Once upon a timeline: social media storytelling
There’s no doubt that social media has changed the marketing landscape significantly within the last few years. There’s always something new; a new social networking site this year, a new app tomorrow, a new feature next week, a new enhancement next month…social media is constantly in flux. I think what makes it so successful is not only it’s ability to re-invent itself, but it’s ability to re-invent itself while keeping its core proposition intact – social media, for brands, for marketers, for individuals, helps tell a story.
The concept of brand storytelling is not a new one; it’s just also been re-invented. Brands aim to take their consumers on an emotional journey by connecting with them, to create a demand by appealing to a consumer’s wants, needs and desires. This connection is very important and partly the reason why social media has emerged as the ideal tool to tell the brand story and connect, more personally and more emotionally, with existing and potential customers.
Take a look at the new Facebook Timeline for example; it’s essentially a storyline. A storyline driven by the brand and enhanced by its followers. It’s about generating and amplifying stories, and because of this, Timline helps brands become better storytellers. How does it do this? Well getting people(followers) involved for one, they can help bring their own unique perspective to your brand, and helping facilitate that emotional bond between brand and consumer. But its layout is really what sets it’s ability to tell a story apart. Timeline speaks to a story about a brand’s history and its present but it’s designed with the future in mind. The bigger emphasis on visuals makes more impact – images often make better stories and the Millstones feature helps highlight important dates and facts that are essential to the brand’s (hi)story.
Pinterest, for example, is based on visuals. It tells a brand story through images, and how far can a brand go if the only images they feature are product images? With Pinterest, brands must show the bigger picture (pun intended). What inspires the brand? What type of lifestyle does the brand fit into? Pinterest is about going beyond the product and about creating a more complete story around a brand, visually.
Let’s not forget Twitter. It’s immediacy has been the reason why brands have had such success with it – it helps brands tell quick and interesting stories while connecting with followers on a more personal level. I, for one, love when I tweet about a brand and they immediately acknowledge it by commenting or retweeting – I feel like they care about my story and how it fits into theirs.
Every brand has a story, and social media is here to help tell it in a more engaging way. How do you help contribute to the brand story?
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