Distilled: #PRSMS2013 at Marquette University

Ah, conferences. Every time I go I feel completely invigorated by everything I just learned. But since it requires a whole lot of attention and critical thinking in a very short period of time, it usually takes me a few days to process everything that just transpired.

Thankfully, I use Evernote to keep track of everything in my post-grad learning spheres. While we chatted about everything from Alterra’s name change to Colectivo, building online communities, writing good content and social media for small businesses the most solidifying talk came at the very end — WHY.

Augie Ray has been doing social media since before it was cool. You could say he was one of the original hipsters. He’s been doing social media for 5 years with Prudential and he knows a thing or two about an engaged social audience. He broke it down this way — classic social strategy briefs ask which channels to use (how) and what messages need to be sent out (what) but what really creates an engaged user base that’s loyal to a brand is the why.

As Ray said, the actual question is WHY? Why do I exist? Why should users care about them? Why should users come to us? Why follow you? Why am I on Facebook? Why am I on Twitter? What’s expected? Why engage with me?

Which all boils down to this simple fact: If you don’t know why people should care, that’s a MUCH bigger issue. Ray pressed the audience to consider the following;

Every company knows what it does. Every employee knows what to do. 

Some companies know how (process). How do I go to market? How do I differentiate myself? 

Not many know WHY. Making money isn’t a WHY, it’s an outcome. 

Having a purpose gives people a reason to want to do business with you. Five brands doing this right are U by Kotex, BarclayCard, Secret, Chipotle and the USAA, not because they are interesting or because they’re directly correlative to their brand identity, but because they’ve taken on a greater cause and made it real.

If it doesn’t change your business, it’s not real. You have to BE the purpose, Ray said. Otherwise, it’s just manipulative.


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