Marketing guru Seth Godin is known for saying “marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but the stories you tell”.
So what if I told you there was no problem with your product? Instead, the problem was the way you talked about your product?
Now, before you think I’m going to tell you something fanciful about storytelling, the fact is that our brains become more active when we tell stories.
No kidding — your brain is programmed to recognise patterns of information (human faces, letters, music notes) and assign them meaning.
Stories, too, are recognisable patterns, and we use them to find meaning in the world around us. We see ourselves in them, and the stories we hear become personal to us.
It’s no longer if storytelling works, it’s about how to use it to build brand awareness and stand out on social media.
We’re in a time where social media is incredibly noisy, and brands have to constantly find new ways to be seen, heard and loved.
Wanna know how to harness the power of storytelling?
1. Get clear on your brand story
How did your business come to be? What pissed you off enough to make you invent a better way? The world’s leading brands show their customers how they can be a better version of themselves — because the founders have been there before (and know it sucked).
The role of your brand story is to connect the customer’s story with your story.
For example, eyewear brand Warby Parker tells their brand story wonderfully.
Tips for writing and fine-tuning your brand story
- Go back to the origin of how your business came about and hash it all out. The good, the bad, and the exciting parts. Then cull and tweak as necessary thinking about where your customer’s pain-points fit within your story
- Write a short paragraph about why your company exists. This is about knowing your purpose and will serve as a guiding light to business and brand-led decisions
- Inject tone, personality and voice in the delivery of your story.
2. Know your audience
Ugh, I know this one is so basic, but so many brands get this wrong. It’s not just about creating a customer avatar and demographics — I’m talking about the psychographics.
What are their thoughts and beliefs? What do you know about their daily lives? What are their hobbies? How do they consume media? What situations will they relate to?
Continue to ask these questions until you can envision your ideal customer in your mind. Be specific when it comes to describing this ideal person. Ultimately you want to know how your brand can be a solution to their problems or simplify their lives because people buy emotionally and justify things rationally.
Great Jones is creating the millennial answer to stodgy kitchenware. The storytelling in their content is fresh, speaks to their audience and is engaging.
3. Tell a story through every social media post
Every piece of content you share, no matter how simple or small, is a way to reinforce the story you’re communicating. Doing so builds credibility for your brand and makes your content relevant.
Here’s how to keep your content feeling fresh.
- Identify three main themes from your overarching story. Warby Parker’s is style without compromising quality, supporting the underdog and doing good.
- Choose your visual content wisely by ensuring it’s on-brand.
- Repurpose user-generated content to reinstate your story. Why? Because the only thing better than telling a story is having your audience tell it for you!
- Ask yourself the following: ‘Is it on brand? How do I want people to feel when they see/read it?’
4. Show up consistently
If content is king, consistency is queen.
You have to show up on social media day-in-day-out for your brand. As former Disney chief Michael Eisner wonderfully put it: “Your brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time…the product of a thousand small gestures.”
Build a content strategy around your story and stick with it. Patience and consistency are key.
5. Stand for something
As your audience has grown confidence in expressing their thoughts and opinions more loudly, brands need to know what their audience believes in and have values that stand for something.
Things to consider.
- Your brand’s stance on political, environmental and gender roles.
- Your brand’s values.
- Ways to be active in social listening, not just on your own channels, but on social media pages that discuss taboo, controversial and political issues. By doing so you can gain insight and act on opportunities.
It’s tempting to create a perfected version of your story without the trials and tribulations — but that’s what makes it interesting!
But the barriers to entry are lower than ever — essentially anyone can create a brand on Instagram.
So, if you want to thrive and stand out, you need to believe in something, tell an emotive story, and do with conviction consistently over time — because, amongst all the noise, those are the brands that win!