Social media platforms weren’t designed with sales pitches and marketing slogans in mind. All the leading platforms started with ordinary people talking about their ordinary lives. Ten years ago, Jawed Karim posted the first-ever video to YouTube.
Only 18 seconds long, the video, entitled “Me at the Zoo,” features YouTube cofounder Karim, at the San Diego Zoo standing in front of a bunch of elephants. It was the start of a storytelling revolution. People had stuff to share and things to say – and today the internet remains the best place to do it. The key to good online marketing is storytelling.
Brands worth their salt (and even those with tight budgets) know that they need to join and start conversations between real people in their most intimate spaces.
Since then, ads and promoted content have become a norm across all platforms, but the essence of user experience remains true to the original purpose. People want to connect, share, experience, learn, chat, engage, gossip, protest, moan, like, love and feel loved. They’re less interested in your latest promotion or one-time-only sale – and more interested in their friends’ new pets or how many people liked their holiday photos.
If your marketing manager doesn’t get this, then you might as well hand out flyers at the traffic intersection. Just don’t try to do it on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Regular users of these platforms are highly averse to content that look and feel like sales leaflets from daily newspapers.
Brands should think, talk and sound like people – real people. They should be prepared for people to talk back and that what they say probably won’t be “brand friendly”.
If you see people only as a target audience and your aim is to capture leads, the invitation to storytelling will frustrate your marketing goals. But if you see people as lovers, adventurers, romantics, wannabe rock-stars, athletes, dreamers, parents – the list is really endless – you will move beyond targeting. Instead, you’ll want to touch and connect with people who experience the fundamental ups and downs of being human. You will be less bothered about reach, and more concerned about reaching out and having a conversation.
Google and Facebook love the fact that companies are willing to spend their hard-earned cash on online ad campaigns. Sure, these campaigns can be highly effective if done well, but they can also be a total waste of effort with very few qualified results. Just because you have budget to boost your content, doesn’t mean you should.
Take another look at your content. Stop asking if it’s catchy enough. That’s the wrong question. Rather, create from the core of your story to reach the hearts of people who are interested in what you’re offering. Social media platforms were not built for showcasing your latest stock, but to be launchpads for stories. From the mundane to the jaw-dropping crazy, there’s been no better time than now. Get out there and go for broke.