Social Spotlight: Square and The Power of Focus

Welcome to the Social Spotlight, where we dive deep into what we love about a brand’s approach to a specific social campaign. From strategy through execution and results, we’ll examine what makes the best brands on social tick — and leave you with some key takeaways to consider for your own brand’s social strategy.


Telling compelling stories as a B2B software company isn’t always easy–trust us, we know. But in the case of mobile payments processor Square, a laser focus on its primary buyers has allowed the brand to go deep with the stories it finds and champions. Making payments processing more human is no easy task, but Square has found a way to create connection by using beautiful photography, videography and custom illustrations to reveal the people behind the business. This approach creates maximum relevance for its audience–rather than trying to create multiple connections across diverse audiences, which often results in limited relevance and forgettable stories. Instead Square stands out in its category for being approachable, relatable and, let’s face it, a whole lot prettier on social than its competition.


Square, founded in 2009 by Jim McKelvey and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, was born of necessity: McKelvey is a glass artist who was losing four-figure sales because he couldn’t accept credit cards. Together McKelvey and Dorsey realized that democratizing the ability to accept credit cards securely and easily would change the game for small businesses, opening them up to new sales opportunities, venues and revenue streams. The timing was exactly right, as a renewed interest in “maker culture” and shopping local took hold in urban areas and more and more small businesses opened to meet that demand. Square’s first hardware product, the Square Reader, plugged into the headphone jack of a mobile phone to enable vendors to accept credit card payments through Square’s app from anywhere they had a cell signal. This leveled the playing field for businesses that didn’t operate out of brick-and-mortar locations, and everything from food trucks to farmers’ markets were now able to offer a cashless, convenient payment option to customers. Small business needed Square, and Square built its brand by being an ally to small business.


When you make great software, it’s tempting to try to appeal to every audience possible in order to maximize reach. But the result is often a lukewarm reception, because the audiences you do reach may have a hard time seeing themselves in your stories. It may take awhile for your business to reach the point where you know, and can optimize for, one specific audience. But the depth of connection that kind of focused relevance creates will be well worth it and pay off in the brand loyalty it creates.


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