Apr 09, 2014

Why Stories Work in Social Marketing Cast your mind back to your childhood.....remember how important stories were in your life? Cast your mind back to the last night out with friends.....how many stories did you tell each other? Stories are the way that people share experiences and make personal connections with each other. When I think about my Dad, he was fabulous with stories...not just telling them but he always asked questions when he met someone new. He asked questions to give people the chance to tell him a story......tell him their story, that way he could find something or someone that he could build on to create a connection. Stories have that effect; listen at a networking event to people meeting for the first time over coffee, they do the same..... Brene Brown has a wonderful expression about stories "Stories are data with soul" And in that sentence lies the key reason....they add soul. When I think back to learning history and learning about World War 1, I can hardly remember all these years later any of the lessons from school.... But what I do remember is my grandad talking to me about being a soldier and on the front line. He showed me the horseshoe of his horse and told me about how this horse had saved his life...losing his own in the process. I remember the tears in his eyes when he was remembering lost friends, the pain of war....Suddenly the facts that I had learned came alive.....soul was added to that raw data. I felt closer to Grandad. I felt I understood him a little bit more....I even loved him a little bit more because of his pain and how despite those horrific memories he had always been the most positive person that I had...and ever....known. Social marketing needs stories...not thousands of words....but lots of soul. The problem comes when stories are used as a way of giving data....without the soul. That is like my history lessons compared to those fireside chats whilst devouring my Friday night Fish and Chips with Grandad. You can't force stories; stories come from listening to customers, from living your brand. Stories don't emerge from a department; stories are created through the experiences of people. Everyone has a story. Every brand has a story. Each part of your social marketing is like a chapter or a paragraph of sharing that story.
Why Blogging is Like the Oil Industry Blogging is an undervalued tool yet it is also overvalued in terms of expectations. What do I mean? Blogging is a wonderful platform. It is a fabulous platform to show your personality and your ideas. However..... The clue is in the sentence....it is a platform. If we equate social marketing to the oil industry then we demonstrate how blogging can help you reach people BUT it doesn't guarantee striking oil. Think about the oil industry and relate it to social marketing Research is required to see where there is potential for oil. Do you research your market, your customer....and even yourself; yourself to understand who you are and what you truly offer? Resources are required to bring that oil to the surface. Do you create time for people to connect to their market? Platforms are a means not the aim of oil companies. So often in social marketing you hear we must have a blog, without knowing if they are blogging on the right subject, reaching the right people and suggesting ideas for the right reasons. Blogs are platforms to connect from; they don't guarantee connection. However without a platform you will never find and capture the oil! Pipelines are needed to bring that oil to shore. Finding oil is great but if you don't capture it and send it to shore...what is the point of connecting to it? So often with content marketing....they spread ideas, they connect to consumers AND THEN forget to convert to sales. Refining turns the raw material into different consumable products. Refining your ideas is a MUST to continue to bring value to your readers. Suppliers then expand your reach. In social marketing finding ways to share your content, to encourage sharing from your customers, to invest time not just in creation but in delivery is so often neglected. Blogging is still a great connection tool BUT more than that...blogging is a wonderful way to focus your own thinking. Blogging needs you to be consistently thinking about what the customer needs, what you offer and how you are different from your competitors. Blogging may seem old hat compared to instagram etc However, radio is old hat compared to television and smartphones; yet radio is still a popular medium. Blogging can be the collection of content from which you 'feed' the newer, different tools.

Anna Farmery

Social Marketing Architect, Speaker, Author and in spare time completing PhD on the future of the social business model

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