Social media traditionally has been used as a way of showcasing products/services and giving brands a voice so they can engage with their customers at a social level. As more and more platforms arrive and entrepreneurs are flooding the market place with smaller niche offerings, brands are having to go back to the psychology of selling and learn how to connect to their users on an emotional level.

Put Social Thinking at the Core of the brand ambition 

Before launching any social campaign – businesses need to define what they want to achieve and how they help their customers solve a problem. Why do you do things the way you do and what is your USP? Defining company purpose and ambition creates a focus based on why you do things, not what you do.

For example, Coca-Cola’s mission is to “inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions”. A fantastic example of how they highlighted this is the campaign: #OpenUp, which ran in the Middle East during Ramadan to encourage people to embrace different points of view and challenge traditions.


Define Your Values, Voice and Beliefs As a business

Many businesses have a dusty document somewhere or rarely visited webpage defining what their mission statement is, but very few have made these core to how they actually behave. This means that values and beliefs remain internal, and consumers will have no way to differentiate them in the market place.

A great example of an organisation that has understood its core values and beliefs is Paddy Power. Its “mischievous irreverence” is at the heart of everything it does, from publicity stunts to recruiting. Its first interview question is “how weird are you?”

Here are some more great reactive brands ensuring they are staying true to their values.

How to Create A Positive Social Value Exchange

In the social media age, sharing and liking content is incorrectly commonly used as a measure of engagement with customers.

But when really focusing on putting social thinking at the centre of marketing doesn’t mean just creating content and having a presence; it means developing ideas which your customers care about and what they can relate to.

For example, feminine hygiene brands tend to take a product-benefit-based approach. Always turned this on its head with one of my favourite campaigns #LikeAGirl. It championed pride in being a girl at the confusing time of puberty, when girls are at their most vulnerable to social pressure. The result is a hugely powerful campaign, which is a fabulous example of  creating a new type of value exchange.

In a different approach, Tandem bank used the social insight that people are just fed up of poor service in retail banking. They cleverly “pranked” some pub punters and challenged them at the end asking why they would accept service like this in a bank over a pub.

Expedia’s moving tale of a father traveling to his lesbian daughter’s wedding, “Find Your Understanding,” challenged traditional values and highlighted the importance of travel.


The video did a lot more than simply tell Expedia’s brand story to the outside world, it made Expedia employees feel valued.

“I work for Expedia and am proud to be employed by a company that doesn’t just support LGBT employees, but treats them like human beings and not just another number,” wrote Blake Awakuni in response to the ad.

Hold Social To A Higher Standard

Social marketing should be held to the same standard as any other marketing channel, particularly as investment in digital marketing continues to grow over traditional channels. Like all major projects, marketers should start with a clear expression of business goals, a clear definition of marketing objectives and a robust measurement framework. Measurement should not simply include social media analytics but also include areas such as brand equity measurement, web analytics and attribution modelling to closed-loop ROI and media mix modelling.

Your brand doesn’t need to become Bono and change the world, but you should think about how your brand can shake things up to make conversation. Competitive advantage stems from doing something new – be relevant and be brave.