“No, no! The adventures first…explanations take such a dreadful time.”- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Effective storytelling is an art form. A wonderful story draws you in, makes you stop what you’re doing and listen eagerly to find out what unfolds next.
You could be drawn to the quirky, future-facing tales of a brand like Apple – who this week topped the list of Interbrand’s 100 Best Global Brands 2013 – Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, or prefer Coca-Cola’s cosy, family-centric narrative. However, telling a seemingly simple, but seriously engaging, story is harder than it looks.
In an age where time is precious and attention spans are short, today’s stories need to grab our attention in the form of a 30 second advertisement, a 140 character tweet or in just three seconds as we drive past a billboard or click on a website. It’s crucial that a company becomes an expert storyteller and fully engages with how its audience sees, hears and responds.
Companies telling their story successfully are using technology such as Twitter, Vine, Snapchat and Instagram to instantly connect with their users. Some brands can create such genuinely compelling stories that people can’t wait to share, comment or retweet them. These are the stories that drive the success of a company, inspire a community of loyal followers and sometimes simply make us gratefully pause and smile in a hectic world.
An example of innovative storytelling is evident in the recent, beautifully shot Airbnb advert. The company used Vine (a six second video tool) to create the ‘Hollywood & Vines’ story. They asked their users to submit their own scripted Vines via Twitter, and artfully edited them to create a story told from the point of view of a paper airplane.
The Airbnb advert works because it doesn’t scream about the company’s product. Instead, the video slowly takes you on a journey.
Five reasons why you need to be able to tell a great story:
1. Brilliant stories drive social media engagement. People always want to share relevant, interesting and funny information.
2. Good stories drive brand loyalty. At the heart of any business is the reason why the business started in the first place. If you can articulate this ‘why’ to your audience, you’ll encourage them to relate to your brand.
3. Innovative narratives will differentiate you from your competitors. If you have a compelling story to tell, customers will remember you in a crowded marketplace.
4. A well-told, consistent story will build a community of loyal customers and referrals. Think about the brands you follow – why do you find them engaging?
5. A good story will enable you to build a diverse product portfolio. If you are known for your values rather than just your products, your customers will trust that you can deliver the same service across multiple industries – look at Virgin and Apple for two excellent examples of this.
Are you ready for an adventure? Your audience is waiting…
So, what’s your story? Share it with us.
Sofarbeyond asked Jennifer Reid – a long time London-based former Vancouverite who specialises in content marketing and social media strategy, what is in her social media toolbox.
#1 in my social tookit: Buffer
Buffer, coined “the smarter way to share on social media” is an online tool that allows you to populate a stream with content that Buffer shares across your social networks at specified times throughout the day (or night).
Why I like it: Because Buffer toolbar enables me to easily share content from different social media platforms and to have it be released according to schedules that I dictate. This way I am seen to be sharing a steady stream of content that gets picked up in more than one time zone. I *especially* love the fact that I can share to Twitter, my LinkedIn newsfeed, LinkedIn Company pages, Google+ pages and Facebook. Buffer saves me a lot of time.
#2 in my social tookit: Bitly
I started using Bitly in 2010 for the sole purpose of shortening long links when tweeting to stay within Twitter’s 140 character limit.
Why I like it: The shortened links, called “Bitmarks” are listed on my Bitly homepage. Like Buffer, Bitly will tell me how many people clicked on the link I shared. But I can also see which sites I’m getting a high click through rate from, and which countries my clicks are originating from. I can also group common Bitmarks and then share them as bundles or email the bundles to people. For example, I could bundle up all the Bitmarks from previously shared blog posts and then send one tweet that points to the whole bundle on my Bitly homepage. Or I could simply email someone the bundle.
#3 in my social toolkit: Storify
Why I like it: I attend a lot of industry events where people are using various social media to comment. Storify enables me to pull together these threads to tell a story and it’s quicker than writing a blog post. Usually my stories consist of tweets from various people. But often the more formal LinkedIn event posts are a great way to begin stories, and if someone takes a video and shares it then you’ve *really* struck gold.
#4 in my social toolkit: StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon is a discovery engine that finds and recommends web content to its users.
Why I like it: Tools like Buffer, Bitly and Storify are distribution and tracking time savers and help stick to my main focus, which is generating content. In the world of social media, you have to stay on top of what’s new and to do that, I find StumbleUpon invaluable. I get weekly customised reading recommendations from the Web.
#5 in my social toolkit: Pocket
Pocket is a way of gathering content from the Web so that I can read it later.
Why I like it: I’d never get my day job done if I just read all my StumbleUpon recommendations, never mind if I followed the vast volume of interesting links I see on social media platforms! Pocket allows me to bookmark everything so that when I am on the train home, I can access all my saved articles from in a beautifully laid out web page.