The We First Blog.

How To Become a Contagious Social Brand in 8 Steps

April 22, 2013 Comments

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.

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5 great studies in how to use social media to rally support for social good

April 19, 2013 Comments

I’m a huge fan of the important work that the U.N. Foundation does and in the TEDx talk, Aaron Sherinian, VP for Public Relations, discusses 5 of the revolutions that he believes provide the context — and build the case — for a new approach to public engagement around social good and global progress.

Aaron cites the impact that social entrepreneurs and a new generation of empowered change makers can have in an era when: 1) an unprecedented generation of young people is alive; 2) the emerging power of mobile phones is changing the face of communications; 3) an increased focus on adolescent girls is forcing a new dialogue around development; 4) a fresh approach to philanthropy is changing the definition of the sector; and 5) a vibrant dialogue around social good offer new channels for global good. For more information on these initiatives, visit

Aaron blogs at and is on Twitter at @ASherinian (Special thanks and photo credit to Platon for selected images of UN Foundation supporters used in this presentation.)

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Instruments for Peace: How social media can amplify the music of peace

April 15, 2013 Comments

Each year we discover new ways in which social media can help give voice to those without support and help create a more just and equitable world. One such opportunity has arisen in the Congo where self-taught musicians playing hand-made instruments  have given peace a voice  and inspired the creation of a new non-profit called Instruments of Peace.

Instruments of Peace was founded on Maestro Armand Diangienda’s dream of utilizing music to teach “peace and reconciliation” and is dedicated to bringing the gift of music to the most volatile regions of the world, especially to those who have limited or no access to practice and study music.

It’s aim is to execute Armand’s vision by building music schools, hosting benefit concerts in the U.S., and distributing in-kind donations such as sheet music and instruments to those in need of hope. Specifically, with sufficient help, they will deliver on 3 fronts:

1. Concerts – Benefit concerts will not only raise funds for orchestras and choirs, they will also give people the ability to connect cross-culturally through music. The concerts will give orchestras the opportunity to come to the U.S. and share their talents while raising awareness about the adversity they face in their respective country.  Most importantly, the benefit concerts provide a space where people can come together and enjoy the universal language of music, which adheres to Instruments of Peace’s greater mission of promoting peace.

2. Music Schools – A large part of their efforts are ensuring that people have a place to practice music. To many people who live in impoverished conditions, it is not just a “school”.  It is a place of refuge, a sanctuary where one can pick up an instrument and let the music carry them away to somewhere else for awhile. For others, learning to play an instrument, joining a choir, being on staff as a bookkeeper, or doing instrumental repair provides options for a different direction in life – and options are empowering.

3. Instruments – Without the sounds of music flowing through hallways and reverberating off walls, a music school is just another building. The goal is to make sure that every student has an instrument and sheet music, whether it is donated or handcrafted locally. Training locals as “instrument-smiths” will ensure that every broken instrument can be refurbished and played again.

Instruments of Peace is exactly that – an opportunity for each of us to support and amplify their work to accelerate this process in the Congo and sub-Saharan Africa.

They have just launched an Indiegogo project here with great perks for contribution.

To see a recent 60 minutes piece on this project, click here. Please support if you can with a contribution and by sharing this link so we can help transform the lives of those in need.

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Free We First webinar: How your business becomes a contagious social brand

April 12, 2013 0 Comments

This year We First promised to deliver more valuable free training to help you build your brand reputation, community and positive social impact. So we’re very excited to announce the first free webinar in this new series to be held …

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Inspiring productivity: How to build trust with employees that drives business success

April 9, 2013 3 Comments

Last year I shared a sample social contract between a brand and its customers as a demonstration of how a company builds a community around shared values and a common purpose, the goal being to not only build a better …

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How the smartest brands use social media to sky-rocket their reputation, profits and social impact

April 4, 2013 0 Comments

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the iStrategy Conference in Melbourne. The day was special for three very important reasons. First, it was great to be included in the conference. Second, it was the first time I ever …

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Be Remedy: Your chance to change the lives of so many through so little

April 2, 2013 0 Comments

Be Remedy is an inspiring demonstration of the ability of social media to empower people to be the change they want to create in the world. The concept launched by Blake Canterbury in Atlanta two years ago is as simple …

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The three pillars of marketing organizations of the future

March 28, 2013 5 Comments

Guest post by Prof. Steven Van Belleghem of InSites Consulting. The marketing organization of the future will be very different from the current structure and culture. The classic model, in which a marketer entrusts a single advertising agency with all communications, is …

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About Simon Mainwaring

Simon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.