How to tell your brand's story on social media

Brent Barnhart

March 17, 2019

Brent Barnhart

March 17, 2019

Is your brand taking the time to tell its story?

Just like folks get sucked into Game of Thrones or the latest best-seller, businesses should strive for customers to get hooked on their brand narrative.

In a day and age where customers are spoiled for choice in any given industry, your story is ultimately what sets you apart from the crowd.

And guess what? Social media is perhaps one of the best places to put your story on display for prospects and customers to see.

In this guide, we’ll break down the basics of a compelling brand narrative and how to reel in customers with your unique story on social media.

 

What is a Brand Narrative, Anyway?

A brand narrative represents the stories, ideologies and content that highlight your business’ identity.

Your narrative is what makes your customers feel a connection to your brand. Through your story, customers adopt your business’ identity as part of their own.

If this sounds high-level or complex, it’s really not. Every brand has a narrative, although some are better at putting it on display than others.

Perhaps the most obvious example of an effective narrative is Apple. Between their iconic branding, emphasis on quality and fascinating history (think: Steve Jobs’ story), they’ve managed to create a cult-like following that’s hanging on their every word and announcement.

 

 

Apple’s narrative is at the core (pun intended) of their success. People identify with the brand to the point where so many of their customers will only buy Apple products. You’re either an “Apple person” or you’re not.

Not every story needs billions of dollars behind it, though. Many luxury cafes, designer hotels and lifestyle brands likewise do a brilliant job of building a narrative. Often through visual content, these types of businesses create a connection with customers while sharing their voice and tastes.

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What Makes a “Good” Brand Narrative?

We’re glad you asked!

Adopting a strong brand narrative requires some soul-searching. Below are some principles of creating a narrative that sticks with people.

 

Putting Your Beliefs and Values on Display

This can a bit tricky, but it’s so important for customers these days.

Much like you probably like to hang-out with like-minded people, your customers want to do the same.

What does your company believe in? What are your values?

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Bear in mind that two-thirds of consumers want businesses to share their social beliefs. This doesn’t mean that you should needlessly inject politics into your content, but rather signal that you have a sense of social awareness beyond your business.

For example, TOMS has managed to master a socially driven narrative despite starting as a seemingly simple shoe brand. For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS either donates a pair to children in need or takes part in some other sort of charity.

More recently, the brand has stood front-and-center on social topics such as ending gun violence which is in line with TOMS’ mission statement of making the world a better place.

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Your narrative doesn’t necessarily need to be this “heavy.” The takeaway here is that a product can be more than just a product if you put your beliefs behind it.

 

Showing Off Your Distinct Voice and Character

One of the easiest ways to drive your narrative home is through your brand voice.

Whether you’re sassy, serious or somewhere in-between, customers should feel like they’re dealing with a flesh-and-blood person rather than just another business.

For example, Black Milk Clothing’s narrative emphasises empowerment and diversity. Their bold and oftentimes unapologetic tone manages to shine through their brand copy and captions in addition to their photos.

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When someone hears from your business, your voice should ideally be as distinct as possible.

 

Keeping It Simple

Again, narratives don’t need to be complicated.

A few simple values are really all you need. In fact, boiling down your narrative into a few words instantly makes it easier to understand and stick to. Some examples include…

  • Organic materials and ingredients

  • Ethical production

  • Uncompromising design

  • A traditional approach

Once you have that simplified narrative in mind, you can expand on it in your content. You can also ask yourself before you post: “How does this relate to the story we’re trying to tell?”

 

What Are the Best Ways to Tell Your Story on Social Media?

Now onto the good stuff!

The beauty of social media is that brands have so many opportunities to communicate their values across multiple platforms.

Below we’ve broken down some examples of how to showcase your brand narrative across social media. These principles can be applied across whichever social channel is your top priority.

 

Single Storytelling Posts

Individual posts that highlight your narrative or values as a welcome break from purely promotional content. Here’s an example from INIKA that double-dips company values and showing off their products.

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Additionally, personable posts that “get real” with customers is a great way to communicate your story and show off your human side. These types of posts are relatable and signal your brand as something more than just a business.

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Long-form Narrative Content

In addition to short-form storytelling content, businesses should also consider creating long-form content that highlights their narrative. This includes blog posts, podcasts and interviews which all allow you to elaborate on your story beyond a social caption.

Also, many brands actually have static pages on-site dedicated to their mission statement or story. For example, INIKA has a philosophy page to breaks down exactly what they’re all about.

 

Ephemeral Content

Bite-sized and time-sensitive, ephemeral content such as Instagram Stories are another great way to drive your narrative home. This type of content quite literally allows customers to follow you throughout your day-to-day life and create that ever-so-important emotional connection.

Additionally, these types of posts can help communicate values, too.

  

Cause-Driven Hashtags

Consider making your narrative part of your hashtag strategy. Given the popularity of hashtag activism, chances are there are relevant tags out there to give your posts and brand narrative some exposure. Here’s a good example from Tramsheds:

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Stories from Your Employees

To create a greater sense of authenticity surrounding your narrative, getting your employees involved in social media is a smart move. After all, every member of your team is responsible for contributing to your story.

This video for Qantas is an awesome example of what we’re talking about. This again highlights how something as seemingly ordinary as an airline can create such a strong personal connection with customers.

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User-Generated Content

Lastly, allow your customers to be part of your narrative as well. User-generated content such as customer photos and testimonials a great opportunity to highlight people who already identify with what you’re all about. In turn, you can encourage others to do the same.

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Remember: Keep Your Brand Narrative Consistent

On a final note, make sure that your story is consistent across your entire business including social media, your website and your brick-and-mortar presence.

Also, make it a point to “stay in your lane” in terms of your narrative. Customers are savvy and can see right through brands that are telling a bogus story or are just trying to be trendy. If you have a bold brand narrative or want to support a specific cause, go for it! Just be sure to back it up authentically to avoid being called out.

And with that, we wrap up our guide!

 

How Are You Telling Your Brand’s Story?

Pushing a compelling brand narrative instantly sets you apart from your competition.

Doing so also helps you keep your content focused and on-brand as you strive to tell your tale.

Coming up with your narrative doesn’t have to be rocket science, either. Simply look at what sort of message and values you want your target audience to identify with and start there.

With a consistent social presence and content strategy, you can communicate that story time and time again to create a meaningful bond with your customers.

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