When it comes to storytelling it was Christopher Booker that believed there are only seven stories anyone could ever tell. They have all been repeated over and over again – how many times do we need to see the protagonist journey to a foreign land, overcome a major threat then return a changed person?
It gets stale. The same can be applied to brand stories. Strategies revolve around brands re-telling their stories and with so many versions going around, it is easy to forget why one brand is more special than the other. We turn off as consumers and it reinforces that we are at the end of the one-way communication storytelling model from brands.
We all readily engage with a compelling brand “story”, and with the social media tools and mobile devices at our disposal, everyone is able to add to a brand story. For an effective campaign, it’s not only about producing an authentic, engaging story retold – it is allowing others to add to your story.
For consumers, one hashtag on Instagram can engender millions of contributions to the story being re-made in a different way to one the brand is trying to tell. It can enhance the story or radically change the story. Whichever, it flies in the face of trying to control a “content marketing strategy” and it is the art of story-making not storytelling
The art of story-making as a marketing skill is the ability to let storytelling become a collaborative process with many contributing to the re-telling of the story. As consumers, it comes naturally to us to enjoy playing a part in the story, to play a part in something bigger. We share experiences with others, adding more weight to the story. This is when story-making happens; it becomes the magic in a highly successful campaign.
For marketing campaigns to truly succeed nowadays, its not just about content strategy (the new term being thrown around with no substance), the need to enable collaborative story re-telling to make a story is important. However, a note of caution; if the story is not authentic in the first place, this strategy will back fire and break a story as opposed to make a story.
We all have the tools to be able to make the story that is being told, through social and digital media. While it feels “scary” for brands to let go and involve consumers this way, it will happen regardless of what controls brands try to implement. So you may as well get smart about it and invite the consumer into your story-making.
If you believe that the best literature can stand the test of time, then let your brand do the same. If Booker’s theory is to be believed, there are only seven stories that have ever been told – with the advent of digital communications, we have the ability not to be limited and to make a hundred new stories by implementing a story-making strategy as your content plan.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.