How To Power Your Brand Stories With Social Media
To understand how social media can power brand storytelling and vice versa, you must first understand their individual values. The no-frills, simple explanation is this: Social media facilitates connectivity, while brand storytelling creates that connectivity.
Think of social networks as virtual venues where like-minded people go to hang out. At any venue – be it a bar, coffee shop, restaurant – there are going to be people, interactions, small talk and pleasantries.
Brand storytelling is not just another patron making idle chit-chat. No, think of brand storytelling as the passionate, captivating guy (or gal) holding the room's attention with a fascinating tale.
This individual is still engaging even at home surrounded by friends, but the connectivity increases exponentially when in the crowded bar. Social media is the crowded bar. It helps spread your stories. Snippets, extracts, and anecdotes are passed around, retweeted, liked, and explained bit-by-bit (Kissmetrics).
Here's a how-to guide for telling your brand stories on social media:
Tips for telling brand stories on social media
1. Do your research
It's important to remember that your customers are not just transactions but real, living, breathing human beings who crave connectivity with others (note: other humans, not corporations). So show your humanity! But first, do your research.
Find out which platforms your customers like to hang out on and how they engage. More than just research, actually talk to them. Find out their favorite networks, the brands they're following, who they're interacting with and what manner. Why are they on social media in the first place? What do they value most from the brands they follow?
CEO/Founder of TheBuzzPlant, Bob Hutchins, says that everyone in your target audience has, “a desire to share and connect. But where they go for this end can vary greatly. Do your research!”
2. Build advocacy through human success stories.
Your brand stories don’t always have to be about you; in fact, the majority of them shouldn’t be. Brands have many stories and the most powerful ones are often customer success stories. Over time, these stories build a solid foundation of trust around your brand.
Ekaterina Walter, bestselling author and Co-founder/CMO of Branderati, affirms, “Advocacy, done right, becomes true influence. And influence is what impacts behaviors. Because the ultimate goal of marketing is to not just to tell a great story, but to tell a story that would make people want to get to know a brand and buy the product.” (MackCollier)
3. Engage through curiosity.
People love to talk about themselves, so don't be afraid to get personal with your audience (to an extent of course -- don't be intrusive). Not only will people share their stories and experiences with you, but they will love that you care.
According to Bazaarvoice, 64 percent of millennials and 53 percent of baby boomers want more options to share their opinions about brands, while other studies show that consumers trust UGC (user generated content) more than all other forms of media (HubSpot). Get creative with your approach and consider a UGC campaign.
One of our favorite examples is Starbucks' White Cup contest, which prompted 4,000 customers to submit entries over the course of three weeks (that's alotta coffee).
Image from Starbucks Newsroom
4. Cultivate loyal followers.
Word of mouth is one of the most effective types of marketing that money can’t buy. Marketshare calls this your brand’s “social voice” (Forbes). To get your social voice heard and shared, you need more than just a presence on social media; you must cultivate loyal followers by building trust.
Disclaimer: this is not a quick or easy process. Like any solid relationship, it must be nurtured over time. You can do this by consistently sharing high quality content that points back to your brand’s core values and beliefs.
The true power of social media is found when it collides with great brand storytelling. Can you avoid the collision and still find value in each? Sure, but in the end, it’s the combination that will show you the biggest return.
Use social media to power your brand storytelling, and vice versa.
The P&G brand did a fantastic job with this inspiring and empowering storytelling campaign. The video has received 80 million views worldwide (Adweek) and was ranked the top digital campaign of the Super Bowl based on an analysis of mentions on a variety of social networks and Internet platforms.
Remember what we said about user-generated content? GoPro encourages its social media followers to submit their best GoPro photos and videos for the chance to be featured in the brand’s photo/video of the day, many of which get posted across multiple accounts. To further entice fans to submit, the winners earn 50% off two items at its online store.
Oreo is no novice to social media, or brand storytelling. Look at how, in a simple Vine video, the brand is able to tell a story. (Takeaway: There are stories in everything, you just have to pay attention.)
Another great example, this time from Lego. The company shows how it's done, and in a single still image no less.
General Electric posted this captivating brand storytelling image to its Instagram account to drive traffic to its YouTube channel, just one of its amazingly successful social accounts. GE’s social presence shows that no matter what industry you’re in, there's always a story. It's all what you make of it.
The company’s work on social has inspired articles like this and this.
See how it's done...
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