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Social Storytelling

Storytelling has always been at the heart of advertising. You don’t sell diamond rings by talking about the ring itself. You sell them by telling the story of what that ring represents – love, commitment, joy – and the people experiencing those feelings.

Social media is so fast-paced that it can feel ephemeral. It can feel as if there isn’t time to tell a story, and even if there was it will be scrolled past. This can cause clients to question its value, both financially and creatively. If social is not seen as worthy of investment then why investigate the brand story to be told on those channels?

Well, simply put, social media is worthy. Not only is it worthy, it is crucial. We’re not the only ones who think so. Social media advertising budgets have doubled worldwide over the past two years with Social media ad spending likely to exceed $35 billion in 2017 (Hootsuite). So, if your brand doesn’t have a resonant presence, you risk being left behind.

So, where do you start? You start by getting to the truth of your brand. What is your product, your purpose, your personality? Once you have answered those questions you can start to build your brand narrative.

These questions may lead you to challenge long-standing assumptions about your brand but the lessons learned should help you to advertise in a way that will resonate more than a typical branded communication.

Your brand story will be the bible of your brand. It will inform how you look, how you talk, whom you target and where. The personality traits that come from your brand story can and should form the basis of your content strategy. This will enable you to bring your brand to life digitally with communications that have your brand’s soul at their core.

Once you built your brand story, the hard part is over. You then have to bring aspects of this story to life with every social post. This involves great visuals, pithy copy and a bit of ingenuity. The good news is that there are more tools to facilitate this than ever before.

Good visuals are the linchpin of great social stories. Think of them like the pictures in a children’s book. Imagery is the only thing that will capture your audience’s attention, the only thing that will stop them scrolling through their multiple social feeds.

Whatever the central themes of your brand story is – product, ethos, process – invest in expressing them visually. Good photography and video still rule supreme, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. If you don’t have budget for video, bring stills to life. A beautiful visual story can be told in a gif in a matter of seconds. Add animation, try stop motion or, just play with the colour balance.

Social copy can often be overlooked but it should receive the same love and attention as a billboard or radio ad. Done right, social copy can pique curiosity, inform, challenge and importantly, drive traffic. What’s the trick? Less is more. Social media users never want to click “See more…” If you haven’t communicated your message before that link kicks in, you’ve gone too far. Turn around, edit edit, edit, and try again.

Be willing to explore new formats. If your brand story is strong there is no reason why it cannot be brought to life in a full-screen mobile experience, a carousel ad or even a camera filter. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms have all developed new creative formats for you to employ. Test, learn and rest assured that these formats are new for all brands, not just for yours. What can set you apart is a strong brand story, and learning from the performance of every piece of content.

Storytelling is a part of Irish identity; it runs through our veins, so we should expect it to run through our work. Invest in defining your brand story and be brave in your content creation and your brand story could become a classic.

Amy Sergison is Copywriter at McCann. Contact Amy to talk about how you can bring your brand story to life through Social Media & Content.

The article also appeared in IMJ.