Social Is Useless If You Have Nothing To Say

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One of the core beliefs that underpin Understand And Serve is the need for companies to stand for something that transcends the usual corporate mission of maximizing profit. Previously we’ve talked about a bunch of companies that fall into that category including Apple and USAA.

We live in a world where people now seek out brands that meet their worldview as well as providing great, relevant products and services. They look for brands that behave ethically and sustainably, that treat their employees and suppliers well, and whose philanthropic instincts and activities match their own.

But more than that, people are moved by companies whose vision encompasses a clear passion for the sector they serve and the consumer solutions they provide. Allstate comes to mind with their powerful “That’s Allstate’s Stand” stake-in-the-ground approach. A smaller example is Hagerty Insurance based in Traverse City Michigan. If you don’t own a classic car you won’t have heard of them, but if you do you’ll almost certainly be insured by them and know all about the leadership and advocacy role they play in the classic car hobby.

These four great companies stand for something that’s greater than the profit motive. It’s a powerful differentiator. It also (helpfully) gives them permission to tell stories. Stories that can be passionately and compellingly told. That people are captivated by. That they want to read and share with others. In other words, the kind of stories that power the social web.

I was intrigued by a post on the always excellent Edward Boches blog. Edward attended the recent SXSW interactive conference in Austin and asked a number of digirati for their impressions of the festival. Two back-to-back comments on the state of social media stood out.

“We need to be doing something interesting if we’re to share it”.

“Social media is boring until we do something innovative with it”.

Far too many companies and agencies continue to be engaged in social for the sake of it. Far too few understand the importance of storytelling – and therefore the need to have interesting stories to tell in the first place.

And this is extremely important. People are using the web to make decisions about what to buy. They’re looking for reasons to choose. Apple, Allstate, USAA and Hagerty know what to give them. It used to be called ‘reasons to believe’. Actually that still sounds pretty good.

Lesson to companies and social agencies. Social is meaningless without great content. People want to hear from you. You better have stories to tell.

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