What role does social media play in communicating brand purpose?

Social media plays a crucial role in communicating brand purpose to a wide audience. It provides a powerful platform for brands to share their values, missions, and commitments with the public authentically and engagingly.

For example:

1. Amplifying brand purpose messages

Social media allows brands to amplify their brand purpose messages and reach a large and diverse audience. The various platforms available to us allow brands to share their purpose-driven initiatives, stories, and values, creating awareness and fostering engagement. More often than not, the result is a community that has been built from thoughtful content shared by the brand. This community will be composed of like-minded individuals who support their cause and ultimately establish a strong brand identity that goes beyond the products or services they offer.

By consistently sharing purpose-driven content, brands create a strong brand identity and establish themselves as leaders within their industry or cause. When followers engage with this content and connect with the brand’s values, they develop a sense of belonging and become part of a community. Building this community first and engaging with followers lays a foundation of trust and loyalty.

2. Encouraging engagement and conversation

Once a brand has established its brand messages (and its purpose) which hopefully results in a community online, engagement and conversations can follow. Communities who feel supported and appreciated by brands are more likely to remain loyal followers and even customers. Therefore, by actively interacting with followers, brands can deepen relationships with their audience, cultivate brand loyalty, and gain valuable insights.

Creating an open and interactive space for dialogue is a highly valuable marketing skill. Brands can initiate conversations by sharing thought-provoking content, asking questions, or posing challenges related to their purpose. By doing so, they invite their audience to engage and share their thoughts, opinions, and personal experiences. This not only helps to create a sense of community but also allows brands to gain a deeper understanding of their audience’s perspectives and values.

Furthermore, social media platforms offer brands the opportunity to join ongoing conversations and trending topics related to their cause. By actively participating in relevant discussions, brands can establish themselves as thought leaders and advocates within their industry or social issue. This demonstrates a genuine commitment to its purpose and positions the brand as an active participant in the larger conversation.

3. Partnering with influencers who share a similar purpose

Social media facilitates collaborations between brands and influencers or activists who share similar values and goals. By partnering with individuals who have a significant online presence and a dedicated following, brands can extend their reach and impact. Influencers and activists can help amplify the brand’s purpose-driven messages, promote their initiatives, and advocate for the brand’s products or services. This collaboration not only expands the brand’s visibility but also adds credibility and authenticity to its purpose.

Real-life example: Patagonia

Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and supplies brand, serves as an exceptional example of effectively using social media to communicate brand purpose. With a strong commitment to environmental activism, Patagonia has successfully aligned its brand purpose with its social media strategy, creating a powerful connection with its target audience. By emphasising storytelling and highlighting environmental causes rather than focusing solely on promoting its products, Patagonia prioritises delivering its environmental message to its followers.

Patagonia’s social media efforts are centred around its key pillars of nature, outdoor activities, and sustainability. For example:

  • Their Instagram presence, with 5 million followers, showcases stunning photos and authentic inspirational stories that resonate with their outdoor lifestyle-focused audience. At first glance, their feed looks like an individual’s account who has a huge passion for all things adventure. It takes a few seconds to register that it is a brand account.
  • On Facebook, Patagonia extends its content strategy by sharing longer videos, links to articles, and a wide range of events associated with its brand. They capitalise on the opportunity to create and promote events, tapping into the millennial desire for experiences and fostering a sense of community.
  • By curating and sharing news and information related to nature, national parks, voting, and conservation efforts on Twitter, Patagonia strengthens its position as a thought leader in the environmental space and keeps its audience informed and engaged.

What should we take from Patagonia’s approach?

What sets Patagonia apart is its ability to seamlessly integrate its products into the content. Instead of solely featuring product shots, Patagonia showcases their products within the context of real stories, experiences, and moments shared by its customers. By doing so, they create a deeper connection between their audience and their brand, emphasising the value and relevance of their products within the outdoor lifestyle.

Through its social media presence, Patagonia consistently communicates its brand purpose of environmental activism and sustainability. By delivering valuable content that resonates with its audience, Patagonia has cultivated a strong brand aura. By doing so, they have also developed a loyal community of followers. Their social media strategy serves as a testament to the role social media plays in communicating brand purpose and values.

What role does brand purpose play in influencing consumer behaviour?

As a brand on social media, it would be difficult to believe that you are noting using social media as a way to increase your brand awareness and promote your brand. Essentially, you want to influence consumer behaviour. So, how is communicating brand purpose going to generate KPIs? Well, by leveraging the power of social platforms, brands can raise awareness about the brand’s purpose. They can also inspire their audience to make related choices. This, in turn, can lead to the development of loyal customers who are more likely to return to the brand.

When it comes time for followers to make consumer decisions they are more likely to choose the brand they feel connected to. The awareness and understanding of the brand’s purpose that has been nurtured through social media interactions translate into customer loyalty. This loyalty extends beyond individual transactions. These customers are more likely to become repeat customers and brand advocates who share their positive experiences with others.

Key summary points

  1. Amplifying brand messages: Social media allows brands to reach a wide and diverse audience, sharing purpose-driven initiatives, stories, and values. This fosters engagement, builds a community, and establishes a strong brand identity.
  1. Encouraging engagement and conversation: Brands can deepen relationships with their audience by actively interacting and inviting dialogue. By joining conversations and discussing relevant topics, brands demonstrate commitment and gain valuable insights.
  1. Partnering with influencers: Collaborating with influencers or activists who share similar values expands the brand’s reach and adds credibility. Influencers can amplify purpose-driven messages, advocate for the brand, and promote its initiatives.
  1. Real-life example: Patagonia: Patagonia effectively communicates its environmental activism purpose through social media. By emphasising storytelling and showcasing their products within the context of real experiences, they create a strong connection with their audience.
  1. Influencing consumer behaviour: Brand purpose communicated through social media can influence consumer choices and generate loyal customers. By nurturing awareness and understanding of the brand’s purpose, brands can foster customer loyalty and advocacy.

What account comes to mind when you think of a company that uses social media effectively to communicate brand purpose? Let us know!

Tinisha Osu is a Marketing Executive with two degrees in Psychology. She is the first-author of a published psychology paper and is beginning her career in marketing through blog-writing, creating social media content and running marketing campaigns.