Stories have immense power over us. The good ones etch themselves in our memories, and we discover that the best can't just be kept to ourselves. That is after all the power of a story. It's told to one, spreads to others and ultimately becomes a story known to many.
The best social media efforts achieve the same. Quality campaigns and executions stay with those that interact with it and offer the means and the reasons for them to spread the word.
What's Your Narrative?
A narrative is defined as a spoken or written account of connected events. For social media marketers, the narrative is the glue that holds all social media efforts together. It's the emotional connection that a brand's points of difference share with its consumers.
Many brands have no idea what the narrative they're trying to craft using social media is. Social media simply serves as another means to distribute deals and keep the relationship with consumers as nothing more than transactional.
There's an opportunity to tell a story, craft a narrative and allow consumers to walk away with something much more emotional than a deal, but for every brand that narrative is different. However, in order for a narrative to make sense to consumers, a few questions need to be answered for consumers:
- What do you want me to take away?
- What do you want me to tell my friends?
- Why should I spread the word?
The Pieces of the Narrative
The narrative brings all the social media pieces together and acts as the overall emotional experience for consumers. The best narratives have a few key components, including:
The characters - Your brand and your consumers are the characters in your tale. They drive the story forward and are the centerpieces for the drama (good and bad) that unfolds. You need to understand what each character’s motivations and interests are. What is the brand all about? How will consumers react? How do one's actions affect the others?
The setting - Location is key because certain moments in a story can only take place in certain locations. If you want to achieve something, the right social media platform must be selected, but you have to ask yourself if the setting fits in with the overall story and, more importantly, is it a place where the characters (your customers) would go?
The plot - Every story has at least one set-up, climax and a resolution. Your social media narrative should too. Explain what is happening and why. Then execute and encourage interaction and then follow-up with the conclusion. Unlike a story, your social media efforts shouldn't have an ending. There will be multiple plots, but everything should fit into the overall narrative as the glue that holds everything together.
Determining Your Narrative
The narrative for your brand should be rooted in a few key questions:
- What do you want to accomplish through social media? This will tell you your social media goals.
- Why are you using social media? This will help determine the core justification of using social media for your company.
- How do you want to be viewed? This will help you determine how you will present your brand and how.
- What do you stand for and what do you value? These are the core points your narrative will hang its hat on. Laddering these points up to the emotional level will help determine the experience consumers will have when interacting with you in the social space.