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Storytelling on Social Media

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As a career-long marketer, I’m so happy I embraced social media in its infancy, around the same time I began writing my own blog in 2004.

While I saw these newfangled online channels as different ways to send different messages, I knew I was still targeting the same audiences as always with the very same objectives in mind. I knew I was onto something.

I saw social media marketing as a mashup of not just advertising, marketing and PR, but of broadcasting, journalism, publishing, newsmaking and storytelling.

Yes, storytelling. It’s all about capturing people’s attention in one way, shape or form and holding it for as long as possible.

Let’s face it, the writing has been on the wall about traditional media for a long time now. As authors Rick Levine, Chris Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger said in their landmark book, The Cluetrain Manifesto, around the turn of this century…

“Corporate firewalls have kept smart employees in and smart markets out. It’s going to cause real pain to tear those walls down. But the result will be a new kind of conversation. And it will be the most exciting conversation business has ever engaged in.”

We can’t say we weren’t warned.

So…what can we do to establish common ground with the people whose time and business we covet? We can enthrall and enrapture them in words and pictures. We can spin true, enlightening tales that resonate with a mass audience. We can strike emotional chords that give rise to admiration, trust, respect and loyalty.

Entertainment. Education. Information. Insight. That’s what people expect to receive from you. Not the hard sell. Not the promotional puff piece. Not the same old elevator speech.

Incorporate your unique sales proposition into an engaging story that pushes all the right buttons and triggers all the right actions during the course of the long customer journey.

Who really understands the magnitude of this change in how businesses and brands connect with constituents? Who has successfully embraced the transparency and authenticity of this new wave of marketing?

Frankly, a surprisingly large percentage of marketers have fallen behind. They’re stuck in the past and mired in the weeds. They’re second-guessing their own strategies and tactics yet still reluctant to adapt. But there are still plenty of good examples of great storytelling on social media. For instance:

1. Red Bull

Want a lift? Take a swig of a Red Bull. Want to see a master storyteller in action. Take a look at this brand’s online presence. From special events to celebrity endorsements, YouTube to Twitter, clever copy to ridiculously awesome visual content, these guys are as good at marketing as they are at making their popular energy drink.

2. Prudential

You might not have expected to see an insurance company on this list, but Prudential goes above and beyond across a variety of social media channels to enlighten and entertain, to inform and inspire, to do everything but sell. And that’s why they’re so enjoyable to follow.

3. Tough Mudder

I’ve run everything from marathons to 5Ks, and as challenging as they are, many of these races can be monotonous. From what I hear, though, a Tough Mudder is quite the opposite. It’s an adventure in tenacity, grit and determination. Watch their videos. Read their posts. Check out their pictures. But give yourself more than just a few minutes. Like a good book, it’s hard to look up from this iconic endurance event brand’s social media channels.

4. Samsung Mobile

Here's to shining brightly in #2017. #lights #GalaxyS7edge #Newyear #stars #shine

A photo posted by Samsung Mobile (@samsungmobile) on


What on earth could be included in a social media story on mobile computing devices? Everything on earth. Seriously, Samsung Mobile’s Instagram photos are from all over the world, many of which are taken with a Galaxy smartphone, too. Talk about a win-win marketing strategy. Not only does such a diverse array of visual content have the potential for massive reach and appeal, it shows off the capabilities of the product at the same time. Combined with a liberal use of timely, topical hashtags, this account’s got it all going on. It’s a travel journal. It’s a celebration of life. It’s a perfectly produced porfolio of the company’s products in action.

5. Guitar Center

Check out this musical instrument retailer’s YouTube channel and you’ll find a vast collection of videos focused mostly on people, not products. Talented musicians. Fantastic performances. Fascinating stories. All of which will leave you mesmerized, enthralled, dazzled and delighted. Such compelling content has you on the edge of your seat wondering what you’re going to see next. Guitar Center has certainly captured your attention, one of the first steps necessary in any brand’s relationship with a consumer.

Note: The original version of this post was published on ClickZ on January 16, 2017. To read the entire post there, click here.

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