Stories are everywhere – you’ve got a story, we’ve got a story, your business, brand or product has a story. And if you think stories are just for kids, you’ll be amazed at what a difference you’ll see when you stop merely giving people information and instead start engaging them with stories.
Not convinced? Here’s an example:
Yellow Blue manufactures and provides recyclable take-out packaging to the food service industry.
“Don’t throw that away!” With that panicked, incredulous phrase, Yellow Blue got its start. Founders and co-workers Sarah and Dave stopped by their local food truck to grab a quick lunch and noticed that the crowds gathered were eating out of containers then tossing them into the trash. While they waited for their food, Sarah and Dave started sharing ideas about what could be done with those packaging materials if they were diverted from a landfill. When the next person approached a trash can, Sarah and Dave simultaneously yelled, “Don’t throw that away!” And the seeds for Yellow Blue (which, when combined, create green) were planted.
If the storytelling example makes you want to read and learn more, you’re not alone.
They want to know more, you can direct them to take immediate action and they’re gaining entertaining information (if you’re doing it right – always focus on what’s in it for your audience).
You choose the tone, you choose the voice, you choose the “characters” and you build your story (and continue the narrative) based on the way you’d like to be perceived. A simple piece of information is great, but allows someone else to take it and run with their own narrative.
Emotions are very compelling in brand stories and love, happiness, anger and more are all reasons to hit social share buttons. When you include your target audience in a story, they feel like they’re in it with you instead of being loosely connected or watching from the outside.
What starts as a blog post on your website can be broken out into intriguing bits and shared across social media channels. Take the above story of Yellow Blue, for example.
The story of how Yellow Blue became a company appears in the “About Us” section of their website.
A more in-depth article on how Yellow Blue became a company appears as a highly shareable article on the company blog.
The company asks for people to post to Instagram photos of their take-out in containers that will be thrown away. They comment on and share the photos and do a tally of how much trash will be saved from landfills if the containers were Yellow Blue recyclable materials. The results of the unofficial “visual study” are later turned into a blog post (as well as an infographic).
Yellow Green starts a hashtag campaign on Twitter asking people to tweet every time they receive a take-out container that’s not recyclable. Food service establishments are tagged and #DontThrow (the phrase that started it all) is used to collect the responses. This has the dual purpose of grassroots outreach as each restaurant is notified about Yellow Green’s products/efforts.
Details on the Instagram and Twitter campaigns are shared on Facebook as well as daily photo updates from Sarah, Dave and customers on the growing and evolving Yellow Blue story.
All these efforts came from one brand story that started as one page on a website. Storytelling should most certainly be a part of your website design, content strategy, and social media efforts.