When was the last time you read, heard or viewed a compelling brand story?
Every single day, we are inundated with hundreds and thousands of itsy bitsy stories. Served in bite-sizes, these seemingly endless anecdotes reach us through our ubiquitous digital devices.
From blog posts to Facebook photos, 140 character Tweets to 15 second Instagram videos, every piece of published content says something about your brand.
Like newspapers, magazines, television, and radio, the best stories on social media are distinctive and memorable. Unlike traditional media, however, social brand storytelling comes with its own unique guidelines.
How can your brand weave a compelling and enchanting story on social media? What can you do to rise against the seemingly endless competition for your customer’s attention?
1) Start with “Why”
The first thing you need to get right is what Simon Sinek calls your “Why”. That would be the purpose, cause or belief of your organisation which drives what you do.
Often, the “Why” of a business is closing linked to the life dream of the entrepreneur who started the venture. It is the raison d’etre or reason for being – the very heart and soul of the organisation.
By mining your “Whys”, you are able to flesh out your vision, mission and values. These form the basic scaffold for your brand story.
2) Understand your social context
Once you have got your purpose worked out, you need to understand the unique contexts of your brand story.
There are several elements involved in analysing one’s context, and they include the following:
Geography – where is the location of your business?
Culture – what are the cultural contexts of your surroundings?
News and Events – are there significant events that influence your business?
Seasonality – is your business affected the time and date of the year?
Socio-politics – are there any societal or political influences on your business?
Technology – what kind of platforms or devices would your audience use to access your content?
3) Know your audience
Next, study your audiences and determine the best way to reach them with your brand story. There are several things to note here:
Demographics – What are their ages, sex, incomes, education levels, housing types, ethnicities, and other similar factors?
Psychographics – What drives their attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviours? What interests do they have?
Content habits – How do they consume digital content? Would they prefer to read, view a video, or listen to an audio recording?
Platform and channel preferences – Which social channels or digital devices would work better?
4) Develop “social-friendly” plots
To succeed in brand storytelling on social media, you need to involve your audience as much as possible. Unlike traditional media channels, social media is valued for its ability to encourage engagement and interactivity between users.
Craft snackable and shareable vignettes which fit under an overarching narrative rather than a long and continuous epic.
Think of it less like “War and Peace” (or “Odyssey”), and more like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” storybook, with multiple possible endings depending on the choices your audience makes.
5) Identify everyday brand heroes
Successful brands like Apple, Nike and Harley Davidson do not just belong to the companies who own them. Instead, such brands are co-owned by customers, employees, distributors and other stakeholders in the value chain.
To resonate with these audiences, your brand story must be populated by characters that they can connect with. These “heroes” should be the very people who eat, live and breathe the essence of your brand.
6) Demonstrate how challenges are overcome
Everybody loves stories with elements of danger and conflict. Like the proverbial prince who slayed the evil dragon, your brand story needs to also showcase how such obstacles and barriers are surmounted.
In brand storytelling, such challenges should be current and relevant to your audiences. They could be anything from the difficulties faced by your company’s founders in starting the firm from scratch to the complexities involved in creating a new high quality product.
7) Inject drama and plot twists
Nobody enjoys listening to a “ho-hum” story where everything is just plain sailing.
Even Superman has his Kryptonite!
In a similar fashion, find some way to introduce new and refreshing twists to your story. While it needn’t be as dramatic as a fatal glowing green crystal, it is still useful to inject that hint of uncertainty to keep your audiences spellbound.
8) Tap the reservoir of human emotions
The greatest stories are those which scale the heights of human emotions. They could be anything from joy, love, sadness, anger, betrayal to laughter.
Unlike a 400 page novel, social media stories need to hit the feels fast.
Here, photos and videos triumph over text. Through the right blend of visuals, text and captions, unearth deep rooted feelings that exist in your audiences and flesh them out.
The greater your ability to touch the heart, the better.
9) Use multiple media formats
The best stories in the digital age are told across multiple platforms and channels, while linked by an inter-related narrative.
Also known as transmedia storytelling, telling your story across multiple media formats like blog posts, videos, infographics, slide shares, and photos adds freshness and depth to your brand.
Naturally, this depends on what your audience is comfortable with. While B2C consumer brands may benefit from highly visual and less text-heavy formats, B2B brands may require their stories to be told with more depth.
10) Choose the right social channels
Last, but certainly not least, you need to ensure that the form of your brand story can fit the social channel selected.
Each and every social media channel – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google Plus, YouTube, and Pinterest – have their unique characteristics.
For example, you can’t share a super long infographic on Facebook or Twitter. Similarly, white papers or research reports may work well for professional social networks like LinkedIn, while image-heavy content may suit Instagram or Pinterest better.
To learn more about what works and what doesn’t on individual social networks, do read my blog post on Gary V’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
Are there other points which we should take note of in brand storytelling on social media? I would love to hear your thoughts.
PS – If you need an experienced marketer and brand communicator to craft your brand stories on social media, feel free to drop me an email or leave your particulars and message in our contact form. I will be most happy to share my insights with you.