBF) is greatly acknowledged. The author retains sole responsibility for all remaining errors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.

    Research areas

  • Management studies - Banks, CSR communication, Germany, Social media, Stakeholder