13 Ways Stories Support Social Media Marketing

Stories: Social Media’s Heart & Soul (& How to Use Them)

Stories are the heart and soul of social media because they’re powerful and connect us, and help prospects and customers engage with our businesses, products and brands.

At their core, stories are about our shared experiences and the strength of our relationship. They’re a critical component of  social media marketing.

Here are thirteen ways to think about stories and how they apply to your social media marketing.

  1. Stories create a voice. While much marketing uses language void of any association with anything remotely human, stories contribute to your business, product or brand’s voice. As The Cluetrain Manifesto points out, social media talks with a human voice. This supports your brand and enhances your offering. On social media platforms this translates to how you communicate.
  2. Stories help develop your personality. Stories contribute to creating your business, product and/or brand’s character more fully. It’s not just words on a page or a product. The narrative supplies specific details that enhance your offering as well as its background.
  3. Stories conjure up images. While children’s stories tend to incorporate actual visuals such as drawings, photographs and videos, all narratives illustrate their points with images their audience understands. These make stories widely understood regardless of age or level of education. Additionally, these images can be strong without having a specific drawing. When describing your products, prospects find it helpful to have actual photographs and graphics. Leverage social media’s ability to share photographs and videos as well as your other design elements.
  4. Stories identify us. They provide markers related to background and culture. They underscore where your products and brands originated. This includes how language and words are pronounced and spelled as well as the colors and other imagery used. Use the language of your social media community on social networks. (Also, don’t judge others by their use of your language since they may not be native speakers.)
  5. Stories explain connections. By giving an account of how people and products are related, stories provide additional context. On social media this translates to building your social graph as well as connecting with your customers and fans. Don’t forget social sharing (including email) to enhance your reach.
  6. Stories offer a history. They explain what happened in the past and how it influences who you are now. This enhances your products and brands while differentiating them from those of your competitors. Let your community contribute to your stories on social media platforms.
  7. Stories teach us. They instruct us how to live our lives. Like fables, they show us how to solve problems and explain the world around us. When applied to your product, this is the core of advertising. On social media, provide education through your blog or videos.
  8. Stories offer entertainment. Think of sitting around a fire telling stories, an oral tradition. They’re fun and amuse us. Think about how to entertain your prospects, customers and fans on social media platforms to win them over.
  9. Stories use tropes and memes. Many tales incorporate classic images that get integrated into current lexicon. Among the better known ones are from Homer’s The Odyssey including the rosy-fingered dawn and the wine dark sea. These short hand phrases facilitate our ability to remember them. On social media this translates to knowing the appropriate short hand.
  10. Stories are sticky. They provide context in which facts are organized so we can remember them better. With regard to your offering and brand, tales are invaluable for distinguishing you and enabling prospects to remember you rather than a jumble of facts. Think in terms of providing context for your products and brands on social media.
  11. Stories are memorable. Stories convert your information into a tale with a beginning middle and end. Even better, your narrative can differentiate your products. Use social media platforms to highlight and share your stories.
  12. Stories can be embellished. Part of the strength of stories from a marketing perspective is the ability to add to them and make them our own. This attribute is a critical one for social media marketing where participants are asked to share their stories or show how they use your product.
  13. Stories are universal. They’re built around larger, human themes that go beyond an individual. They’re classic.  Extend your stories on social media platforms.

Stories provide the heart and soul of social media marketing for businesses, products and brands. They’re critical because they help distinguish and enhance products and brands while providing a basis for interaction and engagement across social media platforms.

What other points about stories make them the heart and soul of social media? How do you use them to enhance your social media marketing?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/evablue/6184599528/

 

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  • Jim Perez

    Heidi,
    I read your column regularly, get a lot of great advice.
    I have to say this caught me off guard:
    “Stories conger up images.”
    I looked up conger: any large marine eel of the family, Congridae; or a group of booksellers.
    I wonder whether you meant conjure?

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Jim–Oops! Sorry I missed that one! Thank you for catching the mistake. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://twitter.com/SocialPlanet_M SOCIAL PLANET

    Fantastic post, Heidi! 

  • http://twitter.com/buildingbytes Declan Connell

    The point you make in number 6 is one of the most compelling reasons we tell stories as our desire to  find our place in the overall scheme of things is a strong human driver. It seems to make sense of our  present and our paths in life. I think social media provides context for the multitude of decisions we make durning a typical day and since we are conditioned from early childhood to understand stories. Social media provides positive peer affirmation of our personal decisions.Thanks for the post it got me thinking !

  • http://nateriggs.com nateriggs

    I would add that stories can help connect businesses with with the humans that run them, adding a higher sense of emotional connections to products and services. And, because humans usually by based on emotions like trust, it’s critical to include the people who operate a business or brand in the stories that surround it.

    Really excellent post today, Heidi! :)