I remember my favorite childhood story – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Of course, many more stories have captured my attention since then. And we all like a good story.
Stories have now crept into marketing and advertising with increasing frequency. If you still watch television, for example, you have probably seen stories of Progressive Insurance Company’s Flo, or Afleck’s Duck, or Geico’s gecko. They even have their own social media pages.
Speaking of Social Media
Most of us have personal media pages with news feeds that are updated almost minute-by-minute. When you access your page, you scroll down, probably read short posts from friends and family.
But then come all of those ads – if you have searched for items online; if you have accessed a website looking at products or services, all of a sudden you are inundated with their marketing posts. How do you feel about that?
Chances are, you find them irritating and a bit intrusive. You scroll past them, often choose to hide them and check those boxes so you won’t see them again.
Don’t be like those advertisers. Don’t be that company that irritates its contacts.
You can bring something fresh to the table. You can use storytelling to engage your contacts and leads. Tell stories rather than advertise. Let your brand be the one that prefers to entertain, inspire, and occasionally educate through storytelling. You can still establish brand awareness but in an enjoyable way.
How-To Guide for Storytelling
Every story you have read has certain elements. Before you craft your story, jot down the elements. This will provide an outline for what you will ultimately produce.
Keep these three elements in mind as you think about the stories you have to tell that relate to your brand.
You may have a single character like Flo from Progressive and minor characters that “support” the story.
The character may be you as the founder of your company, telling your story or something else about yourself.
The characters may be your amazing team in your work setting or involved in some event
The character may be a customer who is thrilled with your product or service.
You need to have a point to the story, and that point is made through the plot. Jot down the plot sequence.
Suppose you are telling the story of why and how you founded your company. List the points you will include in that plot.
Perhaps your company has participated in an event. What was the event? How did you make the decision to participate? What was your participation from beginning to end?
If you are focusing on a customer, how did that customer come to you? What problem was the customer looking to solve through your product or service?
Is your business successful? Did the event end well? How did your team feel about its participation? Is the customer happy with the product or service purchased?
Some Examples of Brand Stories
Headbands of Hope: A For-Profit Company with a Cause
following a college internship, determined to go into a business that would in
some way serve children battling cancer. She founded Headbands of Hope, a
company that originally sold headbands with a one-to-one business model.
For every headband sold, one would be donated to a child who has lost her hair as a result of cancer treatment, and $1 would be donated to children’s cancer research. The producing line has expanded, but the original mission has remained the same. The products are also now sold in retail stores. The stories of how the company was founded, of children who have been recipients of headbands,
A typical Facebook post:
There is a strong human need to “do good,” and any company that can support a worthy cause will have lots of stories to tell about that support.
Red Bull – Extreme Energy and Sports
Red Bull has many stories to tell, primarily because it sponsors so many extreme sporting events.
And this example also shows that stories are
often told via video. This particular post got 48m likes:
A Retro Millennial Women’s Clothing Line
Here is a site that heavily focuses on customer
stories. From this, you can see that stories need not be long – they can be
short snippets of a customer’s experience:
What stories might your customers have that you can post? Probably many.
Story Marketing Strategies
Your brand has its own stories. Start developing a list of them as well as ideas for future stories.
Here are the types of stories that will personalize your brand, demonstrate the value of your product or service, and build trusting relationships with consumers.
Your Customer Testimonials
No one really wants to read customer testimonials that are published on websites. Consumers are suspicious of them.
But they will not be suspicious of a “testimonial” that is accompanied by a photo or video of a customer telling his/her story. This is powerful social proof, especially considering that about 75% of consumers do listen to word-of-mouth recommendations.
Solicit stories from your customers, and provide an incentive for them doing so.
Featuring Your Team
This was mentioned above, and, again, this type of storytelling humanizes your brand. People relate to other people far more than they do to still images of products.
Group shots all by themselves tell a story without any words – this is why Instagram is utilized by so many brands. It is a visual platform, and consumers prefer visuals to words.
You don’t always have to tell stories about your founding. Give followers a peek into your “other” life – hobbies, activities, your dog, etc.
You begin to look like everyone else, and that’s a good thing.
Types of Content for Social Media Storytelling
You have two options – text and visual.
If you plan to use text in your storytelling, then you need to be a creative storyteller. It’s tough to hold engagement with words. You probably know this, at least from the boring stories and novels you may have been forced to read as a student.
Journalists are good storytellers. They know how to capture attention with stunning headlines and ledes, by breaking up stories into little chunks and by covering all of the above-mentioned elements.
Here, you can tell stories in such a large number of ways.
Become a Storyteller
Creating engaging stories is actually fun. And as you get more accustomed to crafting those tales, you will come to be a better storyteller and enjoy it more.