When we zoom out and look at social media trends in the business world, we see storytelling and selling. These are two different strategies that come from different facets of social media, but there’s overlap between them. Read on to learn about storytelling and selling on social media—and possibly how to incorporate both into your strategy!
For storytelling, we turn to the guru of social storytelling, Gary V. He’ll walk us through a few ways that the world of storytelling has evolved in recent years and how to stay fresh as a brand.
“We live in a world where there’s obnoxious amounts of information getting thrown at us and unlimited amounts of outlets to consume that information which is entirely accessible on our own time.”
True, true, and TRUE. There are copious amounts of information on the web. It feels unreachable in a way. And as consumers, we’re obsessed with accruing as much knowledge as possible. In order to differentiate yourself as a brand, you have to understand this and learn how to use it to your advantage. If you’re telling a story that everyone else is telling, ask yourself these questions:
We’ve been learning since kindergarten that stories all follow the same path: intro, rising action, climax, falling action, end. No matter what your story is, it will follow a sequence. Otherwise, it’s not a story. It could be purely informative or persuasive, but if it isn’t following a somewhat similar order, then it’s not a story.
So who cares if your story is just like everyone else’s? There are parts to your story that no one else can replicate—and this is what you want to highlight.
A classic example is the competition that comes with agency life. Every marketing and advertising agency has a similar mission. You win big clients and find cool, creative ways to tell their story and champion their brand. How do you stand out as an agency if everyone is doing the same thing?
That’s when you take the time to reflect and pull out key characters from your story. Chat with your team, think about the history of your company, look at the work you’ve done. Believe it or not, you’ll find big differentiators fairly quickly, and this will naturally weave a beautiful story for your company.
“TO TELL A GREAT STORY, THE NUMBER ONE THING YOU HAVE TO DO IS EVOKE A REACTION.”Once you’ve separated yourself from the competition, you need to cut through the noise and connect to your audience. When telling stories on social media, your metric for success is reaction.
Social media storytelling is a two-way street. You’re not only sending out a message; you’re making a connection with your audience. In order to do that, it’s important to make your story engaging and interactive. Instead of firing off information into the distance, create a story that is interactive. Keep in mind what excites you about your brand, and convey that enthusiasm to your audience.
How to execute storytelling on social platforms
It sounds more daunting than it is. You’re not trying to fit an entire novel or a captivating movie into a 6-second long video. This is a different kind of storytelling. Your goal is to get to the crux of your brand’s story—where it came from, how it started, etc.—and find a succinct, interesting way to spread the word about it.
If we think of every advertising medium as its own form of storytelling, we can see where social media plays a big role. 30 years ago, your company may have opted to invest in a few billboards. You told the story of your company in 1-3 sentences, used colors in line with your brand, and placed it in a spot that would reach the people you wanted it to reach.
This is a diluted version of a classic marketing strategy: Great copy to inform, explain or persuade; staying on brand; and reaching your target audience.
Take that example and translate it to social media. Your objective is the same, but the way in which you tell your story is different. Every social media platform is different, and it’s recommended that you use their differences to your advantage.
Rule number one: Use Facebook’s platform to your advantage. You can create links, come up with a catchy title, add a picture, and write quality copy. Make sure your image is high quality and your copy is a good length. You’ll be the judge on this--stay on brand and you should be golden.
According to a joint research study done by Adaptly, Facebook and Refinery29, sequence advertising is the way to go when it comes to storytelling on Facebook. When ads are sequenced on a personal level, overall view-throughs are increased by 87%, and subscriptions are increased by 56%. With Facebook, sequencing makes sense. It’s storytelling in a literal sense, and it usually works well.
Similar to Facebook, sequencing via tweets is a great way to tell your story on Twitter. You can use a tweet thread that creates a stream of thoughts and ideas to be read as one.
With Twitter, the fastest way to pause a scroll and inspire a click is through video. According to a Twitter analysis of 3.7 million accounts, tweets with video attracted 10X more engagement than tweets without it. That’s saying something! If you have a cool brand video, use Twitter to show it to the world.
Storytelling is in the name. Instagram stories have revolutionized the way marketers are championing brands. With more than half a billion people using Instagram stories every day, it’s safe to say this is a great way to share your brand’s story. This tool gives your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your company’s mission, employees, and daily work.
Because you can decorate your stories with geotags, stickers, and text, we encourage you to use this to your advantage. Make sure your stories are always on brand—you don’t want to be hopping around the rainbow or scaring your audience with 15 different fonts.
Instagram isn’t limited to its 24-hour lifespan stories. You should also be using highlights to paint a picture of your company. Highlights are a clever way of directing people to certain aspects of your brand. They won’t necessarily know it because they’re choosing to tap on your highlights, but you’re basically reading your story to them. CLICK HERE to keep nerding out on this topic.
Social media selling, also known as social selling, is using social media as a tool to reach out to and connect with potential sales prospects.
We can think of social storytelling as the narrative of an organization or brand. It’s there for people to read, but it’s not necessarily deliberate outreach. Social selling is more active. It means actively getting a pulse on different target audiences, seeking prospects to speak to, and connecting with people with whom you’d like to do business.
How does social selling work? It’s not like traditional sales with cold calls and elevator pitches. Studies show that 90% of top decision-makers don’t even respond to cold calls. Social selling is more strategic and interactive.LISTEN FIRST, THEN REACH OUT...Traditional sales is all about reaching out—many times, on repeat. Social sales starts with listening. Research is key, as you’ll be perusing your network for connections, and then secondary connections, and then maybe even tertiary connections. It’s a whole lot of stalking.
We do this because it’s a quick way to get a pulse on pain points and who’s got them. Then, you’re able to see who you can help with a tactic in place on how you can help them.
Much like social storytelling, social sales is about engagement. It can easily feel a bit more like a one-way street of communication, but it’s very interactive. In social selling, your aim is to personalize your messages. It’s less about quantity than it is about quality.
A lot of the time, your audience is looking for exactly what you can give them. Just like social selling is a tool for you, social buying is a tool for a lot of people. They want what your company can give them, and as a social seller, it’s your job to make sure they know how you can be of help.
So, does it work?
Jon Ferrara, founder of Nimble, says this: “Social selling expands on the age-old basics of getting to know your customers and meeting their needs.”
Social sales and traditional sales are two roads leading to the same destination. Both are about connecting with people. Both use communication to facilitate interaction and engagement. Both have an end goal of telling customers how their organization can help them with their needs. But they incorporate different strategies to get there.
It started with millenials, and now social selling is across the board. In fact, 71% of all sales professionals are incorporating social sales tools into their strategy. That number skyrockets when we look at top salespeople, where 90% utilize social selling.
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.” – Seth Godin
At the intersection of sales and storytelling lives social media. It’s art and business, listening and engaging, and showing and telling. While social storytelling and social selling are completely different facets of social media, it comes down to connecting with people and then getting the job done. From our team to yours, happy sells and happy tells!