Successful brand storytelling is a key component in social media marketing.
How to tell it? That’s up to you. But in case you need a little inspiration, here are six brands that have excelled in the art of social media storytelling.
Why is Social Media Storytelling So Important?
Stories have long been a part of our culture.
They predate television, social media, and the internet, and they hit us on an entirely different level. Why? Because they’re emotional, relatable, and captivate us in some way.
That said, not every story resonates with everyone. Some want an adventure, while others dig a romance or want to be taught a lesson in the end.
Brand storytelling is no different. It should be emotional, relatable, and captivating – and all of that depends on your target audience. Who you’re speaking to will shape the outline and message of your story, and whether it resonates will depend on how well you do your research.
A successful story is well worth any research or production effort. Storytelling has the ability to connect you more closely to your customers and speak to them in a way that isn’t about the product itself, but rather the emotions and feelings surrounding it.
When done right, a story will clearly establish the core values of your brand, and offer your customers an experience surrounding those values.
Take a look at how these brands did it.
Why it Works: Dove’s been killing the storytelling game for quite some time now. A lot of that has to do with its focus on “real” people; not supermodels, not airbrushed ads. Rather, it showcased women embracing curves and different stage of life.
Its 2013 “Real Beauty” campaign didn’t come without its controversy. But in the end, the company persisted. Why? Because it works. And it works because it’s relatable.
Women everywhere can see themselves reflected in these ads, and it tapped into the all-too-common emotion of feeling insecure in your own body. In turn, it spoke volumes to that particular audience.
But Dove didn’t stop there. To regain a male viewership that felt woefully out of touch with the “Real Beauty” campaign, Dove launched its “Men Care” campaign, which focused on a military man on deployment who missed his child. So Dove took the opportunity to bring this family to him.
Though it does little to promote the actual Dove product, but it did resonate with fathers feeling similar emotions. It doesn’t hurt that the campaign was conveniently launched around Father’s Day.
Key Takeaway: First and foremost, know your audience. Know their pain points and their struggles, and find a way to address them.
Second, find a way to bring that human element to your brand. Even if you’re promoting soap, you can still address body family issues, if it’s something that will resonate with your target audience.
Social Media Storytelling: Heinz
Why it Works: You probably know Heinz for their ketchup. But one of their most recognizable campaigns is for soup.
It proved so successful, in fact, that the campaign ran in the UK for five years in a row. It worked like this: fans on Facebook were encouraged to buy a can of “Get Well Soon” soup, and send it to a friend or loved one.
But Heinz went above and beyond on this one. Each can purchased came with a custom label, allowing fans to essentially send personalized get well soon cards, all through the soup label.
The cherry on top? Heinz partnered with Starlight Children’s Charity, and donated 1 euro for every can of soup purchased.
This works on multiple levels. Through the brand, it’s allowing fans to help out the ones they love and playing on that emotion of family and healing. That story of connection resonates with everyone; after all, who hasn’t wanted to comfort those that are ailing, and what better way to than with a can of soup?
The fact that it also benefited charity added to the story by appealing to people’s sense of humanity. Even better? Heinz let its Facebook community choose the charity.
Again, this only furthered the feeling that Heinz was actually listening to and connected to its audience base.
Is it really any surprise the campaign ran so long?
Key Takeaways: Involve your audience, and make it personal. Heinz was so successful because it played directly on common human emotions.
Think about your brand’s or product’s story, and what emotions it’s connected to. Then, think about how you can use those emotions to tell an effective story.
And of course, if you can find a way to connect your campaign to a cause, your campaign will surely benefit from it. If a consumer has the chance
Nike – Equality Campaign
Why it Works: Nike nailed the art of brand storytelling long before it became a marketing trend.
And in 2017, they did it again with their Equality campaign. In it, Nike uses its standing as one of biggest brands in fitness to shine a spotlight on disparities, and inspire people to take action.
Through it, Nike also positions itself as a powerful force for social change. It’s offering more than shoes and workout gear to its athletes – it’s offering the chance to become a part of the greater good.
So, by wearing a pair of Nikes, or even interacting with them on social media, you too are supporting the movement. It’s a powerful message that message and one that people would be proud to be part of.
Additionally, Nike promised to donate $5 million in 2017 to organizations dedicated to advancing equality in communities across the US.
This campaign again draws on the principles of cause-driven marketing. And the effectiveness of such tactics can’t be denied.
