You know that social media is no longer an option, and if you want your business to be successful, you must cultivate an online presence. But are you including the right components in your social media strategy?
These days, the best social media strategies seek to connect with customers on a deeper level. Many digital marketing plans focus on selling, but if you’re not spending time incorporating your brand values, you could be losing out big time with your target audience. Brand values greatly impact consumer buying behaviour and shape your brand image as a whole.
But, before you wax poetic about environmentalism or another social issue in your next Instagram caption, know that there is a right way and a wrong way to include your values in your social media strategy. Today’s consumers are savvy and will see through disingenuous attempts at corporate social responsibility.
The first step to including your values in your social media strategy is understanding how it will influence your brand image. With an end goal in mind, you can implement techniques to communicate your brand values in an authentic way that will resonate with your target audience.
What are Brand Values?
Don’t feel bad if your business doesn’t yet have clearly established brand values. Often, when an organization is starting out, leaders overlook brand values in favour of the company’s mission and vision. However, brand values can tell consumers more about your brand than your mission and vision combined.
Brand values communicate your brand’s identity and moral alignment. They also serve to give your brand personality and are an opportunity for you to connect with consumers on a deeper level. Simply put, your brand values are what drive your business. They’re the reason why your company does what it does.
From supporting a non-profit and donating a portion of its sales to providing every employee with a reusable water bottle, your brand values speak to the core principles that guide your business’s actions. Ideally, consumers should be able to trace every move you make as a brand back to your values.
Such powerful motivators must be present in your social media strategy. Throughout your marketing campaigns, you can showcase your values and use them to add a personal touch to your brand. When brought together strategically, brand values and social media can provide support to society and businesses at a global level.
Do Your Brand Values Really Matter?
Perhaps more than ever before, consumers are taking brand values into consideration when deciding where to spend their hard-earned money. Millennials, in particular, prefer brands with purpose and want to know that the values of the businesses that they patron align with their own. Pro-social messages, sustainable manufacturing practices, and ethical business standards all matter deeply to millennials. Consumers across generations are increasingly aware of where brands stand on a variety of social issues ranging from equal rights to environmentalism.
As consumers make changes in their own lives to be more socially-conscious and sustainable, they want to know the brands they are supporting are invested in similar efforts. Hey Orca! contributor Joe Teo points out that brands like Patagonia and Sephora are rising to the challenge and boldly stating, “this is who we are, and these are the causes we support.” Consumers who’ve taken a similar stance are flocking to these brands since spending money with these businesses is another way of showing support for the cause they care about.
Across its social media campaigns, Patagonia has incorporated its commitment to environmental and social sustainability. The company supports sustainable processes and environmental initiatives. On Instagram, Patagonia regularly shares about its efforts to make environmentally sustainable products. When consumers purchase from Patagonia, they know they’re supporting a business that shares their values.
Similarly, Sephora customers feel good about supporting a cosmetic retailer that, like them, values inclusivity and individuality. From its brand voice to the people featured in campaigns, Sephora shows its commitment to diversity. The brand doesn’t need to tell consumers that it makes products for all types of people. That value is evident in Sephora’s social media strategy.
Like these brands, your goal with your social media strategy should be to craft a story that connects your brand values to your audience’s passion for social issues. This is a chance for you to create content that better engages with your audience. Sharing your brand values in an organic, authentic way will greatly influence consumer buying behaviour.
How to Communicate Your Values in Your Social Media Strategy
From company culture to email marketing, your brand values should be evident in every aspect of your business. But, for the biggest impact, you should make a special effort to share your brand values on social media. Whichever social media platform you choose, you should strive to create content with the look and feel of something your target audience would organically see in their feed.
Remember, consumers today are savvy and can sniff out phony content faster than you can double-tap an Instagram post. Customers don’t just want to buy from you. They’re also seeking a genuine connection. If you want to follow in the footsteps of successful brands like Patagonia and Sephora that have established deep connections with their target audiences, then you must take sharing your brand values seriously.
Before you start communicating your values in your social media strategy, make sure you and your team are clear on what those values are exactly. Don’t just go with what’s trendy or what you think your target customer will want to see from you. Your brand values should define the experience people have when they engage with your business.
With your brand values clearly defined, you can move forward with including them in your social media strategy. For example, the tone of your brand voice should align with your values. From your Instagram captions to your tweets, make sure your tone reflects your values. To help speak to your ideal customer, spend time listing out key phrases that will make your marketing efforts cohesive. Consider the language that your target consumer uses when talking about the causes they’re passionate about.
For example, if your company is committed to going green, you’ll want your brand voice and the language you use on social media to consistently tie into sustainability. Highlight your business’s green habits on social media so that customers can see the efforts you and your team are making to be eco friendly. Go behind the scenes and show your employees drinking from reusable water bottles or preparing customer orders with eco-friendly packaging. Rather than telling consumers about your brand values, you’re showing them.
Social Media is About More Than Selling
Many businesses make the mistake of focusing their social media strategy around selling. While that’s not a bad mindset to have, you can’t solely think of your social media strategy as a way to sell your products or services. Some posts and interactions need to just be about selling your brand as one that aligns with your target consumer and is worth supporting.
Whether starting a discussion in your comments section or donating to a nonprofit organization, embrace these opportunities to bond emotionally with customers. A strong emotional connection with customers, such as over a shared value, can make all the difference in a competitive market.
A social media strategy that focuses on selling products and services alone isn’t enough. Consumers will see right through that. Your strategy must communicate empathy and ethos. To show that you care about more than your business’s bottom line, your social media strategy needs to include your values.
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