Working with clients and talking to founders we realized that some of them are missing the essential element for their social media marketing success: They need to be willing to create content and tell stories – the whole time.
Many of the people we talk to believe that social media marketing is all about posting updates and being constantly active in the chosen networks. It is. But that is simply only half the truth. Without a steady stream of content and stories all the activity in social media marketing can only get them so far.
Many social media efforts fail for lack of good content
A large part of social media success is not created directly on the various different social networks. It is created on your own site, on your own blog. It is the content, which you need to play the social networks to your advantage. It is the stories, which you tell, that attract an audience. And while there is a lot of content out there free for you to use, your own content on your own site is essential.
Of course, there are many mechanisms and tweaks to social media activity that you should know about. Not knowing them will make your social media marketing a lukewarm effort. But at the core of real social media success is the content that you share and the stories that you tell. It is not enough to copy other peoples’ content or retweet and share what others post.
We sometimes have a hard time convincing these people that their biggest problem is not what they are or are not doing on social media. It is the utter lack of good and shareable content that often makes them fail with generating traffic. But fixing this lack of content is not as easy as setting up a new tweet or sharing some links on Facebook. It is going to be hard work.
First, you need a place for the content. The most common answer to this is a blog. This place needs to be user-friendly: Look good, be easy to read and provide social media share buttons!
Now you need the content. Not one piece but a steady stream of content. You need to create even more content when you are just at the beginning. When your stock of content is more or less empty: Get going and tell the hell of a lot of stories. You need to fill up your social channels with content. So go ahead and create MORE stories.
Do not take the easy way out by claiming you are not a storyteller. Everybody can be a storyteller. If you are building a company or business chances are high that you actually already are a storyteller.
Do you not speak with many people about your business, your business adventures and your experiences? Start there and turn these stories into articles and you are already on your way. If you have the feeling your written English needs a little makeover to make it work, simply ask a friend or colleague to edit it, get an editor – or use one of the many online tools available.
If you are not willing to tell stories you might have to reconsider if social media marketing is really the best route you can take.
Getting ideas for your storytelling
If you decide you want this, go ahead and dive right in.
The problem at this point for many people is not the telling of the stories, but coming up with enough ideas. So here is a way of finding the first ideas:
Ask yourself (and your team) some questions
- Why are you doing the business you are in? Why are you creating this product?
- What makes you different from what others do?
- How will people profit from your product?
- Why have people before not found the solution you now provide?
- What are your biggest obstacles in building your business? How do you tackle them?
- What are the three most recent funny (or awkward) situations you experienced with building your product?
- What business-related incident last made you laugh out loud?
- What can others learn from your experiences (or mistakes)?
- Which interesting person(s) did you meet in the last couple of weeks?
- What is the most unexpected event happening to you while building your business?
Get the idea? Find more of these kinds of questions, and get everyone on your team to answer them for you – and do it again next week. Browse through all answers you have got. I am sure there are a handful of great stories in there.
The best stories are nothing without people who consume them. Make sure that all your great stories are told to an attentive audience. And that means you have to learn how to distribute your content and get traffic to your website.
Learn how to use your stories to grow a social audience, connect with your audience and grow your business with social media. Check out our ebook “The Social Traffic Code!”
But this is personal? Good!
Most likely many of these stories are personal, or at least relate to a personal experience. That’s good. Personality is what makes your stories stand out from all the others, what makes you unique and unforgettable. These stories also are related to your business, they are real and they are there for you to use for free.
Once you start looking for stories, you will find them everywhere. We have found stories in all kind of unexpected events and locations: With our dog in the forest, at industry events, in a friendly exchange with other founders, in work with clients, drinking beer with friends, in conversations on Facebook and Twitter, on other peoples’ blogs, traveling, … Good stories are lurking around everywhere, just keep your eyes open so you won’t miss them.
For good storytelling: Simply start and evolve from there
Talking to new marketers or founders I realized that one of the biggest obstacles to producing content actually is starting to write the stories. It is the fear of failing with something you are not familiar with, something you have not done before and something which is very personal. If you are not sure of yourself, get a person you trust to read your first stories and give you honest feedback, maybe even edit it. I was lucky to have a great editor on our team when I started with storytelling. I learned so much from her feedback and corrections. I was timid at first and I learned to be more bolt and write with more variety. It is as simple as that: Start, learn and get better.
No one is born a perfect storyteller. Learn from feedback and simply by doing it. Most bloggers when asked about their cautious beginnings say, they simply learned by doing. They admit their writing in the beginning probably was not the best writing ever, but they did it anyway.
A good story can make your business
Good stories are what the big companies use to sell their products. By learning how to tell an engaging story for your own business you can put yourself on the road to success. There is more to good stories than social media success. Good storytelling will help you grow followers, subscribers and customers. It will influence your reputation and the way people respect you, connect with you and talk about you.
Do not be afraid to get help! The ideal situation would be to have someone on your team to proofread your first pieces and give you feedback. This way you will feel much better when hitting the publish button. But there are other options: Freelance editors, friends, tools, .. use them!
(For an example of outstanding and very personal storytelling, you might want to visit the blog of Katherine Kotaw)