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Social Storytelling – Why You Need to Use it

The game has changed. No longer can we push out broadcast sales messages. Over 90% of our audience does not want to hear our marketing. With so much time pressure and with so much content that can be consumed, people are becoming selective with what they are engaging with.

They have taken control of how they consume their content. Instead we need to capture their attention by providing content that captures their imagination and entices them to engage… and keep engaging.

Brand storytelling is a great way to do this. Through the ages, people have learnt about the world around them through storytelling. Tribes would pass information from generation to generation by telling stories. Even now in this modern time, there is nothing like sitting around a campfire and sharing stories. Similarly, this love of storytelling, when done correctly, can help us share our brand stories with our audience and help them to not only connect with us but also build trust. And trust leads to loyalty and commitment to our brand.

So what are some tips for telling your brand’s story?

1. Be authentic – Don’t try to be someone else or be like another brand. Capture the essence of who you are as a company and be true to it. If you are fun loving, bring that out in how you tell your story. Richard Branson has definitely knocked that element of out the park and that flows throughout the Virgin group of companies. When I am speaking, I ask groups to tell me what words describe Virgin, and words such as cheeky or fun loving are used. This becomes part of Virgin’s brand story and when we are dealing with them, we expect at little more of a fun and relaxed interaction that we would if we were interacting with a company like QANTAS.

2. Make your story interesting – Being vanilla does not get you anywhere – you are definitely not memorable. To compete with all that noise out there and capture your audience's attention, you need to capture their interest. Red Bull does this well. Remember when Felix Baumgartner participated in the Red Bull Stratos project in which he set the world record for skydiving? Red Bull’s You Tube video of that event has been watched over 39 million times. Not many companies can get that kind of engagement by just talking about their brand. Red Bull’s brand story is all about adrenaline and extreme sports and shares stories like this to appeal to their target market.

3. Follow the tried and true method of storytelling – all good stories have a beginning, middle and an end. Think about your favourite story. It starts by setting the scene, then building up to a climax and then giving a resolution. The Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign does a beautiful job of storytelling. Dove could just have said “our soap makes you feel beautiful” but that message would have been lost in the noise. Instead they created a 6 minute video that takes the viewer on a journey where not only do they see how the women in the video discover their beauty, it helps them recognise their own beauty. It harnesses emotion in a way only telling a story can. I know of women who have cried watching this video. This video has had over 6 million views. That is the power of storytelling.

4. Keep them coming back for more – Telling your brand story is not just something that you do once. It is something that is constantly evolving. Think about how you can take your audience on a journey and engage them with a series of stories. For example, you could put together a series of videos that includes a “to be continued” element. That way you audience wants to keep coming back for more to find out what happens. You could even create a sequence of Facebook ads that tells your story in images.

By keeping your audience engaged and continually exposing your brand to them, you are helping them build a relationship with them, that relationship then build trust and the likelihood of purchasing from you climbs.

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