In a newsroom, you will often hear people say: If you can't tell your story in one sentence, then you don't have a story. The same is true with branding: if you can't tell your brand's story in one social media post, then you let go of a golden opportunity -opportunity to inspire, connect, and build a loyal following. People have this fondness of reading through what's going on with other people and how others feel. A wedding proposal story, for example, is always a hit. Stories like these make you happy, giddy, emotional, and important just because it was shared with you.
This is how social media marketing must look like: like a story. For the target market to fully grasp what your brand is about, they have to feel that they are a part of it. Your brand has to look real and human. Branding consultant and author Jim Stengel said that today's most trustworthy brands do not necessarily have the biggest sales or market share but what makes them successful is they have created personal relationships with consumers. In an interview with Entrepreneur.com, Stengel said that building emotional relationships result in "much stronger affinity, a much stronger business, and much stronger growth."
Social media platforms are not just distribution channels but a conversation channel where people share experiences, opinions, values, feelings and dreams. So the next time you market on social media, engage your audience by telling them your non-linear brand's story and what it means. Without being hard sell, you can move consumers from "sharing" to "purchasing" just like 40% of social media users in a recent study published by Vision Critical. You can drive consumers from just "trying you out" to being "loyal to your brand."
Here are seven keys to effective storytelling on social media for brand marketing:
Share humble beginnings
People love fairy tales and happy endings. In this storyline, Apple is a knight in shining armor. What could be better than starting out a would-be great company in your father's garage? Apple sold that story and consumers bought it. Consumers did not buy the Apple brand; they brought what the brand symbolizes: innovation and inspiration. Having an iPhone does not only mean getting the best technology, it means being part of history. Apple makes you feel deserving of great things.
Not all brands have Hollywood-worthy stories like Steve Jobs and Apple but every brand has to start somewhere. Reflect on your brand's beginnings and struggles then captivate your audience with them. Make people want your success and inspire them to start their own.
Empower with your brand
Craft your social media content in such a way that it empowers your audience. Learn from sports brands like Nike and Adidas: "Just Do It" and "Impossible Is Nothing." These brands did not tell you how they made their shoes but they told you what you can do with them. We will always remember the way Michael Jordan just did it and how Lionel Messi conquered the impossible. This is storytelling at its best --- tell the story of your brand by sharing what it can do to people and how it can make them more powerful.
Focus on emotions
Engage your target market by rousing their emotions and tugging on their heartstrings. For example, Coca-Cola is selling not beverage but happiness. The objective is to delight customers from their Facebook accounts to vending machines. You can do the same by making your social media content competitive, more emotional and sharing moving stories consistent with your brand. Let's say you are branding a makeup company, focus not on shades or how long it will last on your face but make the idea of beauty something human, attainable, and something that will make you feel better about yourself.
Storytelling is about giving non-linear content and capturing the human experience. Forget being technical and smart if that would only make your content sound impersonal and distant. It is only when you sound like you understand and feel your consumers that they begin to take notice and eventually trust you. So, get close and personal.
For example, when you post a link to your website as part of your social media content, make sure that it will include helping consumers make decisions based on their lifestyle and aspirations, make appropriate recommendations, and ask them what they want and what they think with the objective of getting get to know them better (i.e. user reviews and profiles).
Sell an experience
Think about this: why do people love having coffee at Starbucks? For sure, it isn't really the best coffee in the world but it arguably gives you the best coffee experience. That is the Starbucks story that sets them apart from the rest: their coffee shop feels like home. When you step into a Starbucks shop there is always business going on, some sort of connection. People here catch-up, make business decisions, or simply relax.
Remember Starbucks when you map out your own social media marketing strategies. Share content of how your brand is offering an experience and not just function and utility. Your product is only a part of the story; it is not your story.
Be truthful and consistent
When you "storify" your brand, don't lie. Be truthful and don't make promises you can't keep. If your story goes something like "We know your time is precious so we get the job done in an hour," do it in an hour. If you have a logo and tagline that works, stick to it and be consistent. Make your consumers feel that your brand is honest and dependable.
Any story will look better when shared with visuals. Look at how Dove does it with their emotional videos or how carefully PR managers of Obama pick the images they will post on social media. A compelling photo could tell your brand's story and make people stop and take notice. Using images will also make your story competitive across all social media channels.
Don't just share content on social networks, tell it. Remember that your customers are human beings not just number and logistics. It's time to review your brand and make it into a narrative with authentic characters or events and exciting experiences. Stories transcend time, distance, and cultures -everybody, everywhere at any time, loves them. So give those statistics and specifications a rest and focus on what really matters -your story.