Leveraging Values To Win



In the last five years, “cause marketing” has been a hot trend to help raise the profile of brands without touting the brand’s core value proposition, but adding a charity to your brand is not a magic bullet for garnering positive brand association. Your charity could be polarizing in some way, off-brand, or otherwise look obviously tacked on.

While “cause marketing” could be limited to a tactic or a fad, the essence of what makes it resonate with the general public is that we are drawn in by inspirational stories and stories of triumph over adversity. It’s what makes sites like Upworthy so successful. However, you need to be very deliberate with your approach and tone to make the best emotional impact that will inspire action on behalf of your potential customers.

Why values-based messaging works

Even the most curmudgeonly person is moved by powerful stories. In our daily lives, we’re often shut off from anything outside our tiny world view that when we see dramatic stories, good or bad, that we can’t even fathom, it serves as a powerful reminder that we are not the centre of the universe. Simultaneously, when we see a story of triumph, it is a great comfort to us, as we can empathize with being down and overcoming it.

How to get started

It’s important when beginning a values-based campaign to look at the goal you want to achieve: is it aligning yourself with a spirit of giving back? Is it highlighting great people who do selfless works? Is it to inspire customers to selfless action? Your answer to this will directly determine what your approach will be.

You need to find a fit between the action you want customers to take and the point of view of your current brand values. You want to avoid anachronism. You want to bullet-proof your brand from being seen as hypocritical.

Look for the emotional hook

Once you have the basic idea of what kinds of values and action you want to inspire, you have to look at what makes people tick. What’s the emotion you want to uncover for your target audience that spurs them to the result you’re looking for? Sometimes, that emotion will be negatively charged (outrage, discomfort). Other times, that emotion will be positively charged (hope, relaxation). It’s important to look at how you can play more than one emotion against another as you build out a longer campaign.

Gather stories and notice patterns, jargon, etc. in the stories

Start searching for stories that you think encapsulate the feelings and actions you have laid out in your goals. Consider using a product like ShareGrab or Prismatic or even Google Alerts to find stories that elicit the kinds of emotions you’re looking for. Look closely at the language used. Pay attention to any trends in storytelling format. Use this information to integrate some of the language of these types of posts into planned posts of your own. Inspirational messaging has a very specific cadence to it. Troubling stories have a specific way of describing situations to avoid triggers and to be sensitive to the situation described.

Plan spotlight posts

It’s best to spread out your values posts. You can do this by adding them in a ratio (five regular posts to every one values post, for example), or you could decide to have days of the week or month where you spotlight affirmations, uplifting stories, amazing interactions with customers, etc. This will help establish a predictable pattern with your followers and have your fans eagerly anticipate your posts on these topics.

Have a plan for trolls

These types of content can attract the worst behavior on the web: trolls. Make sure you have a plan to effectively deal with trolls, and a cut point by which certain behaviors result in bans (whether temporary or permanent). This will help keep the mood focused on the message, and the other, enthusiastic fans happy.

Involve your community

An easy way to keep the momentum going for your values posts is to solicit feedback from your community. You can use polls, open posts, even design campaigns specifically around finding out what matters most to your community. Integrate this into your existing calendar for best results.

Follow through with surprise and delight

Have fans that share your values enthusiastically? Surprise them with swag or mentions to help them feel recognized.

Social media is a profound source of and force for good in this world and can inspire change. With some focused brand values, some research, and some input from your community, you can help leverage emotions to gain better rapport and elicit higher sales from your community.


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