Why? The Right Question That Builds Brands in Social Media
|Photo courtesy of @EmeraldIslePR|
Yesterday I furnished a keynote presentation at the PR and Social Media Summit. My speech was about the power of asking "Why?," a question that leads to success in both business and social media.
In my five years of research, consulting and managing social media, I have been asked thousands of questions. Where? (Where do I post? Where do I engage?), How? (How do I listen? How do I measure? How do I find influencers?) and today's hot topic, given the need for content to feed the social media beast, What? (What do I say? Do I post pictures, videos, text? Am I funny or serious? Am I professional or casual? Should I offer discounts and contests to lure new fans?)
The fact Apple starts with "why" has also allowed the company to expand their product line; while Window PC brands have tried and largely failed to crack the smartphone, tablet and music player markets, Apple has enjoyed considerable success in these product categories. Such is Apple's success that today it could use just its cash on hand and short-term assets to buy (if it cared to) News Corp, Gannett, the New York Times, Staples, Office Depot, Office Max and CDW--and Apple would still have enough cash left over to purchase a ticket to the top of the Empire State Building for every man, woman and child in the United States. That's the power of "Why?"
"People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
- Discover a High Purpose: This is not merely about cleaning up a local park this week and donating time to a food pantry next week. Having a purpose is a never-wavering "north star" that guides decisions, inspires employees and gives people a reason to care.
- Make it Real: For too many companies, their "purpose" begins and ends with charitable giving and posts made on social media. Today's savvy consumers can easily see the lack of commitment on the part of many companies, which is why it is vital that purpose be made real--if it doesn't change the way the company works, what it does, or how it spends money in the long-term, then the purpose is merely window dressing. You cannot merely say your purpose, you have to be your purpose.
- Live it in Social Media: If you discover a purpose and make it real, social media becomes easy. All the challenges and frustrations brands face today trying to develop a sufficient flow of content for social media evaporates once purpose is made real.
- U by Kotex has committed to changing the way the world thinks about the word “vagina.” Because young women feel a stigma associated with their bodies and their periods, they are afraid to ask questions and are prone to believing myths, many of them unhealthy. The brand makes its purpose real by hiring panels of advocates, health experts, moms and teen peers to candidly answer health questions on its website; the brand also allows young women to order a free bracelet declaring "I know," signifying their knowledge of the facts about their bodies and vaginal health. The brand lives this purpose in social media by giving young women social media "conversation starters" that encourage dialog or bust dangerous myths. As a result of this effort, the brand has received 3 million requests for free product samples and increased market share from 4% to 7.8%.
- Barclaycard Ring gave consumers a reason to care by involving them in every decision about the company's new credit card product. While 65% of product launches from established firms fail, Crowdtap found that 98% of consumers are likely or highly likely to buy a product they helped ideate. Barclaycard makes their mission real by allowing customers to vote on product features such as late fees and engaging in a dialog about why the card does not offer rewards. (Answer: Rewards cost money, and the Barclaycard Ring has an interest rate of just 8%!) The community is even permitted to see the credit card's financial results--if the financial goals are surpassed, the community can decide how that excess is used. This sort of transparency and collaboration earns Barclaycard Ring substantial positive sentiment in social media, and the company estimates it enjoys an annualized benefit of $10 million due to higher customer retention and lower complaints.
- Secret Clinical Strength has discovered its mission: Fighting bullying. The brand makes their commitment real by holding national events and inviting educators, parents and girls join the livestream to learn about the impact of bullying. The brand also makes PowerPoint decks available so that educators can share data and tips in the classroom. Secret also gives girls downloadable "mantras" they can print and hang in their bedrooms and lockers, reminding them to stand up for someone today. In social media, Secret encourages girls to post pictures of their pinky painted blue, a sign they are committed to #GangUpForGood. The brand has earned more than a million appearances in fans' Facebook news feeds, and the clinical family of SKUs, the products associated with Mean Stinks, grew 20% year over year.
- Chipotle has committed itself to increasing the integrity of the food we eat. The brand makes it real by posting how the company's restaurants source ingredients--local, organic, pasture-based dairy or responsibly-raised meat. But the way the brand really makes their mission real is by publicly admitting where it falls short of its own ideals; under the heading "always room for improvement," the brand conveys which ingredients are genetically modified or contain preservatives or hydrogenated oils. (How many of your companies are willing to publicize the ways it falls short and is still striving to achieve its mission?) In social media, Chipotle has engaged millions with evocative online videos such as the award-winning "Back to the Start" and recent social campaign, "The Scarecrow." The outcome of these efforts is that Chipotle enjoys some of the highest same-store growth in the restaurant business while competitor Qdoba is shuttering many of its corporate-owned outlets.
- USAA, has a mission that has been its obsession since the company was founded in 1922: The company serves those who serve in the United States military. Its mission is so real to USAA that employees can recite it, word for word. One of the ways USAA makes this mission real is by providing a week-long New Employee Orientation to every new hire. One of the exercises during NEO is to put yourself in the shoes of someone receiving deployment orders: In two weeks you will be shipping out to a dangerous corner of the world, so how can you help your family prepare not just for your absence but for the possibility you will not return? USAA also brings its mission to social media, where it strives to answer every question, criticism and compliment within two business hours. The result of this effort is apparent: USAA earns the most trust from its customers across 246 companies in 19 industries according to the Temkin Trust Ratings, and USAA Bank's Net Promoter Score of 83% is the highest score among more than 200 brands across 22 sectors.
As always, your feedback is very welcome!
My background includes more than 20 years of experience in digital and social media, including time covering social media for Forrester, managing a large and diverse team in a digital agency and leading social business at Fortune 500 financial services firms. I am focused on how social media is changing not just the way we market and commnuicate but the way social and digital behaviors impact ...
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