It’s funny to see how so many companies mix the concept of social media and storytelling. I was recently watching a video by Dow Chemicals, on how their scientists where using storytelling. It ended up being a talk on how they empowered their scientists with social media and allowed them to create a following on the Internet. While this is a terrific idea, it has nothing to do with storytelling.
Social Media is a communication channel. One that’s bidirectional and allows for quick and personal interactions. It’s powerful and it’s definitely a great channel to tell stories in. That said, the usage of it doesn’t implies that everything you push through it are stories. The fact that most social media tools have a personal voice, already brings the realm closer to the story world, but it’s still not enough.
Stories are about fundamental human experiences. Companies might use social media to push this stories, but someone needs to tell them.
There are companies that are expert storytellers. In general, when using social media, most brands tend to either tell compelling user stories or stories about their own brand. How was it working in the company 10 years ago, how did this employee went above and beyond to help a customer or how an employee did something amazing for their coworkers. All of them are stories involving humans and some degree of emotions. The more emotional the story is, the more impact and empathy it generates. Here are some examples:
It’s hard to beat this user story:
Check out an emotional user story:
For most companies, though, social media is just another billboard. The just push press releases or product announcements. Others use it as their own mini Groupon. While there is nothing wrong with this, the level on engagement and empathy that a cold offer of 2×1 or 30% discount generates in a person is close to nil. Yes they’ll use the coupon, yes they’ll take the discount, no, they won’t talk about you, no, they won’t become loyal customers.
This is what it looks like in Burger King land:
This is what it should look like (The restaurant is Burger King):
Zara only caring about their products…
Finally, there are companies that just don’t care about their social media channels. The either don’t have them, or have them but don’t use them. Some, even use them to lash out to their users, as it was the recent case of Beta Punch. Social Media channels are very personal by nature, if you use them to nag at someone, the feeling is that someone, maybe the CEO of the company not only distrusts you, but just plainly doesn’t gives a shit about you. This tends to general very visceral responses by the customers. As we can see, being personal is a two sided sword, so use with caution.
Groupon style twitter feed:
They care so much they don’t even have a decent Twitter account:
And superb CEO quote on how much he cares: