storytelling

If you have not yet embraced storytelling, then you are already behind your competitors, and it is time to catch up.

By Bridgette Hernandez

Consumers are tired. They are tired of companies with hard sells pushing their products and services with disruptive advertising; they are tired of companies touting their products and pushing for sales; they want something different from the brands they choose to patronize.

What do they want? They want to know who they are doing business with; they want to know what a brand stands for; they want to trust that a company cares about them, has real humans at the helm, and that it has a commitment to something bigger than just profits.

How Brands are Responding to this New Environment

Marketing a brand is an entirely different “ball game” now. The environment is consumer-driven, and companies that intend to market to this new consumer must develop strategies that meet their needs.

A key marketing strategy is that of storytelling. If you have not yet embraced this concept, then you are already behind your competitors, and it is time to catch up.

What is Storytelling?

Essentially, storytelling is giving the consumer an experience with your brand – an experience that may include the history of your business, stories of your team, your customers, and events/activities in which you are involved.

All of these things serve to show your business as “human,” as comprised of people and customers who have their own stories to tell, as people to whom consumers can relate.

And who doesn’t love a story? Think back upon your own childhood. You loved bedtime stories; you loved hearing your mother tell you about when you were born and your infant and toddler years. Consumers are no different as adults. The topics of the stories may change, but they still hold the same power.

What Stories Can You Tell?

You have so many, though you may not realize it at first. Think about the following;

  1. How did your business get started? What were you trying to accomplish by starting it? What problems did you think you could solve for people?
  2. Who are the people making up your team? What are their back stories? Their outside interests and activities?
  3. Who are your customers? What stories do they have to tell about their experiences with your brand?
  4. Is your company involved in any events or activities?

All of these things can be stories that you tell on social media – either through text and/or images, or both. How do you do it? Here are some tips that will make your stories “pop” on social media.

1. Post Amazing Images

Images can tell stories as well, if not better, than words. Consider a number of companies that tell their stories through photos – Red Bull sponsors extreme sporting events; Toms Shoes posts photos of its giving programs to the needy in underdeveloped countries; ModCloth posts images of its customers sporting its clothing items; Headbands of Hope tells its stories of giving through photos of children with cancer receiving their headbands.

Your images must have a purpose, and that’s where the storytelling comes in. You don’t just display images of your products – you show people using or benefiting from them. Do you sell outdoor patio and deck furniture? Then solicit photos from customers using your products with short statements. This provides social proof and authenticity that act as recommendations for your brand.

2. Words are Important Too

When you post images, spend some time creating compelling and engaging written content to accompany them. If creative writing is not your thing, then get some professional help from freelancers or writing services.

Your images may simply need captions; they may need more explanation. And text can provide just the right context for the story you are telling.

3. Unveil Your Story with a Great Hook

Journalists understand this. They write nothing but stories – news events, human interest, etc. They know that they can capture their audiences with an amazing headline that hooks their readers in and “forces” them to read on. They just can’t resist. And then, the first sentence or two grabs them even further – it may be a startling statistic, an inspirational quote, or a short anecdote. But the goal is always to “bait” the reader.

If you want social media followers to read and share your stories, you must do the same. Entertain and inspire them.

4. Use Your Customers and Your Team Members

This has already been mentioned, but it is worth repeating. When actual customers can tell their stories, they become proof that your brand is authentic, valuable, and trustworthy. As Neightan White, contributing blogger for Supreme Dissertations, puts it, “Client experiences with our brand tell our stories for us. We solicit images and words that relate their successes and publish them on our social platforms. This is the best marketing tool we have.”

Likewise, your team members will help personalize your brand. When you can feature them in action, working together and having a good time, followers can relate. It’s a work environment that everyone wants and enjoys seeing.

5. Consider a Mascot

There is a reason why Geico has its gecko, why Progressive has Flo, and Aflack has its duck. And if you have kept up with their marketing strategies, you know that they tell stories through those mascots. The gecko travels all over; Flo interacts on a personal level with customers; and the duck even got injured, and consumers followed his healing progress. All of these “stories” appear not just on TV commercials but on social platforms too – each of these mascots has its own social media pages with large followings.

6. Get a Cause

Nothing grabs an audience more than seeing a brand involved in social causes and making a difference. Whether that cause is local, national, or international, the stories that you tell about your involvement and sponsorship make you memorable and valuable to today’s consumer who wants to see companies that reach beyond sales and profit.

Post photos and videos of your involvement.

7. Tell Your Own Story

How did you come to start your business? What problem are you solving for your target audience? And if you can use humor or provide inspiration while you tell that story, all the better.

Michael Dubin and Mark Levine, founders of Dollar Shave Club understood this. For $2500, they created a video telling their story in a hysterical way. If you have not viewed this video, you must.

What’s Your Story?

You have many. It may take some time to identify them and then to develop the methods to tell them to your audience on social media. But if you dig into your uniqueness, into your own brand story, into the stories of your customers, into the stories of your social involvement, you will find them. Then, it is a matter of translating them into educational, entertaining, or inspiring content for others to come to know and trust you.

Bridgette Hernandez holds a Masters degree in Anthropology. She has an abiding interest in societies, their values, heritages, and cultural mores. In addition to having completed a soon-to-be-published book, Hernandez is a frequent contributor to blogs and a freelancer for a number of sites, including Hot Essay Service and Grab My Essay.

Storytelling stock photo by bombermoon/Shutterstock