It’s not social media that’s challenging for brands, it’s content. The ability to create game changing content that tells a better story than your competitors and then integrate that story across paid, earned, shared and owned media isn’t easy. This is one reason I get frustrated with those who preach content marketing without ever talking about the operations and organizational change needed to get it done right.
Brand storytelling is what drives a content organization; and it’s more than just the copy on your web site, an ad or a status update. A content organization has the right teams, editorial workflows and technology solutions in place that helps facilitate organizational change that will allow you to tell a consist brand story and one that is shared, amplified and consumed at each and every customer touch point.
START WITH THE STORY
Marketers often skip this step and then get frustrated because they eventually run out of things to say. They end up creating content that no one cares about or resort to a “galvanizing idea” that produces the same result – nothing.
Your story should consist of 2 main inputs to your storytelling framework:
Research/Insights: Both quantitative and qualitative measures are needed to craft a story that can break through the clutter and successfully change customer behavior. These include a deep analysis of your customers’ interest and affinities, search behavior and various perceptions and general conversations about your brand from various stakeholders (media, analysts, influencers, the community, etc.)
Brand Goals: Just because a high percentage of your customers may like country music, doesn’t mean that you have the license to actually talk about it. You need to ensure that the story you decide to tell delivers somehow on your brand’s value proposition. Red Bull’s “Giver of Wings” is a textbook example of a narrative that adds value to their community and aligns perfectly with their brand.
The output will help you mold a story that your audience can actually relate to, engage with and then share with others.
THINK INTERNALLY FIRST
Smart companies are mobilizing employees to become advocates and brand journalists . I’m not saying that you just open the floodgates and allow for a free for all. You’ll have to create a plan, establish processes & workflows, and start small with just 10 or 15 employees. Once you demonstrate a few wins and best practices, you can expand the program from there.
This is kind of a no-brainer if you think about it; yet I am still confused why so many companies don’t allow their employees to tell stories. Employees are viewed as trusted and credible sources when others are seeking out information about a product or service. It makes sense. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. A few platforms that enable employee advocacy and employee brand storytelling are Addvocate, Everyone Social and Dynamic Signal.
EXPAND BEYOND THE FIREWALL
If you have a good product then most likely there are groups of people who already love you. They have a natural affinity with your brand because of several emotional and rational motivations:
- the way it makes them feel (Dodge Ram = bad ass)
- the value they get from using your product (Southwest = affordable airfare)
- the way they are treated (Nordstroms = amazing customer service)
These groups of people are called brand advocates. They might not have their own podcast or have millions of followers but their voices are heard. They are aiding and influencing their circles of influence down the purchase funnel. Mobilizing your advocates to help tell your brand story is a huge opportunity and, in fact, there are several platforms available today that can facilitate brand advocate programs – Social Chorus, Influitive and Branderati.
ESTABLISH AN EDITORIAL ARCHITECTURE
There are several ways to approach this step. A good narrative will consist of three storytelling frameworks whereby:
- The brand is the story (events, new initiatives, products focused)
- The brand is a character in the story (customer stories, 3rd party articles)
- The brand comments on a story (curated, lifestyle, real-time)
Once you have your narrative solidified and have your internal teams and customers ready to feed the content engine, you will have to build a supply chain that can facilitate editorial workflows, content ideation, asset management, approval workflows and content distribution to the channels you manage – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. This could also include .com publishing and paid media integration as well considering the importance of a real-time newsroom operation and converged media modeling.