Social Media is all about your why, not your what or how

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Online Media Generation’s OMG Social Media Conference took place on November 20thdowntown Vancouver, and with a packed 8-hour schedule it looked to be a promising event – and certainly didn’t disappoint.

The recurrent theme throughout the day was WHY do you do what you do. Not WHAT, and not HOW (because, nobody really gives a s*&!), but WHY. What is the purpose of your business?

One of the opening questions was, what is the ROI of social media? The answer, what is the ROI of your socks!!? It’s something you just have to do. It’s expected. Perhaps a better question would have been, what is the potential loss of revenue by not being on social media? What revenue are you missing out on by not having a strong social media presence? A recent case study shows how $60k in incremental revenue was earned by a Fortune 500 company – $60k they might not have earned had they not had such a strong social presence.


Culture is your brand’s character. Character is critical for telling your story. Therefore, culture is key to a good brand story. A story needs to appeal to people’s emotions. Find your purpose, the “why” you exist, and shout it from the rooftops! For example, a travel company who says their purpose is “We specialize in exotic vacations for the over-50s” is simply stating WHAT they do.  People want to know the “WHY”, your purpose – “We fulfill lifetime dreams”. This kind of purpose creates an emotion, a connection to the audience. A company’s purpose can then form the basis of its core values, the anchor, or the foundation of the company’s culture.


Conversations are two way streets. You can’t be someone who posts all the time but never responds. Be a trusted source, a thought leader. A donut shop conducted a Twitter search for “worst day”, “bad day”, “I’m hungry” within 5km of their location and then offered those tweeting a free donut to cheer them up!

Think about what people might be using in their online posts that you could search for to start up a conversation with them and create a relationship.


Developing advocates of your business is a practice in friendship. When trying to build a base of advocates, that is, people who will tell your story in a positive light for you, approach them as you would a new friendship. Reach out, connect, get to know each other, see if there is a fit, help with a request of theirs, share content, retweet them…THEN move into a conversation about them helping you out by being an advocate. But be prepared to have something cool to offer in return. Most people’s natural response is “what’s in it for me? Of course, the ultimate goal will be to have a community of advocates who do it simply because they love your product or service, and do not need something in return. But to get to that stage, and to keep people advocating for you, it’s generally a good idea to have something to provide to your advocates that is “exclusive” in the early days.  At the very least, always acknowledge people advocating for your product and/or service, and thank them.

On social media, about 90% of people are listeners, 9% are collaborators, and only 1% are those creating the content. This top 10% are your advocates.


Map out content around initiatives, events, promotions, annual holidays etc. Create content in bulk, not on a post-by-post basis. If you know you want to post behind the scenes photos, plan a day when you have a photographer come in and take lots of pictures, and then schedule for release into each platform. It’s a much more efficient way of posting.

When creating your social media calendar, and planning out your communications, think in terms of thirds. Your posts should be one third product related, one third community related, and one third creative. Schedule in the posts that you have to include, followed by the ones youshould or can post, followed by those you simply want to post.

When planning your social media campaigns, consider:

  • The demographic of your target audience
  • The collateral needed.
  • Who will create the collateral needed
  • What examples will be created to show your community what to do
  • What are your goals from each campaign? Short term (e.g. likes, shares, comments, more user generated content) and Long-terms (e.g. increased event attendance, more brand awareness/product knowledge). Note: User generated content is the most valuable you can find. When people post images, copy, save to a folder with the person’s handle, and share at a later date, crediting the person who took the photo.
  • What will you give away? Can you afford to do this on regular basis?
  • What tone are you going to use with your community? How and how often will you communicate with them.
  • Plan to thank people who engage.


  • Engage, don’t rave. No one is on social media to be sold to.            Twitter logo Tweet this
  • Show, don’t tell – pictures of people using your product or experiencing what you offer is far better than sales pictures.
  • Tune into trends.
  • Join conversations – don’t rely on your customers to find you.
  • Respond in a timely manner. Show you value your community.
  • Negative feedback is not a challenge but an opportunity to take back the narrative, set the story straight, and answer questions being posed to you.
  • Surprise and delight your social media fans and followers – show behind-the-scenes pictures of your business, give them rewards for following or engaging, post something that will make them laugh, even if it’s not yours.
  • Understand your community and find content that they will appreciate, and can share with their own community. Sharing is modern day word-of-mouth.
  • Have a hero in your story! Connect both the story and the hero to your core values in your posts.
  • Connect your brand to events and initiatives in your industry and neighbourhood. Tweet local event hashtags to show your support.
  • Create and share “right now” content.
  • Track the tweets that get the most engagement.

Avoid the word “user” and instead think of your social media in terms of a community with “members”.

Rebecca Maynes
Rebecca Maynes is Mediative’s Manager, Content Marketing and Research. Her expertise lies in the creation of engaging thought leadership for Mediative. From compiling eBooks and case studies, to conducting research, analyzing data and writing white papers and reports, Rebecca is an integral part of Mediative’s Marketing and Research team. Rebecca began her career with in England, and, after emigrating to Canada in 2005, she has gone full circle, joining Mediative, a Yellow Pages Group Company, in 2009. Prior positions include Marketing for a B2B Software company. Rebecca graduated from Cardiff University in Wales, UK, with a First Class Honours BSc in Business Administration.