Social media offers businesses and non-profit organizations an unprecedented opportunity to build customer communities that can have enormous value in building reputation, loyalty, trust and bottom line profits. However, building and engaging such communities is not always so simple.

It’s not simply a matter of setting up a Twitter account and running wild with promotions and special offers. In fact, blasting out messages on social media platforms without a defined purpose, compelling brand story and clearly articulated vision can be the quickest way to a social business blunder. Your company or organization must provide real value to its community, and this value comes from a genuine commitment to a purpose that is meaningful to their lives.

Building community without an understanding of shared vision is like building a house with no foundation. A thriving, engaged online community only emerges through its connection to an understanding of the world, a specific mission, or shared goals that provide a basis from which the connective fibers of social relationships can grow. A connection to a shared vision binds members of your community to each other and to your business and its products and services.

Here are five great examples of businesses who engaged their communities around a shared purpose and succeeded with authenticity, transparency, accountability.

PampersThrough its “1 Pack = 1 Vaccine” campaign, Pampers supports UNICEF’s Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination Program, a global campaign to protect the lives of mothers and babies in less industrialised countries.

United by Blue ApparelFor every product sold, UBB removes 1 pound of trash from oceans and waterways by hosting cleanups with other partners and retailers across the country.

Teatulia Tea: Teatulia has established revolutionary education, health, and cattle-lending programs for the Bangladeshi people working in their organic tea garden and surrounding areas.

CampbellFrom it’s Stamp Out Hunger program, to its own food donations (Campbell donated more than $32 million worth of product in 2012 alone), Campbell knows how to rally customer communities to fight hunger.

Patagonia: The Common Threads Project actually encourages customers to buy only what they really need, and in return, Patagonia will help repair what breaks and take back worn out products to recycle or give to those in need.

The future of profit is purpose, and the most iconic brands of the future will be those that drive the most meaningful social change. If you’d like hands-on training from some of the best marketers in the world on how to become a purpose-driven, social brand and create passionate customer communities, we hope to see you at our 2013 We First Social Branding Seminar, Sept 24-25 in Los Angeles.

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