How to Use Storytelling to Build Your Audience
These days, people depend heavily on the internet and on social media to find brands that they can trust, follow, and support long term.
Because of this, businesses seek to use various social media platforms to gain more traction. Popular websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Instagram are being used by most brands to showcase who they are and what they do.
Not using these platforms to increase your customer base is outdated; it would also make your business’ presence practically invisible compared to the rest, especially now that inter-industry competition is only getting tougher by the day.
However, it isn’t enough to have these accounts for your business. In such dense platforms where your content can easily be buried by everyone else’s, it is crucial that your content is eye catching and meaningful, so the engagement with your posts will keep bumping them up on users’ feeds.
And the best way to make your content appealing to your audience? Tell them a story.
Why stories are important
People love watching movies, reading books, listening to music. All of these forms of media tell a story.
Stories are made to capture the hearts of their audiences and to leave a message that they can remember for a lifetime. They are far more memorable compared to pieces of data and information that are simply presented to the audience with nothing that viewers can connect to on an emotional level.
Because of the impact, well-told stories have on us, they tend to find permanence in our memories, enough for us to retell these stories to other people too. In our previous blog The Power of Storytelling, we explained that presenting your content through compelling stories is a necessity in marketing since they have a higher chance of being remembered by the audience, hence making your brand unforgettable.
And when your content is unforgettable, people will remember you and keep finding their way back to your brand and business.
But how do you use the online space to make sure that people come across your content in the first place?
Telling a story on your website that matches SEO
It is one thing to have accounts on Facebook or LinkedIn for your business, but in building your brand and humanising it as best as possible, your business should have its own website, and everything you post on social media should link back to it.
Your website is where you can fully express your brand’s identity without the formatting limitations of social media sites. Design it as you envisioned your brand, and have all your content navigable within your site.
Once you set the general feel of your site, release content that people can find when they browse the internet for answers that your brand will have. You do this through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO increases the quantity and quality of traffic through your website, meaning, not only will more people will find your content and site, but it will also be the right people who are looking for what you can provide.
Through SEO, your website will have a higher chance of being found on page one of search engines like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing whenever someone types a query that is related to your brand and content.
Your content should have specific keywords, preferably mentioned in the introduction of your story. In one of our previous blogs, How to Tell a Great Story, we advised the use of the Inverted Pyramid to structure your story. To have the most important details laid out in your lead paragraph will help in your SEO as well.
Your story should be hyper-relevant to a specific subject, which is usually a product or service you provide. For a fully optimised page, this subject should be included in:
- the title tag
- the URL
- the image alt text
This subject should be mentioned several times too throughout the text. This will make the search engine understand that your page and content is all about that subject. Lastly, make sure your content about the subject is unique.
Increasing engagement through Facebook
Facebook pages are a great way to introduce and showcase your brand. However, pages don’t get the same engagements that they used to, and it has become more difficult to increase your page’s reach, according to an analysis by SocialFlow.
On Facebook, nothing is more important than having your posts highly interactable. Hence, aside from having a page where brands can share their updates, they are also now creating Facebook groups and communities.
Bring your followers and customers together in an online community, where they can invite others and discuss all sorts of topics that are relevant to what you do. Having an active community on Facebook will get you more traction, and the more people engage with you and each other in the group, the stronger their connection will be to your brand.
The group will be an avenue for everyone to share their stories to help and support one another. It becomes a safe space for your supporters, and if they find a home in your group, they will likely keep coming back to engage in more conversations.
You can start a variety of topics in the group. If your business is about offering diet and meal plans, start conversations that are about their favourite healthy food, workouts they can pair with their diet, their body fitness progress, etc. Spark discussions by asking them a question. Maybe share an anecdote they will react to. Give advice, but also give them an opening to use their own voice.
Through this feature, you can further humanise your brand, which is key to building your audience’s trust. The importance of this is further discussed in “How to Humanise a Brand through Storytelling.”
You can even start a Facebook Live broadcast, where your community can watch and listen to what you have to share, and you can answer their questions live, too.
Using LinkedIn Stories to promote your brand
If you’re familiar with Facebook and Instagram’s ‘Stories’ feature, you’d know that this is one of the best self-promotional features on social media. You can post whatever you like to all your followers, and the story will be up for 24 hours. You can post a selfie of your day, a short video, a message, or an ad.
In February this year, Pete Davies of LinkedIn confirmed that the social site will be having this feature very soon.
“We’ve learned so much already about the unique possibilities of Stories in a professional context. For example, the sequencing of the Stories format is great for sharing key moments from work events, the full-screen narrative style makes it easy to share tips and tricks that help us work smarter, and the way Stories opens up new messaging threads makes it easier for someone to say, ‘and by the way… I noticed you know Linda, could you introduce me?’” said Davies.
As LinkedIn is known to be the best ‘professional’ social media site, using LinkedIn stories will be a fantastic medium to send short educational clips to your audience and further solidify your brand and its personality.
Show clips of yourself. Tell actual stories while you’re at it. Post photos of a typical day at the office. Use this feature as an opportunity to further humanise your brand and make you approachable to your followers, so they engage with your brand more.
LinkedIn is an exceptional website for branding and marketing. Even without the use of the Story feature, many business people and thought leaders share their stories through this site. For instance, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, has garnered over 17 million followers through the stories he shares about various present day issues and how his brands are trying to combat them.
Sending engaging cold emails
Apart from gaining reach through social media, another way to catch people’s attention online is straight up through their email. However, this can be difficult, as not many people like to open emails that aren’t from people they know or businesses they’ve subscribed to.
Cold emails also often look like spam emails when you open them. They seem so impersonal, and you know right off the bat that you’re just one in a sea of thousands who have received the exact same message. If you’re not important to them, why would they be important to you?
These in mind, you need to tweak how you compose your cold emails.
The subject itself should be catchy already. It should be interesting, if not controversial, and must be relevant to your recipient. Make it mysterious so they’ll be curious enough to open it.
As for the email body, it must be a targeted copy. A“Hi, <name>!” with the most impersonal content might get your email deleted before they even get to the second line of your email. Your cold emails should be personalised so that your recipient feels like you are talking to them individually and singling them out. Just like the title, the content of the email should be relevant to what they do.
Send four emails to each recipient over the course of a month or so, until you receive a response. Schedule it in irregular intervals, as that feels less automated. People often don’t respond to the first email because they’re busy or not yet convinced of opening a stranger’s email, so sending more than one helps you be remembered.
Emails that feel more personal will be better received and will, of course, heighten your chances of getting favourable responses. You’ll find that your cold email recipients will become warm leads.
There are many means and forms to tell your brand’s stories via different online platforms used by the masses today. Use these creative spaces to your advantage, and maximise the features of each networking site to have your stories heard and read.
Great storytelling is a surefire way to stand out among your competitors and be remembered. Make sure to use the diverse features that social media offers. Your creative stories will definitely keep your audience wanting more.