Monday, May 4, 2015

CMO's: 3 Reasons Why Storytelling in Social Media Matters

As marketers, we are always looking forward to find the newest trends and communication avenues, but perhaps it is time to look back, and return to those simpler times of campfire stories.  This time virtually.  As an undergraduate student in the Northwestern IMC program, with an interest in entertainment marketing and as theatre major studying how stories work and the best way to tell them, I have looked into two articles expressing the need for storytelling in marketing.

In Keith Quesenberry’s article, “The Power of Storytelling in Social Media Marketing” on Social Media Today, he stresses that audiences are always drawn in with good stories.  To argue for storytelling in social media marketing, Quesenberry, in collaboration with Michael Coolsen, analyzed two years of Super Bowl commercials, using likes and views to measure which characteristics interested people the most.  Coding commercials based on Freytag’s Pyramid, they broke down the ads into five acts: the exposition, rising action, the climax, falling action, and the resolution.  Overall, they discovered that the most popular ads told a complete story and dramatic arc.  This study can be applied to social media marketing to establish a bigger brand story, so that every post can be a “mini-chapter” in a brand’s success.

Alina Tugend shares a similar opinion in her article on Entrepreneur, “From Bedtime to the Boardroom: Why Storytelling Matters in Business,” as she investigates the current, biggest buzzword in business: storytelling. In a series of interviews with professionals and professors of storytelling and business, she argues that storytelling allows a brand and business to connect emotionally to audiences.  Storytelling is not only a sales tool, but also a way for others to better understand your company, to connect employees, and establish trust between consumers/clients and the company.  The key to storytelling is that it is honest and authentic; this is the only way to truly build a connection.

Based on these two articles and my experience with storytelling and the IMC program, I share three successful, resulting actions storytelling permits when CMO’s incorporate stories in social media marketing:
  • Begin World-Building – Everyone loves a good backstory, you need to solidify yours; this    will not only interest consumers, but also create a place for every campaign to spring from.
  • Create Bonds – Authentic stories cause people to empathize with each other, and telling stories will allow you to build a committed consumer base.
  • Establish Understanding – Stories permit us to see things from another’s perspective; they are a sure fire way to solidify who you are in the online realm.
Stories have always been humans’ companions throughout history, and we are only as good as the tales we tell in marketing.  Isn’t it time you opened the page to your fairytale ending?

My name is Katy Piotrowski and I am a senior, undergraduate student at Northwestern University studying marketing, theatre, and business.  I graduate June 2015 and am passionate about entertainment marketing & public relations, theatre, and the latest TV shows.  You can follower me on Twitter or get  connected on LinkedIn.


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