As we enter the new year, many social media managers are looking for ways to refine and update their processes to stay on top of the latest trends and tools and make the most of their online marketing efforts.
Let’s start at the beginning: what do you want to convey with your brand’s social media presence, and how are you working towards that mission with each post?
Establishing a defined goal is critical to an effective strategy. This technique can help you determine your brand purpose and guide your future strategic approach to your products and services.
Defining Your Brand ‘Why’
It is essential to understand why your brand exists, what purpose it aims to boost, and how it positively improves your customers’ lives.
When you know this, you can build your content strategy around that core goal, which in turn ensures that everything you post has a purpose and that you’re not randomly posting quotes in the hopes of getting engagement. Of course, that might also work, but building a deliberate, focused strategy would ensure that every update will become another brick in the foundation of your brand. It will also enable you to continue to connect with like-minded people who are your target customers that will become your loyal audience.
That is, of course, if you can get it right.
Here’s one technique for breaking down your brand purpose and building a strategy around a focused goal:
In 1996, James Collins and Jeremy Porras, researchers from Harvard University, authored a series of papers on building your company’s vision based on various interviews with marketing leaders and their experiences working with major brands, including Nike and Disney. They aimed to establish a core framework for branding to dig deeper into purpose and the role each business plays in consumers’ lives.
This is what they found:
“Companies with lasting success have core values and a core purpose that remains set while their business strategies and practices would continually adapt to a changing world.”
Therefore they see that while trends might change, the brands that survived through the years and established a solid connection with their audience have a defined focus.
Here are some examples of the core purpose statements of some of the world’s most prominent brands (taken from Collins and Porras’ ‘Building Your Company’s Vision’ report):
Nike – To experience the sentiment of competition, to win, and overpower competitors
Wal-Mart – To give everyday people a chance to buy the same things as the wealthy
Walt Disney – To make people happy
It’s not always obvious; for example, Nike’s tagline is the classic “Just Do It,” but these statements result from ‘the why’ each business exists.
From these examples, knowing each of their focal goals, you can start to identify them in all of their marketing and outreach when you come across them.
How can you establish the same type of singular purpose statement for your brand?
One way is doing what Collins and Porras called ‘The Five Whys’.
Start with a statement your first statement: We make X or we provide X service. Then ask, ‘Why is that important?’ and you provide an answer to this question. Then, respond to that answer by again asking why that is important. This way, you can dig a little deeper and find the brand’s focus.
For example, a brand that sells perfume might follow a sequence like this:
We sell perfumes.
‘Why is that important?’ (1)
Because we enable people to smell good.
‘Why is that important?’ (2)
Because smelling good will boost their confidence.
‘Why is that important?’ (3)
Because confidence helps people to be ready for life’s experiences.
‘Why is that important?’ (4)
Because it builds grit.
When you’ve reached your focus, it will become the guiding principle for everything you share and communicate, aligning all of your outreach with this focus.
It’s not about the products you sell. Instead, it’s about why your business exists, which can play a significant role in defining your approach and keeping everyone on the same page.
This is another important consideration – not only does this help to build your brand externally, but internally.
CEO of Influence & Co John Hall said:
“When people have a clear understanding of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, they’re more likely to take emotional ownership of the work.”
Defining your brand’s true purpose and mission statement may take some discussion and debate. But ideally, through processes like this, you can move closer to establishing a clear goal that you’re striving for, which can guide your social media marketing process at each step.
Again, this brand purpose and mission statement will eventually help guide every post, every update, every Reel, every TikTok, every tweet – all of your social updates.
This is how you build your brand identity online.