Marketers need to stop talking about “social media” and start telling stories
I had a breakthrough recently, and this is a big one. Everyone’s talking about social media but there are very few brands that understand how to really connect with their community in compelling ways. I recently met Melea Seward of Chief Amusement Designer. Malea takes storytelling, and really how a brand connects with real people, to a whole new level. The takeaway: Marketers need to stop talking about “social media” and start telling stories.
Storytelling is a powerful and simple way to more effectively connect with your audience. People may not remember what you want to get across, but they will remember a story. For those of you in travel, this is huge. Who does’t like to talk (or brag) about travel experiences? Memories matter to people. By pulling out nuggets of experiences from your community and their own personal stories, you will keep people engaged and more likely to share with their friends. By letting social strategy become the focus of your plan, you will be relevant, stay top of mind and be remembered.
Here are my tips for connecting with your community:
1. Social media is about “We”. Avoid pushing brand messages to social networks – it’s not about your brand, it’s about how they experience it and what makes it meaningful to them. Learn to start conversations and respond to them. Gather stories. Make it less about you and more inclusive at the same time. It is never about the brand – it’s always about people.
2. Keeping the conversation going. You don’t want people to see your Facebook page as ‘just another page’. Status updates should not be about what you are doing now. They should add to a continuous story that keeps people engaged. Watch your Newsfeed closely for clues. Try asking your community to do something, and for best results, make it time based – this helps to create urgency. Status updates do not have to be long. Sometimes one word is more effective.
3. Tell stories – all the time. Tell stories about your customers, your clients, even personal situations that people can relate to. An individual’s story is incredibly powerful. Why do you think charities focus on telling one person’s story? People can’t relate and won’t respond to numbers, statistics, but they will react to a personal story that they can relate to. Talk about your clients, how amazing they are. Let social strategy lead your marketing/PR efforts.
4. Take away the abstraction and make it real. Get good at storytelling, really paint the picture in your stories and pretend your words describe what a camera would see. Add color and dig deep into a personal story that shows the brand in the best possible way. Even better, have someone else tell it for you.
5. Be creative. There are 8 ways to talk about 1 blog post. Try sending tweets several times with different copy to see what people react to.
6. Pay attention to what is going on. Research what people are talking about and how can you tap into it. Be aware of trending topics on Twitter and major events. Go through LinkedIn answers look for questions that have been asked to find out what people are talking about.
7. Brand should think about what is a high priority in their customer’s lives Even if it has nothing to do with that you are selling, the customer knows you get them. i.e. You may be selling travel but if you find out they have a high interest in dogs then perhaps a fun doggie quiz is in order, to complement any other quiz you are sending.
8. Involve your audience. Make a habit of asking people what they want to see. It is a good idea to crowdsource for ideas and even website improvement e.g: Netflix.
9. Identify your biggest challenge and flip it. You can make your challenge the centerpoint of your story. People will remember it when it is explained as a story. This is a biggie, you may need to dig deep and really think about how you can reverse misperceptions about your brand through stories.
10. Give tweetable copy. Make it super easy for people to tweet by giving them tweetable copy. This also means that they will tell the story the way you want it told. Give people stories to tell, make it easy for them and they will respond.
Here are some quick case studies that are impressive:
Boycott a Meeting Day: Create a fun and unexpected way to attract attention. Ie. Liking the Boycott a meeting day website to promote a book. 37Signals used it as a fun way to promote and drive traffic to their new book ReWork.
The Story of Stuff Project: This is a great example of telling a story that is powerful but gets people to watch long enough to understand the message. What could be overwhelming and complicated is simplified and messages are easy to understand, entertaining and shareable.
Toyota “Auto-biographies”: Last year Toyota encouraged owners of its cars to share personal stories about their vehicles on Facebook called “Auto-Biography.” They also released eight spots on Facebook and YouTube, which showcased people, telling inspiring and just entertaining stories about their Toyota models. They were able to prove that despite the recallsToyota still has a plenty of loyal consumers.
Blu Dot, The Real Good Experiment: This campaign was genius! Blu Dot placed 25 chairs around the streets of Manhattan tagged with GPS devices and was able to create 25 highly interesting stories. They asked themselves a simple question and the answer came from this clever experiment: If good design can go anywhere, where exactly will it go? After placing the chairs all over NYC, they used an undercover documentary film team to film them when they found them. As we all know, what is dumped on the streets of NYC is taken within about 20 seconds. The two-day social media experiment comprised of real-time online GPS tracking, live Twitter and Flickr feeds, and a follow-up documentary film that included the stories of those who took the chair home. The film was aired at Blu Dot’s 1st Anniversary party for their SoHo store in 2009.
What do you think is a good example of storytelling and social strategy? Let’s discuss! Please post your thoughts below.