All companies that have used social media successfully have a common trait. It’s not the features or benefits of their products. There are thousands of companies making great products with exceptional and sometimes groundbreaking features that never make it. Products are not what inspire us to follow a company or spread their message. What inspires us, as Simon Sinek points out in his book about leadership, Start with Why, is the motivation behind why they do what they do.
Social media is about people, and if you want to inspire people to follow your company and purchase your products, then you need to stop looking to connect with people that need your products and instead find the people that believe what you believe.
Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Apple don’t have millions of devoted followers because their products are the best (they’re not in my opinion). They’ve managed to become the companies most successful at using social media because they clearly and often communicate to us what they believe. The same holds true for all of the great leaders I’ve ever admired. They have a dream, not a 10-point plan.
Unfortunately, most companies (and people for that matter) don’t know why they do what they do. And if they do know, they haven’t figure out how to communicate it to the rest of us. When I say “why,” I’m not talking about making money, that’s a result. I’m talking about telling people about why your organization exists. What’s your cause? Why do you get out of bed in the morning and why should anybody care?
Of course this common trait holds true through all sales, marketing and communications. But what makes social media such a tough nut to crack is that unlike passive, couch-potato media, it’s a medium that requires people to become actively involved in the marketing process. And if somebody is going to become involved in spreading your message, it’s going to be to fulfill their own needs, not yours.
If you don’t know why you do what you do and people respond to why you do things, then how will you ever get people to buy from you? Make your products a way to prove that you are committed to your cause and your social media strategy will succeed.