Brand storytelling does not have to be limited to social media. Brands can leverage this strategy through both proprietary and third-party apps by creating shorter, easily digestible content. This content can speak to consumers as they’re in the shopping aisle and improve the likelihood of future sales. Whether your brand is telling its story on social media or through a mobile app the benefits are numerous, and brands can enjoy them by adhering to some standard best practices.
How Brand Storytelling on Social Media Creates Meaningful Connections
Brand storytelling isn’t just about making sales. It’s about aligning a brand with its target market. The kind of top-of-mind awareness that CPG brands need to succeed isn’t possible without establishing an emotional connection that drives consumer loyalty.
Brand storytelling is the process of turning standard marketing into an engaging narrative. CoverGirl’s tagline shift from “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful” to “I Am What I Make Up” is an example of moving away from product-focused advertising to brand storytelling.
“I Am What I Make Up,” on the other hand, is a very literal approach to brand storytelling. Rather than treating the model wearing the makeup as a prop, the brand allowed the personalities of their models to shine through. During the brand’s spots, their models—who range in age, ethnicity, and gender—discuss their personal stories, as well as why they wear makeup. The overall focus is on self-expression, rather than fitting in with a traditional definition of beauty which helps the brand’s message resonate with consumers.
The clear benefit of brand storytelling is the emotional connection it creates with consumers. These consumers are more willing to become brand ambassadors on social media, which can increase future sales and improve customer loyalty for the long term. Of course, that’s not to say that brand storytelling on social media is effortless. Brands must consider ways they can gain consumer buy-in for their message while maintaining a genuine and transparent persona. All best practices for this type of advertising should center on that.
#1: Let Consumers Drive the Message
One of the essential parts of establishing a brand storytelling campaign on social media is to listen to what is important to consumers. Brands may often find they already have brand equity behind their products which they can leverage online by doing a deep dive of available information. This was a strategy Kellogg’s used when they rolled out a new, and highly successful, campaign for Pringles.
One of the first steps Kellogg’s took in designing the campaign was performing a “digital audit” with the assistance of Google. The brand searched out mentions of their product across digital platforms and found a unique trend of consumers combining multiple flavors to create new ones. They built their campaign off this “Stackable” concept, even using it in their Super Bowl commercial.
#2: Focus on the Emotional Response
Storytelling doesn’t work without emotional investment. These narratives must include a component that intrigues consumers and encourages them to watch through to the end of an ad. Some brands advertise using humor, while others focus on nostalgia and sentimentality. As long as there is a human connection to the story, brands can keep consumers engaged.
If there is any brand that knows how to manage emotions in advertising, it’s Purina. The brand is excellent at using their target market’s connection to pets to get them invested in their brand storytelling on social media. The company leveraged this in a recent charitable contribution drive, Service Dog Salute, to help raise money for Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF).
#3: Stay True to the Product
When trying to create a branded story, brands may focus a bit too much on the narrative and forget to highlight the product. Such marketing may not connect with consumers in a way that makes sense for the brand. Even the best brands can make missteps when storytelling doesn’t fit the product.
#4: Monitor Key Metrics and Update As Needed
Brands must monitor metrics during their campaigns to ensure they’re able to change direction if it’s not performing. Sales lift isn’t the only metric worth focusing on. Here are a few metrics brands need to consider when using brand storytelling on social media.
Click-through rate (CTR):
The CTR offers base engagement rates, as these are the individuals who choose to view the ad on a given platform. It can also show how traffic filters into a website, which provides the marketer with an understanding of their most important channels.
View-through rate (VTR):
The VTR takes the CTR a bit deeper, by showing the individuals who viewed content all the way through. VTRs for advertisements are typically higher when the video is shorter as consumers often have the option to skip longer ads.
Likes, comments, and hashtag mentions are a valuable resource for seeing exactly how an ad is coming across to viewers. More than a few brands have been able to pivot their campaigns thanks to early information obtained through social media engagement.
User activity is less about content and more about strict numbers. It can help brands discover when they can get the most engagement from ads. It can also help them track down issues with ad fraud. For example, a brand noticing a high number of clickthroughs during times when their audience wouldn’t likely be active, like after midnight on a weeknight, can be a clear indication of useless bot traffic used to inflate CTRs.
Incremental sales lift:
Sales explicitly related to the marketing message compared to standard base sales are much easier to gauge now than they used to be. Before the internet, brands had to compare prior period sales to current sales to determine which were attributed to marketing. However, mobile apps and websites offer brands the ability to watch how marketing converts to sales in real time, as the user is trackable from the moment they view the promotion until they make the purchase.
#5: Leverage Multiple Platforms and Mediums to Spread the Message
Brand storytelling shouldn’t just be limited to social platforms. Brands can take the message even further, gain valuable data, and better understand audience responses by working with third-party app providers to share small snippets of campaigns.
There are many opportunities to be leveraged in brand storytelling on social media, provided brands create content that establishes an emotional bond with consumers. These campaigns build brand affinity rather than only offering immediate sales. By adhering to some best practices for providing genuine and engaging content, brands can increase loyalty, and over time, their market share.