You’re crafting editorial calendars, you’re thinking about your brand, you’re plotting out your hashtags, yet somewhere along the way things get messy. Maybe you don’t have enough resources to create individual content for every channel, so you are sending the same content to each of them. Maybe someone from leadership comes to you with a social idea and you think, “What’s the harm in posting?” All of the sudden, your social is off-message and, more importantly, no one cares about your content! But at least you’re still posting regularly, right? Wrong! You need more than just a steady cadence and your company’s best content to use social media effectively. You need purpose.
The Word is Purpose
The secret to crafting a successful social media strategy that produces results is as simple as one single word: Purpose. Everything that you do on social media needs to be done for a purpose. Not just any purpose, the purpose, your purpose. Before you even begin to think about content, it is imperative that you craft a purpose statement, as this statement will be the foundation for all other aspects of your strategy.
Choosing your purpose requires a consideration of not just your brand, but your followers too. When someone follows your brand on any platform, they are awarding you the privilege of showing up in their feed because they assume that they will get something out of it. The unfortunate downside to social media is that it is overflowing with information, which makes your place in that follower’s feed just one tiny spot amidst the huge, saturated pool of content that their brain processes each day. For this reason, it is critical that your purpose statement satisfies the needs of your followers as well as achieving your brand’s strategic objectives.
L.L. Bean is an example of a brand that has a clearly defined social media purpose which serves their followers and their business. Knowing that they’re an outdoor clothing and equipment company, it is reasonable for them to assume that their followers are interested in outdoor activities. Thus, their posts feature things like information about camping, hiking trail suggestions, and scenic photos from outdoor adventures.
Finding Your Purpose (And Why It May Surprise You!)
Although your purpose can certainly be tied directly to your business, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Some brands find that having an overarching cause or subject as their purpose — one without any specific or obvious ties to their business — is an extremely effective social media tactic that enables them to stand for something more than just their product. Take Dove, for example. Sure, Dove is a soap brand, but their social content rarely has to do with soap. Instead, they post about things like women’s empowerment, social equality, and body positivity. By doing so, Dove has aligned their brand with something bigger and more meaningful than soap, and they have 28 million followers to show for it. Sure, the leap from soap to body positivity may not be obvious, but really think about it and you will realize how diving deep into what Dove’s audience cares about helped them craft a salient, authentic purpose that resonates with consumers.
Using social media to align your business with external causes or subjects is a great way to create a brand image that is separate from just the products you sell. By taking the focus away from material goods, you are allowing consumers to connect with your company on a deeper level, fostering a substantial relationship that is mutually beneficial for both parties. This is important because customers do not want to feel like you are only interested in profiting off their purchases, but that you are fully invested in them. According to a survey that we did on brand and social media, the most common reason people followed a brand on social media was for helpful information related to one of their hobbies. When a social media strategy is strong and purposeful, it grows your business by building durable relationships with customers. These relationships are essential when it comes to maximizing customer lifetime value, something that is all-important in today’s customer-centric marketplace.
Deciding What Not to Post
Not only is having a purpose statement essential when it comes to devising your social media strategy, it is also a helpful tool for staying on brand and consistent once you’ve established a plan and have begun posting content. If a member of your team would like to post something but they are unsure whether or not it is consistent with the rest of your content, your purpose statement can act as the standard against which you weigh the potential post. Content that works toward achieving your purpose statement can and should be posted, whereas content that fails to do so should remain in your drafts. This goes for entire channels as well. If you cannot connect the use of a particular social media channel to your purpose statement, then you probably don’t need an account on that channel.
Know Your Channels
Each social media channel has a unique function based on how and why people use it. When a person follows a brand on a particular channel, they are anticipating that the brand will contribute to their feed in a way that is consistent with the function of that channel. In order to come up with the right content for each platform, you must figure out what information you have within your own company that fits your followers’ use of that platform.
Our work with Liberty Mutual Insurance on their LinkedIn is a great illustration of how a channel’s function can guide content creation. Knowing that they wanted to position themselves as an industry thought leader and go-to resource for risk managers, and understanding the informational, career-focused nature of LinkedIn, Liberty Mutual used the channel to provide risk managers with information that would help them improve their work and stay up to date with the latest industry trends and news via frequent thought leadership blog articles.
Social Media in a Digitized World
With limitless amounts of information constantly at the disposal of consumers, businesses in all industries face stiffer competition than ever before, making that ability to stand out in a crowd evermore important. As of 2020, people spent a worldwide average of 145 minutes on social media a day, engaging with posts and accounts across various platforms. But if the growing number of worldwide users tells us anything, it’s that it is no longer enough just to appear in someone’s feed, you must give your followers what they want—not just once, but over and over again. Our research speaks to this point, as we found that 54% of consumers will unfollow a brand if they feel the content isn’t relevant to them, 38% will unfollow if they do not agree with a company’s values, and 34% will unfollow if they find the content boring.
Heading further into 2021 with the pandemic still looming and our lives remaining online, there is no doubt that technology will continue to dominate. In order to succeed in this new digital landscape with highly connected consumers that expect content of the utmost relevance, it will be critical for companies to focus on posting with purpose and providing value to consumers.