9 ways to boost your brand through online storytelling

Promoting your organization on social media? Employ a compelling narrative that focuses on current and prospective customers to engage and expand your audience.

Remember how captivating a good story was when you were a kid?

Nothing could beat that “edge of your seat” feeling while you were waiting for your mother or father to reveal the fate of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin. You felt connected to those far-away, imaginary characters because of the power of a good narrative.

With age, our connection to those characters might fade, but our appreciation of a good story certainly does not.

To illustrate the importance of contextualizing your brand in a narrative, let’s say your friend just bought a new product that they love. They probably wouldn’t show up at your door and read you a sales script about how much they’re enjoying the product.

Instead, your friend would probably give you some background about the purchase decision, then tell you about the product before recommending that you buy one of your own.

Now imagine that the friend in this scenario is not a friend but a company trying to sell you that same product. It’s easy to see how you’d be more likely to consider a purchase if the call to action were placed somewhere in a compelling story.

Telling your brand’s story can be powerful, but first, let’s go over a few simple but effective tips to ensure that your story stands out:

1. Consider your brand positioning. Unless you’re starting a company, there’s going to be a pre-existing view of your brand. Before you try to get your story out there, make sure you understand what people think of your business and why. This is not to say that your brand’s identity has to stay the same forever; just as people change and develop over time, your brand’s personality and voice will probably evolve. Still, you must be sure of where you’re starting out before you can establish where you’re headed.

2. Think about the core values of your company. Before launching any marketing materials into the world, consider the basic values of your brand. Does the content of your story match the values and voice your organization is aiming for? If so, proceed.

3. Keep in mind why you are telling your story. Is it to reinforce your brand’s position in the mind of current customers? Are you using your story to entice prospective customers? The most effective stories turn followers into leads and eventually into loyal customers.

4. Know your audience. With more traditional marketing efforts, lots of time and money are required to get your story out there. Social media has greatly equalized the ability for brand managers to get their message out to millions of consumers. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to put your story in front of millions of people. Use social media efficiently to reach the correct 1,000, or even 100, people through practices like retargeting. Learn which demographics your brand’s narrative will resonate with most deeply, and try to connect with them.

5. Make sure your story is easy to share. It’s difficult to rank any of these points as more important than the others, but this one deserves special emphasis. Put yourself into the shoes of your ideal customer. Looking at your story from the outside; do you connect with it on an emotional level? Are you inspired to share the story with your friends? Does the narrative further interest you in the products/services provided by the brand? The better you can answer these objectively, the more effective your story will be.

6. Involve your customers in your story. An easy but effective way to increase the sharing of your story is to talk less about yourself and more about your customers. Use stories to show future fans how your business has improved your followers’ lives. Publishing user-generated content is a great way to have current customers draw in prospects.

7. Use video. Video on social media platforms generates great engagement, and few things demonstrate the human side of your business like a short behind-the-scenes clip.

8. Choose the correct tools. You needn’t engage on every platform at once. Focus on where your customers spend most of their time. Some platforms are great for storytelling. Use Facebook tools such as “Milestones” and carousel ads, which are ideal for narratives.

9. Be consistent and authentic. Have you ever listened to a friend who tells a story and changes the details four times before it’s over? Consumers are already skeptical, don’t give them a reason to be even more so. Always be true to your brand, and tell your story honestly. Everyone loves honesty.

With these tips in mind, craft your social media content into a powerful narrative that your customers can connect with.

A version of this article originally appeared on Likeable Local.

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