Our brains are wired to deal with information in a cause-and-effect narrative. It’s how we figure out our actions and decisions. Think about how we share information with friends. You won’t believe what happened at the office. There was this drama, that happened and that’s how it was resolved. Or, I met this girl, I tried to get her number, we went out, that’s what happened.
A story is a way of turning boring information into something that is engaging; something that really matters to an audience, something that touches on their emotions. It’s the complete opposite of ‘so what’.
So what your restaurant serves 16 kinds of hamburgers? Big deal. But show me what happened when you put all 16 hamburger fillings on ONE burger…and some crazy dude ate it all. Now that will make me click. Or how you can make the skinniest hamburger while keeping all of the flavour? Or how you served 50 burgers every week to different people in need. The emotions touched on could be humour, pride, curiosity or empathy.
There are as many genres of stories as there are categories on Netflix. Humour is always popular but not all brands can be super funny. To know what your story is, you need to know what your brand story is. This starts with having a value proposition (your space in the market that is different from competitors), a brand positioning (how you want to be perceived in the minds of consumers) and a tone of voice (how you sound/write when you address customers).
Work with a copywriter to get this right. They are not just wordsmiths – they are expert researchers and skilled at understanding what makes your target market tick and what kind of messaging they would respond to.
Next, you should decide on a narrative arc – the path your story will follow. A story arc is the backbone of what you want to tell customers – the beginning, middle, and end.
Okay we get how this can be confusing. You’ve just been telling me I should tell a story…but not? The point to remember is that you should be as impactful as possible with your message. Less is more. This means investing in quality brand photography of your team or products using video marketing or creating a visually striking infographic.
Let’s face it – not everyone was born to be a writer. Plus you are busy running your business – much as you’d love to create stories yourself, you probably just don’t have the time. Rather brief a copywriter to come up with the most succinct and catchy ways of highlighting your product features through a creative campaign, video script or social media campaign.
Love the way certain people speak to their audience? Or how a like-minded brand runs their campaigns? No harm in teaming up with them to tell your story. Influencers have an engaged audience already, while another brand could open yours up to new opportunities.
Another great feature of social media is how you can very easily see which posts performed the best in terms of likes or engagement. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Do more of what worked, whether it’s a funny haiku, meme or heartfelt personal story. The important thing is for engagement to be a two-way street, in other words, to have a community management plan in place so no comment or question goes unanswered.
Figure out what is really important to your audience or why exactly your product matters to them, and see how you can tap into that. For example, you might be selling a carpet cleaning business but what really matters to a homeowner are bragging rights of a beautifully decorated home, or a mom worrying about her toddler’s allergies.
People love brands with strong values, which usually comes from the people behind the scenes. If the environment or animal rights are things you feel passionate about, consider doing some good and telling stories of what your company does to help out these causes.
Social media was made for storytelling and offers many tools to show off the authenticity of your brand – especially the ‘go live’ function. The great news is that you don’t need to do very polished videos here – as long as the story you are telling is compelling, you’re good to go!
Here are some specific ideas for Instagram and Facebook.