You can thank (blame?) social media for it. While the concept of integrating a brand’s story into its marketing campaign is nothing new, the emergence of social networking changed the landscape of this concept forever. Telling your story from the inception of your company to its current day-to-day is no longer a strategy to consider, it is demanded by consumers.
Social media opened the floodgates for brand story telling from the get-go as users would not tolerate businesses using their social gathering place as a means to spam them with explicit marketing messages. If a business had any hope of being accepted on this new channel they had to adapt by creating a corporate persona. In creating that persona they had to develop a public facing timeline (to borrow Facebook terminology), a continuous path that detailed the life of the brand to its most recent state. The more successful brands transitioned the timeline to their website via social media integration (plug-ins, etc…) so that the story remained consistent across all of their online representation. What this accomplished for those early adopting brands was trust. Online consumers could map out the brand’s life on social media and on their website. As industries took notice hoards of businesses jumped onboard to tell their story and continue to do it so adamantly today that it is no longer the norm, it is expected. However as with any marketing concept, some businesses get it, while others do not. Below are a few pointers to ensure that your business lands in the affirmative.
6 Ways to Tell Your Brand Story Online and Gain Consumer Trust
1. Rethink Your “About Us” Page
Most “About Us” pages read like the first half of an obituary. “So and so was incorporated in such and such year and has received recognition in the industry after receiving this award and that certificate of excellence. Blah. Blah. Blah.” The only person that reads that stuff is your mom and even she can only handle a line or two of it before closing your site and returning to bouts of Candy Crush. Your “About” page should serve as the home to your brand story and where your corporate persona, your personality, should live. If your business started in your parent’s garage or at the corner table of your local Starbucks then start with that. If you have photos of these moments even better (more on that in item #4 below). Create that aforementioned timeline of your business, throwing in not only the successes but some of the cute embarrassments (stumbling blocks included) and give it a home on your “About” page. Consumers eat that stuff up!
2. Use Your Blog to Build Your Corporate Persona
Your “About” page remains static and is a point of continuous reference, whereas your blog allows you to showcase your brand tale on a daily/weekly basis. Remember, your story is a never-ending one (hopefully) and thus the book is never closed. Your blog allows you to add pages to the narrative. Use the blog to update visitors not only on product/service and industry developments, but as a means to tell them about your day to day. This can include proudly introducing new hires, celebrating a valued employee’s professional and/or personal achievements, or even telling visitors about how a recent company picnic at the beach sparked a brainstorming session that resulted in a great new product innovation.
3. Think of Your Business as a Reality Show
A great way to draw useable content for your brand storytelling is to treat each day as if your company was the subject of reality TV. Look at your operations through the eyes of a director/producer, identifying “around the office” snippets that could be edited and serve as fodder for this concept. You’ll need to be ready to jot down notes (for your blog), armed with a smart-camera (item #4 and 5 below) and social sharing apps to react accordingly in a timely fashion. Unlike actual reality shows, you get to control what the public sees – and that speaks volumes in your favor.
4. Use Photos/Graphics to Promote Your Story on Appropriate Social Networks
Photos are essential to capturing your corporate persona and telling your brand story. You’ll use the photos in your “About Us” section, on your blog, and on your frequently updated social networks. You can detail the early days of your company using the #ThrowbackThursday concept and engage users using the selfie to promote your corporate persona. Keep in mind that you need not stick to photo-only tactics to integrate this method into your brand story. A great way to use static visuals for showcasing your corporate timeline is to create an infographic which will detail the life of your brand.
5. Use Video to Promote Your Story on Appropriate Social Networks
Take note from items 3 and 4 above, download these best video apps for your business, and start rolling when the opportunities present themselves. Telling your brand story, whether it be through a branded Vine profile or short video uploaded onto any other network, has never been easier than it is today with modern video technology.
6. Make Your Satisfied Customers a Part of the Ever-growing Story
Telling your brand story is not about you and you alone. Not by a long shot. Your customer, from the first to the one that walks through the door or clicks through to your site today is a HUGE part of it – if not the most important part. When you walk into a brick and mortar shop and see an old dollar bill framed on the wall it immediately tells a story. When you see customers subsequently walk in and witness a familiar exchange between them and staff additional narrative is added to that story. You begin to see that business in a new light. Use your site and social networks to tell visitors about your customers. Ask satisfied ones, past and present, if they would be willing to provide reviews and online testimonials. Hold contests on your social networks that encourage participants to take photos and/or video interacting with your business, product, and service. Make the customer a big part of your chronicles and you will gain trust from prospective ones faster than you can imagine.
Conclusion – The great thing about the consumer demand for brand storytelling is that it favors small to medium businesses. There was a time where companies tried to hide their relative “small potatoes” status, attempting to convey a stuffed-shirt corporate persona in order to be seen as more professional. But now, with the social experience being such a big part of online marketing, pulling back the curtain and allowing the public access to your company timeline is a wise corporate strategy, as long you are the one controlling it. Adopt brand storytelling for your online marketing campaign today if you haven’t already.