eBay: Rebuilding a Brand By Creating Economic Opportunity, Greener Commerce & Power Giving

By Dana Byerlee | Small Business

eBay: Rebuilding a Brand By Creating Economic Opportunity, Greener Commerce & Power Giving image SIreportcoverEditedebay Social Innovation

I had no idea PaylPal processed $3.6B for charities last year, or that there are 850,000 live charitable listings on eBay on any given day. Like me, the majority of consumers may not realize what a purpose-driven company eBay Inc is, but that’s about to change. Last week, eBay Inc. announced its new Social Innovation strategy which includes its first ever set of three-year social impact goals. This marks a critical brand milestone as eBay officially brings to life its important story about the company’s mission, values, and global social impact work.

eBay Inc. views its set of goals under three categories: Creating Economic Opportunity, Enabling Greener Commerce and Powering Giving. For example, by 2015, the company says it will:

Help more than 10,000 low-income entrepreneurs achieve increased financial returns. Nearly one half of the world’s population lives on less than $2/day, and helping them increase their income is a critical step in lifting individuals and communities out of poverty.

Expand access to goods and services for more than 5 million people living in poverty. Most of the 3+ billion people who make up the world’s poor not only lack access to markets and financial services, they also pay higher prices for goods and services.

Scale 10 social innovations that catalyze economic development. To meet the most pressing social challenges, it’s critical to help organizations accelerate their impact.

Double the number of customers that take action on behalf of a charity through the company’s giving programs and platforms.

Double the total value of funds generated for charitable organizations and double the number of charities that benefit eBay’s giving programs and platforms.

Source at least 8 percent of eBay Inc.’s energy use from cleaner sources and realize 10 percent growth in number of users that engage with its “greener commerce” programs.

Purpose has been long baked in to the core of eBay’s identity. Over twenty years ago, its founder and now well-known philanthropist, Pierre Omidyar, envisioned that technology-enabled and people-centered commerce could be a positive force for social change. What’s interesting is that there are many companies like eBay Inc., with rich legacies of social innovation that haven’t taken the time to tell the outside world about their efforts.

Sharing stories about the purposeful work and values of your company is now a critical business imperative, and one that the market is hungry for:

New consumer expectations: 87% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interests, and 80% of think it is important for companies to make them aware of their efforts to address societal issues (2012 Edelman Good Purpose study).

To scale your impact you must share your story Storytelling is the key to bringing together the right partners, advocates, and passionate participants to amplify your mission, values and good work.

The democratization of technology means your reputation is your competitive advantage In a time where everyone has access to the same marketing and social technologies, and new open source tech and startups pose a daily threat to industry incumbents, your company’s values and social-purpose story will be your only lasting differentiator. In fact, given similar price and quality, 91% of global consumers would switch brands if a different brand supported good cause (2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study).

In a noisy, crowded and parity technology marketplace, the good a company does is increasingly becoming its defining competitive advantage. Social technologies are merely amplifying the importance of the timeless arts of reputation management and word of mouth advertising. This strategy of putting your shoulder behind social good is as important to start-ups seeking to scale, as it is to big brands seeking to resonate, and it’s fantastic to see eBay taking such great strides that will propel the company forward.

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