By Erin Hardy. AMA Tampa Bay welcomed Miri Rodriguez (@MiriRod), Microsoft’s Delivery Development Lead in Social Media and Communities, as the guest speaker on Thursday, January 26. Approximately 100 attendees enjoyed Rodriguez’s expert insights on using social media to tell a brand’s story during the Chapter’s monthly Keynote luncheon.
Go Back to Basics: Your Brand’s Story Should Never Change
It seems obvious, but as a brand grows, it can easily lose focus. As Rodriguez told the audience, your brand is the essence of what you do, and that story should never change. Today, with social media weaving into every other aspect of marketing, one of the best ways to tell your brand’s story is by letting your customers tell their stories.
Tell Customer Stories of Achievement – And Don’t Sugar Coat It
It’s one thing to tell your customers what your business or product can do for them—they expect that. It’s another thing entirely to have your customers do the talking by using social media to tell their stories about how your product or service helped them or improved their lives. In today’s social media world, it’s those customer stories that resonate with other customers.
In fact, the much-courted millennials find and stay loyal to brands they feel are doing good. That “good” could mean a number of things, from brands being involved with charities or producing products that improve the lives of people who need help.
Rodriguez showed the AMA Tampa Bay audience a perfect example of how powerful customer stories can be when she played a video that highlights Ariela Suster and SEQUENCE, a jewelry company in El Salvador. The video spot clearly demonstrates how the Microsoft Surface is helping SEQUENCE reach its goals…without ever mentioning the name of the product.
The video shows, but doesn’t tell—and that’s powerful. And it’s also not an entirely happy story. Suster started the business to give young people in El Salvador an alternative to gang violence they encountered on the streets every day. Some of the training her artists go through has to be done using the Surface from remote locations because it’s too dangerous for the young people to travel through the streets. “You can’t sugar coat stories. It’s important to be transparent.” Rodriguez told the crowd. “Life happens, and it’s not all great. Everyone knows that. When you tell stories about the whole journey—both good and bad—it resonates.”
How To Tell Your Brand’s Stories
Microsoft is a big brand and has resources many other companies don’t. But that shouldn’t stop you from using their social media storytelling model. No matter how big or small your business, it’s filling someone’s needs. Listen to your customers and find those stories about people taking action using your products or services. The best stories involve achievement.
Rodriguez noted four levels of achievement that inspire:
1. Movement—These stories revolve around customers who are using your product or service to take action and advance a cause or idea. For example, a business that sells custom signs could be part of helping to form a local neighborhood watch. This story shows other neighborhoods they can do it too.
2. Heroic—While the SEQUENCE story is both global and emotional, your story doesn’t need to be as big or dramatic. For example, a customer could tell a story about how her elderly dog is more outgoing and active after the owner used a pet-sitting business.
3. Better—Again, the story of improvement doesn’t have to be big and dramatic; it just has to be real and resonate with your audience. For example, a customer with back pain can tell the story of how a massage therapist helped him live with less pain, which proves the service’s mission.
4. Destination—This is all about people who are going places, literally and figuratively. One audience could aspire to travel to the moon, while another aspires to take a road trip in a classic car. For example, if a business provides Alaskan travel guides, a family could tell the story about their dream vacation to others who want the same experience.
Analyze Your Story & Mission
Lastly, Rodriguez added that it’s crucial for a business to be self-aware. Constantly examine your story and mission to make sure you are staying true to your brand. A story in a video might be funny or inspiring, but is it funny and inspiring to your audience? Does it fit who you are as a brand? Is this what your customers want to see? Remember, no matter how much you grow, your brand is the essence of what you do. If you keep your eye on your mission, listen to your customers and stay transparent, you’ll always be telling the right stories.
Erin Hardy has been a writer and content specialist for more than 20 years, creating messaging for multi-billion dollar corporations like the HSN and Eckerd Corporation to boutique ad agencies and start-ups. Today, as Well Planned Web’s Editorial Lead, Erin transforms complex topics into meaningful content that resonates with clients’ customers.