Humans love telling and hearing stories. From children’s nursery rhymes to week-long box-set binges. Stories define who we are and how we understand the world. And that is why storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into a brand. It helps give products and services an identity.
Many think marketers have always been storytellers and that they truly understand what it takes to create an emotional, authentic connection in the stories they tell. Maybe, but the world of marketing and storytelling has entered a new era.
The traditional sales funnel has been circumvented by consumers’ use of social media channels to interact with brands. And social media and messaging services such as Snapchat and Instagram have risen to prominence in recent years, launching tools such as Instagram Stories.
Instagram launched Instagram Stories in August 2016. By the end of 2017 the service had in excess of 300 million daily users. An impressive metric that also explains how social has changed the pace and depth of storytelling and has become central to effective marketing in 2018. This new era of social storytelling means a brands’ fans and customers now get to engage with the company in a far more emotionally entertaining and informative way.
So, what are three simple steps marketers can take to tell their story and connect with their audience in this new world in a credible, interesting and believable way?
Brand marketing is no longer about long, general, anonymous stories about the company. Instead it is about quirky stories about the brand, about the people working in the company and about the customers.
For stories to stimulate strong feelings and inspire the imagination, there has to be a strong connection between the teller and the audience. Take the Gatorade campaign that offered a special filter that simulated Gatorade being poured onto your head (Gatorade baths are synonymous with winning.). The feature was popularized by tennis legend Serena Williams, and the campaign let fans experience the joy and have a ton of fun.This type of lively social storytelling helps set brands apart from their competition. The story has to be based in reality – and it also has to be delivered, or told, in a way that is entertaining, engaging and memorable.
Stories can be told in multiple visual and interactive ways, using new technology tools such as Snapchat Filters or Instagram Stories. This means that more often than not the focus is using imagery, video and interactive features to tell your story, instead of (too many) words.
For example, don’t forget about the value of b-roll content. If your story is set in a restaurant, you should mix in clips of people having dinner and the food to add context and depth to your social story and adventure. Offer consumers a visual layer of information that doesn’t need to be explained through words.
Brands have long been judged on authenticity, but they have never found their stories so shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of everyday people. With that in mind, brands should not waste time and effort in manufacturing a so-called authentic brand story. Instead look internally and invest in employees and empower them to share their stories.
Overall, remember to focus on the stories that your fans want to hear, and tell the best stories about the people and situation behind your company’s services and products. That way, you grab your audiences’ attention, provoke their interest and convert them to action.