According to the Pew Research Center, more than 60% of Americans get their news from social media, which presents both enormous opportunities and a host of new responsibilities for marketers. In order to build trust in an era where untrue statements quickly populate social media feeds as “news,” we need to make sure that we are using this medium in ways that engage our audiences and build trust.
Storytelling can often bridge the gap between data-based information and truly understanding its meaning. Value-based storytelling over time reinforces corporate character and builds trust, so it is one of the most effective ways that an organization can manage its reputation and business. Stories provide memorable and demonstrative examples of how a product makes a difference in a person’s life, how data-driven facts can transform businesses and how much an organization is committed to its promises.
The power of good storytelling transcends time, language and culture. Stories about heroes, villains and everything in between have been passed down for generations because they teach valuable life lessons. Stories keep us informed about what is going on around us, teach us the norms of society and build empathy. They have the power to persuade and motivate others in ways that facts can’t because they appeal to our emotions.
When we hear a story, a part of our brain called the insula is activated, which helps the listener connect the events of the story with their own experiences. It actually stimulates the listener’s brain to feel joy, anger or whatever emotions are being conveyed in the story. This stimulation helps people formulate perceptions about an organization’s intentions and builds empathy.
Once we know what an organization values, the character of its leadership and what legacy it strives to leave, we can decide if we want to engage with it. Whether it is through a speech, an infographic or a tweet, brands and corporations need to harness the power of storytelling to reveal corporate character, connect with emotions and hopefully build trust.
Here are some tips for building more effective corporate narratives using traditional storytelling techniques on social media:
Context is important.
Our culture is diverse and a post or tweet can be perceived differently by each audience it reaches. Everyone relates to your content based on their view of the world. By providing context around your post, it enables your audience to gain a better understanding of its intent.
In other words, rather than stating that your organization is donating millions of dollars in scholarships, it is helpful to explain what your company hopes to achieve by donating this money. Is your organization hoping to cure cancer? Are they hoping this investment will provide a better life for a village in a third world country? Is the company demonstrating a commitment to support the best and brightest in your local community?
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By giving a nod to its setting, the corporate values that led to the decision and the desired business outcomes, audiences will come to understand the values behind your corporate statements, which helps to build trust.
Make it human.
Look for opportunities to humanize your content and connect with your audience’s emotions in an evocative way.
Philips’ story of the breathless choir was just one of 2016’s shining examples of how to reinforce the idea of innovation through storytelling. The PR campaign told the stories of 18 strangers with respiratory aliments who came together to perform “Every Breath You Take” at the Apollo. This moving campaign juxtaposes the struggles of real people against the innovations that make it possible for them to sing, reminding us that there is always a way to make life better with Philips.
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