Let’s begin with a reality check: A whopping 74% of brands have no meaning in consumers’ lives. And why would they? Why should we care about the company that makes our washing powder or bakes the bread we eat? The trust for official corporate messaging at an all-time low with 84% of millennials saying they do not trust traditional advertising and only 6% of millennials considering online advertising to be credible.
Consumers don’t care about your brand or your marketing message—unless it resonates.
Brands can increase the value of a product or service by 20 times with storytelling. After all, 92% of consumers prefer ads that feel like a story. Here are five brands acing storytelling on social media and some actionable takeaways.
Our favorite brands use characters (e.g., the Charmin Bears, Tony the Tiger, and the Keebler Elves) in their marketing messages and for good reason. Research shows that social media shares are boosted by 585% by using a brand character. Compare enjoyed an 80% jump in Internet traffic following meerkat Aleksandr Orlov’s first TV ad appearance. And Churchill’s famous nodding dog boosted pre-tax profits for the Direct Line Group by almost 50%.
One of my favorite character examples is the Aflac Duck. This character came to light when an agency creative realized that the name of the insurance company sounded like a duck’s quack. The cheeky white duck went on to become the star of numerous ads stealing the show on social media too.
The Alfac Duck has 784,000 followers on Facebook and 65.2K followers on Twitter (as of this article’s publication). He’s cheeky, funny, and 9/10 people in America and Japan recognized the brand just by seeing the duck!
Storytelling Tips: Having a consistent brand character is great for storytelling on social media and brand recognition. But only if it’s done right!
Humans of New York is a photoblog of street portraits and interviews by photographer Brandon Stanton. Started in 2011, the pages now have a phenomenal following of 18 million+ on Facebook and 9 million+ on Instagram. Stanton has collected portraits in over 20 countries and interviewed former US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. So, why are we talking about HONY? Because of its legendary storytelling.
Interestingly, most of the posts on HONY’s Facebook Page are long and require people to click on the “See More” button to read the full posts. They are also split into threads 1/3, 2/3 and 3/3 for example. But here’s the thing: When the story is good and we have connected with it, we will read more. In fact, by splitting the stories into different images and parts, HONY creates suspense in the readers.
Storytelling Tips: HONY is successful because of its incredible stories, stunning photography, and philanthropic approach. However, commercial brands can also steal some tips from HONY.
Can you imagine life before Netflix? Everyone’s favorite household name is also pretty good at social media storytelling. Netflix knows exactly how to create intrigue, engagement, and social virality. With sharp captions, trailers, video clips, and movie snippets, the brand has racked up 6 million followers on Twitter.
So, how is Netflix doing storytelling on Twitter?
First, it’s worth noting that Netflix has more than one Twitter account. So, it can create its own dialogue. Aside from the main Netflix account, Netflix also has accounts like “Netflix Is A Joke” as well as separate accounts for its original content like “Stranger Things.” Dialogue between the two accounts spreads awareness and amplifies the storytelling effect.
Of course, Netflix isn’t going to tell you the whole story on Twitter, the aim is to get you to subscribe to its service. Instead, Netflix provides you with little snippets of the story to create intrigue and prompt discussion.
Research by Twitter tells us that tweets with photos get 313% more engagement. While most tweets have only one image, attaching multiple images to a tweet is a great way to tell a story. Netflix rocks this with its montage tweets. You can easily create this look using an image tool like Canva.
(Interestingly, Netflix doesn’t market on Facebook and hasn’t done for a year.)
In recent years, Nike has aced storytelling for social media. In fact, Nike nailed the art of brand storytelling long before it became a marketing trend.
One notable example was the famous Equality campaign. In it, Nike shone a spotlight on disparities using key sportsmen and women and inspired people to act. Fast forward to 2019, and Nike is still owning the storytelling space. With its video Dream Crazier, the brand powerfully represents women in the sporting space and their achievements over adversity. “Having a baby and coming back for more? Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy and crazy.”
And Nike is right on the marketing money. Studies show that 92% of consumers say they have a more positive image of a company when the company supports a social or environmental issue.
So, how does Nike ace storytelling on social media?
Its content strategy and use of hashtags and inspirational quotes from athletes and various sources prompt constant sharing. Nike always pairs its videos with a hashtag. Its “What Will They Say About You?” ad got 75,000 Twitter shares within 48 hours all using the hashtag #Believeinmore #JustDoIt. As with all Nike’s campaigns, the hashtags are used in everyday life, even by users who didn’t watch the original video.
Storytelling Tips: Nike’s integrated social media approach spans across all online channels. Here’s how you can set the pace like Nike:
Part of storytelling is framing your brand and establishing its timeline in your viewer’s minds. Intel does this well on Instagram, where it uses powerful images and captions to show the brand’s history, founders, products, and notable employees. In fact, it has created an iconic timeline through storytelling even though the brand was only established in 1968.
Check out this great International Women’s Day post:
Just looking at the old black and white pic tells us that this is a company well-established in tech history. We also understand that it has always been a progressive company utilizing the skills of women in tech when many brands would not have entertained the idea.
Storytelling Tips: Want to create a timeline for your brand and position it as significant in the minds of users? Here are some tips to try:
Here are some more storytelling ideas for social media:
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