The following is a guest post by Al Gomez. Al is a digital marketing consultant. He is the President of Dlinkers, and he specializes in SEO, PPC, & web development since 2008. Al has over 10 years’ client digital marketing experience and has helped businesses such as Dr. Berg, Patexia, Panel Wall Art, the Ritz Carlton, and countless others use the web to drive online visibility and generate leads.
Storytelling on social media is all the rage nowadays…
As consumers and target audiences trust sales pitches and product descriptions less and less, there is a greater need for brands to up the ante when it comes to engagement. Technology has evolved so much that interacting with brands have never been easier. But horrible experiences also abound. (Need I mention what they are?)
There is a solution to this kind of predicament, and it comes in the form of storytelling.
Storytelling and Human Nature
We’ll discuss storytelling and psychology in just a minute…
But first, and foremost, let me ask this question.
As a child, how fond of storytelling were you? In any shape, method, or form, any child would have been fascinated with the stories that they heard (or read; or seen). And even as an adult, that love for hearing stories hasn’t diminished. Although it’s morphed into a different form, the affinity that we have for hearing an introduction, a climax, and a resolution hasn’t changed at all.
Now, let’s step back from the modern era for a bit…
Imagine how people of the old days lived their lives. Without technology, how did people entertain themselves?
They played games, listened to music, and yes, they told stories. Lots of them.
In the words of Psychology Today's Pamela B. Rutledge Ph.D., M.B.A., "Our brains still respond to content by looking for the story to make sense out of the experience. No matter what the technology, the meaning starts in the brain."
Why, you might ask? Simply put, stories are the perfect example of authentic human experiences.
Stories are so powerful because:
It is a form of communication. It's very primitive, and yet, it has transcended the generations.
Stories represent a larger self and universal truths.
They are all about connection and collaboration.
Stories are how people think. It's how we make sense of life, isn't it?
It's how, we, as humans are wired.
● They trigger our imagination by engaging the right brain.
Is it such a big wonder why a lot of brands take to storytelling on social media?
Storytelling Formats on Social Media
Thanks to technology evolving above more than what we had hoped for, brands and marketers no longer have an excuse to create stories that are bland and unappealing…
There are so many methods to tell stories nowadays, that it’s just up to us to delve deeper and come up with creative methods to indulge our viewers and audiences in our storytelling.
Besides technology (ranging from smartphones to virtual reality headsets), the number of platforms to share these stories have also increased in number (from print to stories on search engines to ones on social media networks).
Telling your brand’s stories on social media can be done through:
Videos: It’s how people prefer to consume content nowadays.
Images: A nod to visual content once again.
Posts: Something motivational or inspirational. Even captions do excellent work and pack a punch when combined with visual content.
Podcasts: Audio appeal, and a good way for people to entertain themselves while doing other things.
How to Tell Your Brand’s Stories on Social Media
The formats and the method of distributing your compelling stories matter, of course. But none are as important as the message you wish to convey to your target audience. What do you want your target audience to know? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to do afterwards?
To evoke certain responses from your chosen audience, here are five methods to tell your brand’s stories on social media.
#1 Show real people
In today's mode of storytelling, it's best to show real people working behind the company -- not just the brand logo or the company name (though that’s important too). From the first to the last link of the business.
Showing what goes on behind-the-scenes is no longer breakthrough news -- by any means. But showing what happens within the company walls, and how products are made -- or how services operate conveys more than authenticity. It fosters transparency and honesty.
Do you know how you can make it even better?
You can spice up your storytelling by letting members of team tell a story from their point-of-view. That's how you show different perspectives, and display your brand in a bright light, at the same time.
With full discretion, don't hesitate to show the big life-changing events happening in your company. From something as simple as an office renovation to events as grand as a product launch.
Tell your audience all about it!
#2 Uncover Your Origins
Another classic method of doing your storytelling -- or a good material you should use, is your company's complete background information. History isn't always the most interesting to a lot of people. But in this case, it's safe to say that it's an exception.
