July 08, 2014
We no longer live in a broadcast age. That means you can’t just buy people’s attention—it must be earned. And the best way to earn it in an era where most messages are ignored is to tell a good story. No matter what medium you use, a good story is authentic and creative, provokes an emotional connection, takes people on a journey, and inspires action. But with social media, it’s also important to know what will prompt people to share your story with their social networks. It usually boils down to one or more of the following reasons:
- Bringing valuable or entertaining content to others
- Defining ourselves to others
- Growing relationships
- Spreading the word about causes or brands we care about
If you have a worthwhile story that people will want to share, then you have the foundation in place. You now need to make it come alive in social media. Here are three ways to do it.
- LET THE IMAGE SPEAK FOR ITSELF
There’s a reason that people still preach the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s the same reason that visually focused social networks like Pinterest and Instagram are enjoying explosive growth: people respond well to the photos, illustrations, and other images. And, as more people are consuming content on mobile devices, an image is easier and more compelling to digest than a paragraph.
Who does it well: Charity Water
How they do it: Every image reiterates the emotional thread of the brand’s higher purpose, even as it tells the unique narrative of a village or individual benefiting from the organization’s latest work.
Why it works: We relate to images in a way that’s sometimes more emotional and immediate than other forms of communication—especially when they’re consumed and shared via social media.
- FACILITATE “IN-REAL-LIFE” CONNECTIONS
This is simply bridging the gap from the digital world to real life. We so often focus on the digital connections that social media bring, but there’s immense power in driving physical, or “in real life,” connections as well.
How they do it: You’ve just got to watch the video.
Why it works: Duracell delivers a bigger message here—a moment of warmth, powered by you—which has broader appeal than hard-selling “the copper top.”
- TELL A COLLECTIVE STORY
Generally, telling a story implies broadcasting a message. But social media make it easy for brands to engage their audiences as co-authors. If the stage is set properly, the story becomes a curated collection of mini-stories, created in the moment by users. As a bonus, the audience ends up highly invested in the brand.
How they do it: The entire campaign is based on user-generated content and draws on serious hometown pride. It’s a living, breathing, ever-changing thing that people from all over the city take ownership of. And anyone can participate—there are no prerequisites.
Why it works: The organization has focused on building the framework and providing the inspiration. They don’t try to control or manipulate the story, because the story isn’t just theirs to tell.
Your current marketing efforts may be selling you short. To be a brand worth engaging with, you must have a story worth telling. By tapping into social media, you’ll convey a story that’s deeper and richer. You’ll forge connections and create insights that aren’t possible with other channels. And ultimately, you’ll help your brand rise above the noise in the marketplace.