The Question for Every Social Brand in 2014: What’s Your ‘Why’?

By now, almost every company has embraced social media. Most brands have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr and beyond. Every brand now feels compelled to use social media, but many need to pause and ask the simple yet strategic question, “Why?

Answering the “why” for social media and your brand goes beyond being purpose-driven in marketing programs. It also identifies the greater purpose of your brand’s focus and value to customers. In a 2009 TED Talk, Simon Sinek famously declared that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Your purpose as a social brand is much greater than the sum of your social activities. It starts with answering the value or beliefs you hold true and grows from living these out in everything you build across your social presences. Only then can it evolve into a mature, impactful program across the business.

We recently undertook a research project at Spredfast to ask more than 200 brands why they use social. Rather than focusing on the “what’s” of their programs, we asked them to share why they are embracing social marketing as a business. The results of the survey highlighted how social is playing a critical role for the world’s biggest, most social brands.


Big Brands and the Social ‘Why’


From our research findings, companies stated they use social media marketing for five goals as it relates to the traditional marketing funnel: customer care and loyalty; reputation management; purchase consideration/interest; conversion and sales; and brand awareness. By far, the most popular reason to use social media was customer care and loyalty, with 33% of companies placing their main ‘social why’ in this category. The second was reputation management at 23%, with brand awareness and consideration/interest tying as the third reasons for being on social at 16%.   

Perhaps most notable is that the majority of brands consider social media a vehicle for nurturing long-term relationships. Twenty percent of respondents actually used the word relationship in describing their ‘social why’.  The other main thematic areas included community, experience, and a 1:1 personalization of communication. This signals a shift in focus from amassing thousands of fans and followers, to now, cultivating those community members into engaged, loyal, long-term customers.  In other words, brands are leveraging social media for its core value of building relationships.  


Spredfast Summit Why Social Word Cloud (1)  


Determining and Following Your Brand’s Social Why

How do you determine your company’s ‘social why’? Maybe you don’t know yet exactly why social media plays an important role for your business. To find out, start by assessing your company’s main mission. What do you believe or aspire to become? How are you impacting the community, your customers or even the world? Your ‘social why’ should be closely aligned with your core values as a business. For example, Whole Foods’ main mission is to satisfy, delight, and nourish customers, while serving and supporting local and global communities. The Whole Foods executive marketing team was clear early on that its social media activities had to map to that overall mission – and that’s why the company’s ‘social why’ falls into the customer care and loyalty segment.

Discover defines its ‘social why’ in this way: “We believe social interaction can extend our brand and enhance loyalty through connecting and engaging with card members.”

CNN defines its ‘social why’ by sharing “We believe that social informs, involves, and empowers our viewers.” Large brands are moving into a new social age – one where success is not defined by the number of followers and fans amassed, nor, necessarily, the number of clicks on paid ads and newsfeed posts. As our research validates, companies are beginning to realize their main ‘social why’ revolves around building long-term relationships. And while this oftentimes has a direct tie to sales and brand lift, those are the ultimate drivers or success metrics of social marketing.

While you have likely already set social budget and are tracking towards your social goals for 2014, step back and ask yourself why your company is doing social in the first place. Then, let your ‘social why’ be the guiding force behind your decisions for social media in 2014 and beyond.

Rod Favaron's picture

Rod Favaron

Rod has served as President and CEO of Spredfast for the past five years, leading overall company operations and long-term strategic direction alike. Under Rod’s direction, the Spredfast team of over 500 employees helps more than 650 of the world’s largest brands connect to the people they care about most.