The key to success for any marketing effort is the ability to tell a story that your audience is interested in listening to and partaking in. With social media marketing this is even more important for a couple reasons:
- Your audience has more control over the messages that reach them in social media than any other medium
- For a message to resonate it has to be delivered in a way that allows your audience to build their own story around it
- Your audience has to identify with the message in a way that they feel it tells their own network something about them worth sharing
Building a story that reinforces your product’s differentiators, builds advocacy, and encourages engagement all in a way that moves consumers closer to satisfying your business objectives can be a complex task. The trick is to have a solid understanding of how your audience prefers to communicate and understanding how to package your story in the most interesting and impactful way.
New Trends for Storytelling in Social Media
When I hear the term “storytelling” I immediately imagine a lot of text, or a movie. It requires a beginning, middle, and hopefully a happy ending. That’s not really what I’m talking about here. In social media our entire presence is in itself a story of who we are. Status updates, pictures, videos, check-ins and comments all coalesce into the story of who we are and how we want others to perceive us. As social becomes more engrained in how we communicate, we are using less and less text as a means for storytelling. Rather, we are becoming curators of our own lives using data such as pictures, check-ins, and video clips as the core elements for communicating who we are and what we value.
We are moving towards using tools that require the least amount of effort to convey the most powerful message. When you take a step back to look at it, it’s brilliant! We are applying concepts of minimalism in communication and it’s making social networks more rich and easier to consume a large amount of information almost instantaneously.
For examples of what I mean you don’t need to look very far. Niche social networks are capitalizing on this new trend in storytelling and adopting a minimalist approach to communication.
Image Driven Social Networks
- Instagr.am – Integrates two powerful tools for storytelling: pictures and location. By giving people easy access to picture filters and location aware services, users can convey a powerful message with minimal text input as a frame of reference. The image filters allow users the ability to convey an emotion along with the picture and the location adds context.
- Tumblr – The quick rise of Tumblr as a preferred blog network is due to it’s easy to use interface and reliance on pictures to tell stories. If you use the search feature in Tumblr you’ll quickly notice that you begin relying on the images in posts to tell you the story about the topic.
- Pinterest.com – Uses pictures as an almost exclusive means to communicate on then network. Images are organized around topics almost like a virtual scrapbook. This network takes Tumblr’s image-driven communication to the next level and allows minimal text input (much like instagram) with easy searches around topics. Just a warning – this network is addicting!
This trend isn’t coming out of nowhere though. There are a couple trends influencing our new habits for communicating:
- As smartphone adoption continues to climb the quality of cameras on mobile devices is improving greatly
- More of us are accessing our social networks via mobile
- Social network fatigue is putting an emphasis on more streamlined experiences (think of all the changes Facebook has been making)
Tips for Brands
Brands are kind of unwelcome friends in our social media world. If brands want to engage with their audience on the medium they have to be ready to change the way they communicate to align with their expectations. Relying more heavily on images to tell a story can be a powerful way to convey a message in a way that your audience is open to.
I have been experimenting with the idea of storytelling with pictures for Microsoft Tag. Here’s an image I posted that garnered a big reaction from the community:My team has seen a huge boost in our social media presence, particularly on Facebook thanks to a new approach to story telling, coupled with a new content strategy . On Facebook, we have been able to increase engagement over 100%, we are impacting 20% more of our fan base each month thanks to a boost in our EdgeRank and have transformed our presence into a hub for trendspotters interested in the 2D barcode space. All of that has been accomplished in just over a month.