As social media continues to evolve, exciting new opportunities are arising. “Conscious” or “purpose-driven” brands are beginning to use social technologies externally and internally to lead, inspire and motivate employees and other stakeholders.

An innovative way to communicate a brand’s purpose, values and story to employees is through an internal social network. As with external social media, two-way communication is essential.

Ask employees to articulate how they have lived brand purpose and values, and encourage them to post their experience to the network. For example, let’s say one brand value is inspiration. Ask employees what inspires them or what they did on the job last week that was inspirational to others. You now have engaged employees taking a formal, impersonal value and articulating it, in their terms, to the rest of the company. Once posted, others see content from peers and colleagues. They can comment, like or share posts; relationships are built across departments and offices and core values and the brand’s purpose come to life in terms everyone can understand. The same approach can be taken with customers via external social media platforms.

For suppliers and other business partners, let them know what you stand for and what value you provide unwaveringly to the customer. Collaborate socially with them to determine improved and new ways to deliver that value. This is important because to be truly innovative, you have to involve those outside the four walls of your company with a different perspective.

Socializing conscious brand purpose has merit across industries but I think there is particular applicability for companies in the food industry. With epidemic childhood obesity, regular food borne illness outbreaks, the ongoing controversy over genetically modified ingredients, and social media driven incidents such as the “pink slime” beef blow up last year, social networking provides powerful internal and external platforms for food (and other) brands to communicate the brand’s beliefs, practices and position, and authentically engage with stakeholders.

The social Web is here to stay, and as it continues to grow and morph, its power to amplify and expose messages instantly will proceed unabated. Conscious brands and companies committed to their purpose and values that can harness the potential of the social Web externally and internally for genuine dialogue will thrive today and for the long term.

John M. Lee is Founder of Digital Growth Strategies, a marketing communications consultancy that helps conscious brands and companies align the hearts and minds of stakeholders through strategic social networking. He tweets @johnmlee.

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