This analysis is provided by Elisa Neimtzow of the Sequoia Lab Team. Sequoia Lab partners with both new ventures and established organizations to create profitable, innovative, and sustainable business strategies.
Now more than ever consumers are purchasing with a purpose. In the fourth annual Edelman goodpurpose® Study, experts indicate that what consumers want goes beyond just form and function to include a positive community impact.
As a business leader, are you doing the best job possible to develop sales if you focus on innovation, design, and brand loyalty? Not really. According to the study, nearly half (47%) of respondents said that social purpose ranks higher than brand loyalty and design and innovation as a purchase motivator. In addition, another recent PRWeek/Barkley Cause Survey suggests that a full 88 percent of American men say it’s crucial for a brand to support a social cause.
When business leaders think about how to engage their customers and communities around social causes, social media presents an ideal vehicle. Social media channels offer powerful opportunities for organizations to bring these purpose branding and marketing strategies to life. Exposure through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, etc. engages existing and potential customers, increases transparency, and solicits feedback. Yet with this relatively new frontier of branding and marketing opportunities comes many questions.
CEO’s are asking themselves: What are the leading companies doing? What should you keep in mind as you launch your next (or first) social media campaign? How do you make it effective, relevant, and consistent with organizational objectives?
Ultimately, the recipe for success centers on creating compelling content, building “living” campaigns and acting with creativity. Industry innovators like GE, Pepsico and Intel recognize that people want to buy from responsible companies and engage with purpose-driven brands. To achieve success, they go beyond simply communicating the social causes they support through a blog or a Facebook page. Their messaging resonates authenticity, directly connects to their brand and business, and incites action in their customer base.
When Anvil Knitwear, for example, convinced Disney to use its organic cotton knitwear line for all of its branded t-shirts, it turned to social media to communicate the significance of these efforts. Anvil operates a website called Track My T which allows younger customers to see the evolution of their tshirts from farm to retailer. They also have posted this video on YouTube which educates consumers about the negative impact of pesticides on farmers and the environment, further reinforcing their leadership position in organic and sustainable apparel.
Secondly, successful organizations treat social media as a living campaign, as opposed to traditional marketing where companies simply dispense ideas and hope for the best. Social media’s immediate connection with customers humanizes brands and provides a platform for engagement. To achieve a sustained community and build long-term relationships, companies listen to, track and solicit feedback carefully and towards a purpose. The GE Ecomagination project shows this best practice in action. The initiative calls for stakeholders to submit their ideas, inventions and strategies around clean energy. The winning proposals receive up to $200 million in funding, business strategy evaluation with GE technical teams, and opportunities to leverage GE’s extensive network of customer relationships.
Finally, social media offers many opportunities to interact that rely on creative thinking and not necessarily on a large advertising budget. One recent campaign organized by Keep a Child Alive, musician Alicia’s Keys’ foundation, featured celebrity social media “deaths” whereby celebrities stopped tweeting until fans donated $1 million to support AIDS-related causes in Africa and India. The campaign raised the money in less than a week and helped generate awareness through a creative and unique social media undertaking. Though not every organization is backed by the star power of a Grammy winner, every company has the potential to come up with inspired ideas and engage their customers to help those ideas take flight.
As a leader, how do you approach these issues? Are you sure that your social media strategy is really innovative, driving not only brand awareness but also sales and customer retention? By creating compelling content, building living campaigns and acting creatively, companies can leverage both their social media and social purpose strategies, enabling them to build meaningful relationships with their customers. It is these relationships, built on the power of social media, which ultimately drive sales and facilitate sustained success for a brand.