Last week, we kicked off our We First training series with a webinar called, 8 Steps to Becoming a Contagious Social Brand. By looking at strategies employed by some of the most successful companies like Nike, Coke, IBM, and Patagonia, we outlined some clear ways for your organization to combine storytelling and social technologies to build your reputation, community and social impact.

We had a lively Q&A session and gave an exclusive offer combining both an online and live learning experience with the We First community. If you missed it you can watch the replay here and download the slides below.

Key takeaways from 8 Steps to Becoming a Contagious Social Brand:

1. It’s a new marketplace. We’re at the center of a new economy, new customer behaviors, and new social technology- and the speed of change can be dizzying. But that means we all must develop an enduring curiosity for new technology that can build engagement and profits. Stay educated by reading the latest tech blogs like TechCrunch or Mashable , and have some fun experimenting with new channels like Instagram or Vine. Most importantly, observe how your customers relate to their peers and ask them how they’d like to interact with your company.

2. Understand your audience. Here’s the dillemna: “You can’t see the label from inside the jar.” It’s easy to get so caught up in your company’s products and services that you kind of forget what moves your audience. But did you know that, 73% of global consumers say they would switch brands if a different brand of similar quality supported a good cause? That means you must identify your brand’s core values and ask your customers what they care about. Then you can find shared values and purpose to make the authentic mission of your brand.

3. Balance story and telling. Story transcends technology, and the success of your business will be in direct proportion to the emotional impact you have on your customers. In turn, the emotional impact on your customers will be in direct proportion to the social impact of your purpose- so that means your social impact is directly tied to your company’s bottom line. Too many companies rush past telling what they stand for and get lost in all the specific marketing tactics (PPC, Facebook ads, email blasts, etc). But your first concern must be to make sure you’re telling a story worth telling. Enough about your product- tie it to how you change the world. Coke unites around Open Happiness and Starbucks says it’s a Shared Planet. What’s your rallying cry?

4. Define your brand. What’s your company’s purpose, what are its values, what are you the only one of… and why does your organization even exist? If you can’t articulate your company’s vision for the world, it’s very hard for consumers to understand or want to join in and help you. Once you’ve clearly defined your purpose, you need to frame it in the context of the customer. Your customer should be the hero of your story, and your role is to be the celebrant, not celebrity, of your customer community.

5. Align contribution. Only make a contribution in alignment with your company’s core values. If you aren’t transparent and accountable, consumers will easily sense your insincerity and you might be accused of “cause washing.” A good example of aligned contribution is United by Blue -the company will remove 1 pound of trash from the ocean for every product sold. United by Blue has made themselves much more than another beachwear company- they’re a movement for change. You too can turn your company into a badge of honor.

6. Engage customers consistently. Your goal is not just more marketing activity for activity’s sake. Disjointed or conflicting messages can confuse or even alienate your audience. Instead, plan each tactic as a chapter in a longer brand story. Use you and your customers’ common purpose as a guide in your marketing strategy and the channels you choose to leverage.

7. Grow community. As soon as you have an engaged audience you need to reward them and engage them in a new initiative. There’s nothing worse than watching your community slowly wither after the end of one successful campaign. Identify brand ambassadors or mega-fans, and figure how you can inspire them to co-create your brand and share with their friends.

8. Measure and Manage. Stop guessing and commit to pinpointing which tactics work best for your brand. Define your success metrics, create a dashboard to for easy reporting, and adjust your strategies based on data.

WF Webinar 4.17.13 – Eight Steps to Becoming a Contagious Social Brand from Simon Mainwaring