Sharing authentic stories can help a brand bond with their audience, and increase its online influence. Stories have the power to draw users in and help them build trust with the brand. Once customers feel connected to a brand, they’ll be more motivated to like, share, or comment on the post. Research has shown that audiences are more likely to engage with content when it invokes an emotional response, and storytelling is a great way to inspire personal connection. There are many different ways that marketers can use social media storytelling to boost customer engagement.
1. Know your target audience
One of the best ways to create a story that relates to audiences on a personal level is to use their engagement patterns to grasp what type of content resonates with them. In order to do that, marketers need to get to know their audience (polls and surveys can help with that).
Polls and surveys can get answers directly from the target audience. Moreover, polls and surveys themselves can be engaging, especially if partnered with an influencer who shares the brand’s target audience. They can encourage a wide audience to take the survey and provide the information marketers need, while also driving engagement and starting conversations.
Once an audience’s likes and dislikes are understood, marketers can strategize and use them to find the right influencer with the right story. 63% of people trust influencer messages more than brand messages—therefore, if an influencer tells a story about a brand, it’s that much more likely to authentically resonate with the target audience.
2. Elevate your customers to "influencer status"
Stories told by customers, to customers, can be just as valuable as influencer content. As Forbes reports, “When your customers show how they’re using your solutions to improve their businesses in the real world, others see themselves reflected in these examples.”
Keep track of user-generated content. When a customer tells a personal story about the brand’s product, share it on owned social media accounts. Just take Lulus as an example. Their Instagram account is filled with great pictures of their customers wearing Lulus’ pieces.
Single out some high-quality content that your customers have posted about your products. Make sure that you use the right user-generated content that presents your brand in the best light.
3. Work with micro-influencers
If you want to collaborate with influencers and let them tell your story, micro-influencers are the best choice. Why? Because micro-influencers with 1,000 to 5,000 followers typically have the highest engagement rates (8.8%), engaging a higher number of consumers than mega-influencers, at a significantly lower cost. You might also find micro-influencers among your customers.
Be involved with vertical-specific online communities, and as your followers engage with the brand’s content, be mindful of their followers. If micro-influencers with decent audiences come along, research them to see if they are skilled and experienced content creators. If so, reach out to see if they are willing to collaborate.
What results will be an authentic story from a real customer, polished by the brand and influencer, to ensure its high quality.
4. Remember to post frequently
Social media content quickly becomes obsolete due to its faced-paced nature. For customers to remember the brand, consistent posts are a must.
Combine storytelling with different types of post media to consistently drive intrigue. Since brand audiences consist of people with different likes and tastes, using different kinds of media will help reach more people and boost engagement. Content marketing strategist Barry Feldman supports using a variety of social media content, and as he advises in his article for HubSpot, “Experiment with different types of offers to discover what your customers best respond to.”
Customers will feel more comfortable engaging with a brand if they see that it is consistently present and active on social media. In fact, 65% of consumers feel more connected to brands that have a robust presence on social media.
5. Share personal stories from the brand
Creating opportunities for consumers to learn about a brand’s values and beliefs will entice them to engage.
Take Dannijo for example. The brand shared a story about the two sisters who founded the company, focusing on their close relationship and how that created a pillar of the brand’s identity. This revealing story, shared over time on Instagram, allowed their target audience to connect on a deep, emotional level, and helped them gain 250,000+ followers on Instagram.
One of the two sisters, Danielle, tells Fast Company that authentic storytelling is the perfect component of marketing as it "creates narratives that are so compelling to consumers, they want to build your products into their lives." On a more intimate level, the sisters also share personal pictures on their brand’s Instagram page, which inspires engagement and creates a sense of bonding and gives a behind-the-scenes look into their lives. This humanizes the brand and 1:1 connection with the Dannijo team.
When sharing personal stories, brands must create well-written posts. Collaborating with established bloggers with exceptional writing and editing skills will present the brand’s story in the best light.
6. Reply to comments and DMs
Customers should know that a brand cares enough to acknowledge their comments and messages. Acknowledging a customer on social media will help them know that the brand cares about them. When followers comment on emotional, story-driven content, their responses are often personal and evoke a heartfelt response. If a customer opens up and is inspired by the story, and there is no response to their comment, the results may be detrimental and put the consumer off.
Dedicate attention to all follower comments and DMs—whether it’s a question or a simple compliment, it deserves a reaction from the brand. Interaction with followers builds trust for the brand and, ultimately, makes a purchase.
If you collaborate with influencers to tell a brand’s story, make sure to instruct the influencer to interact with followers who respond to the story. But regardless of the story, be sure to look into their engagement rate before deciding to collaborate with them or not to ensure they will be able to drive conversation on their own channels.
7. Host contests and giveaways
Contests and giveaways always have a high engagement rate. On average, Instagram contests receive 3.5 times more likes and 64 times more comments than regular posts. That is because they usually require a customer to leave a comment to qualify for the prize.
If you combine storytelling with a contest, you can have a match made in heaven. The chance for winning will attract them, but the story will get them hooked. You can host the contest on your brand’s social media profile, or team up with an influencer and let them tell the story. The requirement for entering the contest can also include storytelling. Ask the customers to leave their stories in the comments to win the prize.
Let’s take Dove as an example. Dove is famous for their amazing campaigns, but we can also learn from them when it comes to contests.
Their “Real Beauty Should Be Shared” contest on Facebook is a true gem of social media advertising. It was a fill-in-the-blank contest with photos. The contestants were asked to share why their friend represents “Real Beauty” by typing in the friend’s name and sharing two things that make their friend beautiful. This contest doesn’t demand an elaborate story, but it does evoke a pure emotion just like storytelling should do.
Diana Adjadj, a digital marketer and writer at SupremeDissertations, says, “People love to share their stories, but sometimes they need a little encouragement. Contests can be a great way of bonding with customers, and if you add storytelling to the mix, your engagement can go through the roof.”
8. Turn Your Employees into Your Influencers
Reveal the people who make the brand. Sharing stories about employees will humanize the brand and give customers a good reason to engage.
Give customers an inside look into the company’s culture, just like KrochetKid does. One look at their Instagram post about people who create their products (along with a picture of a woman who diligently works on making those hand-made woven wall hangings) inspires the connection to that brand a little more. It comes as no surprise that people leave comments like "So inspiring!! Love it.”
If you use it properly, storytelling can be the motivator for the increased engagement that you’ve been looking for. Take advantage of the emotional power that storytelling carries to attract more customers to your brand. You can see that there are different ways in which you can combine storytelling with your social media content, so dare to give them a try and test their power!
|Erica Sunarjo is a professional writer and editor with a Master's degree in marketing and social media. She writes thought-provoking articles for publications in a variety of media. She is a regular contributor writer at GrabMyEssay and TrustMyPaper. Even though she is an expert in numerous fields of business, Erica is always dedicated to learning new things. She actively visits conferences and takes online classes to keep her mind open to innovative ideas.||