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, nearly two-thirds of millennials and Gen Z express a preference for brands that have a point of view and stand for something, and 33% of Americans think a company’s reputation is just as important as the products it makes – and have bought from them for this reason.
Clearly, Nike’s in the know when it comes to cause-driven efforts.
Key Takeaway: Find a cause that your audience cares about.
This is an especially effective tactic if your audience is in the millennial or Gen Z range. As a whole, they’ve embraced the push for social change. If you can shape a story around your brand and its support of various movements or causes, you’ll gain a positive reputation and more potential customers.
It doesn’t have to be a social cause. Charities and environmental initiatives are equally effective, depending, of course, on what’s most important to your target audience.
Social Media Storytelling: Lululemon
Why it Works: Sometimes the most effective way of brand storytelling is to simply show your product in action.
That’s what fitness super-power Lululemon did with its #justmymat campaign.
The campaign began with an Instagram brand video showing one woman doing yoga in a variety of settings.
And it inspired thousands of followers to upload photos and videos of themselves practicing yoga over various parts of the world, all with the hashtag #justmymat.
So why does it work? Because it takes Lululemon’s core product – fitness and yoga clothes – and puts it in different settings and lifestyle. And it’s core, that really is the brand’s story; embracing fitness, no matter who or where you are.
It’s clever use of a hashtag campaign encouraged users to share their own experiences with fitness and Lululemon, giving those users a sense of community, and giving the brand of lot of social proof to play with.
Key Takeaways: Sometimes, your story doesn’t have to be any bigger than the product itself.
Try focusing on one aspect of your brand – in Lululemon’s case, it was Yoga – and bringing it to life for your users.
Why it Works: Another way to use storytelling to connect with your followers is to literally tell your brand’s story.
Intel does this well on Instagram, where it uses powerful images and captions to show the brand’s history – it’s founders, notable employees, initial products, etc.
But sometimes, a brand’s history doesn’t have to be so far in the past. Documenting the company’s latest products and how they’re being used speaks to where it is now. When combined with archives from where it started, it helps paint a complete picture of the brand and show its evolution over time.
When you see a picture of the first computer being operated, in the same feed as the latest drones being used to help marine research, it shows just how far the company has come, in a way that words alone can’t.
This helps forge a relationship on a more personal level. If followers can see the faces and the story behind the brand, it will help the establish common ground and build trust.
Key Takeaways: Show where you came from.
It could be a short story about your company’s origins with an accompanying photo of the original founders, or a time-lapse video show then vs. now.
Even if your company is somewhat new to the scene, you can still show photos of past and current employees, and try to capture the inspiration for your business through quotes and videos.
Social Media Storytelling: Land Rover
Why it Works: This one takes storytelling to a whole new level.
In 2015, Land Rover launched its Vanishing Game campaign. This embodied the spirit of storytelling, as it included an actual, original book launch.
The full-length, adventure thriller was brought to life through mixed media content, including dynamic video, cinemagraphs, photography, animation, sound, music, and narration.
Throughout the story, viewers could engage with keywords that were embedded with imagery and video. For example, when a user selected the keyword “river,” they could see video footage of a Land Rover crossing a remote waterway.
Interspersed in the experience was actual footage of Land Rover owners on their own journeys, collected by Land Rover through a #WellStoried hashtag social media campaign.
Because of its interactive nature, readers can turn experience its multimedia through desktop, tablet, or mobile, and were encouraged to share via social media.
This kind of storytelling is so effective for a few reasons. First, it tells an actual story that readers can engage and become engrossed in.
Second, it ties in strongly with the brand’s reputation. When you think of Land Rover, you think of off-roading and adventure. Driving and that sense of exploration have long been associated with the brand, and they tapped into it brilliantly with this campaign.
The story resonated quickly with Land Rover owners. It’s the emotional highs and thrills that are meant capture the brand and urge people to purchase, and Land Rover capitalized on it beautifully.
Key Takeaways: Clearly, not every brand can invest in something as complex as this story.
But every brand can tell a story. Think about your brand – how would someone describe it? Fun? Authoritative? Whimsical?
Then, take those emotions and build a story around them. Again, it doesn’t have to be this intricate. Remember what Dove did with its “Men Care” campaign? It built a story around an emotion and features its brand name in the forefront.
Find a way to do that, and you’ll find a truly engaged audience.
Concluding Social Media Storytelling
Feeling inspired yet?
Good. Now it’s time to get to work crafting your own.
Remember, focus on your core values and those of your target audience. The overlap will be your sweet spot – so run with it.