Social Media and Storytelling – Own the story.

Social Media Marketing

October 27, 2013 by Christian Thomson

We talk a lot about the importance of storytelling when it comes to your company and social media. We’ve moved away from merely blasting out messages, like “buy this NOW and your life will be better” or “Find out why we are THE number 1 plumber in the ENTIRE universe” because let’s face it, it doesn’t work anymore.

Telling your story isn’t just a matter of having something to talk about. There are actually a number of reasons why it makes good sense, and why you should take the time to rethink your online marketing & social media strategy, and begin telling your story.

The best online marketers and communicators have always used storytelling to connect and inspire an audience to act. They have used traditional storytelling structures to share their messages; there’s a beginning, there’s a middle and there’s an end. As storytellers we need to answer these questions. Who is the hero? What is the plot? What is the setting? And, a scary thing for some marketers, what’s the conflict? If you’re telling a story, there’s always a conflict. It’s not always unicorns and rainbows and the hyperbole that lazy marketers often resort to.

Storytelling is in our DNA

Humans think in terms of stories & narratives. This is why we watch television and pay (a lot of) money to go to movies. We like the narrative of a good drama, with tension, conflict, characters, and perhaps even resolution. Our lives are not only one big story, but they are made up of shorter more discrete stories. Linear narratives are much easier for us to process than more abstract depictions. We get asked why Marwick is called Marwick Marketing, is it a family name or a name of a place? Well kind of! if you’re interested read this next.

Stories open us up to critical observation

These are the concepts of transparency and authenticity you hear so much about, especially in Social Media. As we tell our story, we aren’t writing fiction.

As we open ourselves up and share our story, we not only share the triumphs and the good stuff, but we might also share the down times and the warts. If we embellish our story, people might call us out on it. Telling our stories makes us vulnerable. But it is also very freeing.

Stories evoke interest

Remember: telling the truth doesn’t have to be boring. Some of the most compelling movies and books are works of nonfiction. Stories have the ability to move us. You’ve heard the cliche: it made me laugh, it made me cry. Good stories can sweep us along through a wide range of emotions. Some good examples of companies who use storytelling well can be viewed in this recent blog by Katie Petrillo

If content is King, context is the Queen.

Each blog, website page, status update, photo, or video provides a small piece of the puzzle. They are elements of your brands story. But as you put them all together, they give your customers the big picture; the context. How have you responded to changes in your community and culture? What made you start your business in the first place? What changes have you made over the years and why? What needs were you trying to meet, how have those needs changed, and how are you responding?

These are all a part of your story that help others better understand who you are and what you do, and why they should even bother caring about you.

Stories make connections

The best stories are the ones with which we connect; the ones where we can identify with one or more of the characters or the plot line. The ones where we see ourselves as a part of the story, no matter how fantastical it may be. Perhaps you’re a veteran of the American military. That’s a part of your story, and other veterans will see that and it will resonate with them. These connections make the possibility of relationships and community that much more real.

Stories help keep you on track

When we tell our story, it’s not just for our customers and clients. It can be beneficial to us as well. This is why the oral tradition was so important in the days before the printed word; it allowed for people groups to carry on their traditions and remember where they came from. As we tell our own stories it serves as a reminder of our journey and our purpose. It helps us remember how we got where we are, as well as our motivation. It’s far too easy for us to drift off path from our original focus or mission. Our story helps to keep us on track.

Stories are a great form of online marketing

Most of the best online marketing and advertising is a form of storytelling, even if it’s just a 30-second commercial. When we watch television, we avoid the commercials as best we can. Commercials are an intrusion; a reason to leave the room or change the channel. But I bet we’ve all been in that situation where we’ve actually clicked on a commercial that is on Youtube because it is so compelling in some way. Most of the commercials that end up going viral online, the ones that people actually want to watch, have one thing in common: they come in the form of great stories. Some are funny, some are dramatic, some tug on our emotions.