Imagine social media is a bookstore and your brand one of a hundred books sitting on a shelf, waiting to attract passing browsers. Only that’s just it- you can’t afford to wait.
Just like books, every brand has its own story to tell and engaging customers in your brand story is one of the most powerful things you can do. Social network users are naturally receptive to stories, which present products and services in a human context that encourages them to connect with your brand on a personal level.
Customer Storytelling: More about the ‘Why’ than the ‘What’
Stories demonstrate how products make customers feel, how services slot into their daily lives and how all this allows them to form an affinity with a brand over time. The focus is therefore less on the “what” (what a product does and what the price is) and more on the “why” (why existing customers opted for that product and why they have remained faithful to the brand).
Of course, prospects benefit from the product-specific expertise provided by sales and marketing teams. But purchasing decisions are also context-dependent, which means consumers want to hear from the people who use those products on a daily basis. After all, existing customers can provide unique, relatable insights that marketing teams might never have thought of.
Consider sites like TripAdvisor, Amazon and Airbnb; customer reviews play a huge role in their marketing and sales activity and have an equally significant impact on brand credibility. On social networks, the same applies; whether it takes the form of written reviews, selfie competitions or hashtag campaigns, involving customers in your marketing and communication efforts is an incredibly effective way of boosting trust in your brand and attracting new leads.
Social Media…Otherwise Known as Storyland
Social media has always been the land of storytelling; it is where users share life experiences through content, photos and videos, as well as the resulting conversations. Social networks are therefore perfectly suited to brand storytelling, as they allow you to engage in a wealth of interaction that is already taking place, connect directly with consumers and showcase real-life experiences of your brand.
Customer storytelling also has the advantage of eliciting emotional reactions and driving desired behavior. Seeing a photo, video or post in which a product is discussed by real people allows prospects to relate that content to what’s going on in their own lives, and can ultimately lead them to click through to product pages. Whether motivated to get involved in an enticing competition, intrigued by their friends’ sharing activity or drawn in by a viral hashtag, more and more consumers are engaging with brands and making purchasing decisions based on storytelling initiatives.
A Great Brand Story: Happily Ever After?
A narrative thread can exist for a brand just as it does for any story. But where brand storytelling differs from many (though not all) great literary sagas is that it should never deliver complete closure. After all, your brand is no closed book; it is open-ended, forever developing. So while customer storytelling must be used to showcase how your products solve problems and enhance customers’ lives, you must always leave a little room on the page for the next installment. Like any great storyteller, you must leave your audience wanting more.