Storytelling and Social Media Marketing: Make the Connection
We are living in the golden age of technology. Whether you own a small business or work in social media marketing, you would know that the complexity of digital marketing requires a person to wear multiple hats. A person who works in SEO is a functioning salesperson just as often as they are a marketing associate or writer. But what about storytelling? Many will say that any success found in the social media marketing spectrum will always root back to concept of good branding. While this is true, it is only partially true. Community management, marketing, SEO…its one thing to present a brand and sell product, but to consistently tell a story (be it graphics, a blog post, or even a witty Instagram caption) is another level of its own.
The point is this: without a brand voice there is no soul within a brand. The brand voice is what forms human connections (and isn’t that what we are, humans?) Good storytelling is what separates the leading competitors from brands that have yet to master the art of transferring analytics into creative, successful strategies. Why should a potential customer switch from their longtime favorites to you? Where can this same customer find proof that your brand is worth attention? Who or what is the customer mostly finding relation with? Is it the product itself? The message? The CEO and their success story? All of this can be answered through storytelling—and you don’t have to write a novel to prove so. Establishing effective storytelling skills within your social media marketing plan can be as simple as determining the tone of dialogueand purpose of a blog post. For example, if the company you work for is based in journalism, you should assume all articles would naturally include primary sources and exclude jargon. If you work in the wellness industry your storytelling skills may often strive to establish more of an emotional connection versus a discreet selling point (though of course, there are also cases where your intention is to achieve both).
In 2018 James Warren, founder and CEO of Share More Stories, offered some valuable advice to Forbes:
‘’Storytelling enables marketers to develop a deeper connection with the audience. Storytelling is a fundamental human experience that unites people and drives stronger, deeper connections. From the earliest recorded history, storytelling was a method used by cavemen to communicate, educate, share, and connect. As an example, think about Suburu’s ads which communicate “love” through a series of ads that establishes the car brand as a symbol of caring for those you love. Whether it’s a father caring for his son or daughter, or a parent caring for their beloved pet, the series of ads are more about what the brand represents to the family than the horsepower that the car delivers.’’
Words have the power to change minds. If your marketing plan fails to reflect your brand’s values and industry, your target audience is bound to question basic things like authenticity and presentation.
To make things a bit easier, here is a list of tips to implement the next time you draft your social media marketing plan:
1) Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. There is always something to learn—so what can they learn from you? Knowledge is only obtainable through experience and information gathering. Sure, there may be words across your social platforms. But what makes this information relevant to a reader, someone who is less aware of your brand? As marketers we should always regard newcomers. You writing should be able to convey enough information to satisfy a stranger yet leave room for curiosity.
2) Understand which social media platforms you’re working with. No, really. Are you able to determine the ‘’nervous system’’ of Twitter and Facebook? The art of writing a caption for Instagram, all while hoping to achieve the goal of getting users to engage in conversation, will not be the same as Twitter. Why? If you think about it, the most obvious factor that separates Instagram and Twitter is the content. Yes, both platforms feature text and images—and even hashtags. The difference is the visual components of these websites. Something that would ‘’work’’ for Instagram is an image that grabs your attention in less than 5 seconds. Therefore the caption is secondary. Twitter, on the other hand, will also favor images. But unlike Instagram, the Tweet is what sells the message. In many cases the Tweet (text) is all you have. This is where storytelling because especially important, as failing to tailor your message can result in lack of discovery, interest, and ultimately a decline of company growth.
3) Understand the different forms of storytelling. Similar to the previous, social media marketing requires us marketers to determine the different avenues of creation. When you create a post, ask yourself which of the five senses you’re mostly dealing with. For example, should a passerby be able to see your billboard from the street? Or should that passerby simply be ‘’convinced’’ by your writing skills? From there, it can be easier to intertwine the brand voice into that specific project.
In all, the connection between social media marketing and storytelling comes down to forming lasting relationships. It’s a given that the exact mechanics of marketing will vary between industry. What every company must accomplish, however, is the common yet not so basic task of translating a message.