It's especially beneficial if your brand has been around a while, and it's been gradually gaining a lot of engagement. That's a perfect time to share company history with an audience who's interested in learning the company's beginnings.
Company histories are authenticity and encouragement rolled into one. It's you telling your audience that reaching your dreams is perfectly possible.
It's the business version of a Disney fairytale…
#3 Encourage User-generated Content
Do you know what's more valuable and engaging than your own stories? Your audiences'.
User-generated content comes in three different forms:
Customer feedback: That's the most common type of user-generated content. It fosters engagement as your customers ask questions and get answers in return -- either from you or your other clients.
Reviews and ratings: These are more straightforward. And they come in either positive or negative. Numerous studies show that peer reviews go a very long way to up your business' credibility.
Pictures and screenshots: Pictures for B2C; screenshots for B2B. Image-proof goes a long way and is as powerful as the first two UGCs mentioned. It complements the other two, and adds another level of trust and transparency to the brand.
Encouraging and magnifying user-generated content tells a story all its own. And the best part? It's a story from your customers or clients that tells others how they feel about your business and your product; how they see it, and how they interpret the message that your business advocates.
#4 Highlight Your Corporate Social Responsibility or Advocacy
There's a thin line between tooting your own horn to look good, and sharing company resources with others while genuinely caring for the people and living things who need special assistance. When you're involved in doing social responsibilities, tell your audience about it.
Only do it, however, if you truly do care about a particular cause. Don't do it for the wrong reasons...
However, showing your target audience and the world that you have a stand on a particular issue shows everyone that you have values and advocacy that you uphold. Consequently, it’s a message that reflects in the products that you sell as well.
#5 Get Meme-ing
There's an underdog among social media marketing methods. I won't ask people to hazard a guess, because I'll come right out and say it anyway...
Ladies and gents, we are living in an age of memes -- the most popular form of expression online and an integral part of pop culture. We'd be fools to ignore this marketing tactic any longer.
There's no long list of reasons for companies to start using memes. In fact, there's probably only two that will sum it up completely.
First, and foremost, memes fit seamlessly into social media platforms so well. They spread like a wildfire -- as a result. Second, humans these days are characterized with short attention spans. A meme's upfront nature makes it the perfect medium for quick consumption.
Memes are like inside jokes everybody wants to be in on. Why is it so popular among brands? The answer is simple; because they drive traffic and engage the target audiences simultaneously.
Make references to popular culture (The Avengers, ridiculous social issues, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, music stars, etc.) tastefully and tactfully, and you'll be surprised at how much people like it -- as long as its really funny and it's something everybody relates to, of course...
There's also inside memes. Jokes that revolve around your niche are a good way to catch your audience's attention.
Just Take It from Influencers
And when you go back to the root of it all, just take the time to learn from the experts of social media influencing and the basics of marketing…
A lot of mega influencers know how to play their marketing games, and how to engage the audience so flawlessly.
By 2019, there will approximately be 2.77 billion social media users worldwide.
84% of consumers make purchases after reading about it (Scrunch).
83% of consumers trust peer recommendations over branded advertising (Nielsen).
They’re not exactly influencers for nothing!
What kind of story do they tell, you ask?
They tell stories of their lives with every social media post. With every life update… In every vlog they do, they tell stories. In some cases, they even stir up drama. And what does the internet do? It consumes it and everybody participates.
I’m not saying you should start a brand scandal or drag an opposing brand to start drama to generate engagement and attention.
The main point I want to drive home is the importance of storytelling…
Telling your brand's stories on social media is commonplace, and it's everywhere! Storytelling is that kind of entertainment format that hasn't diminished in quality (only increased). Moreover, it's transcended time, and will continued to do so in the generations to come.
A lot of brands nowadays understand that a lot, and everyone is called to constantly adapt. So what's the key?
For 2019 and beyond, storytelling on social networks is the thing. And doing it effectively comes with audience research, creativity, and clever strategizing.