Social media is one of the fastest growing marketing segments out there. Platforms are always changing, and the industry reaches new depths of innovation daily. For any industry, it’s important to stay ahead of emerging trends and understand the factors influencing them.
Cue Sprout Sessions.
The Sprout Social marketing team collaborated with experts from social, marketing and various business areas to create a five-day event consisting of 10 web-based sessions dedicated to helping brands improve their social strategy. Out of the sessions I attended, the “Next Gen Storytelling: Creating Personal Connections through Social Technology” provided important takeaways on how the power of your message is immediately strengthened in its ability to inspire action when storytelling and data and technology are combined.
There’s no doubt that storytelling is one of the most important aspects of a brand’s social strategy. Developing clear and authentic content is key to delivering impactful and inspiring action amongst a brand’s social following. Yet, this can be difficult, especially given the distracted audience on today’s social platforms.
Enter Tyler Riewer and Cubby Graham of Charity: Water, a non-profit based out of New York that works to bring clean and safe drinking water to people all over the world. Tyler and Cubby kicked off their Sprout Social session by discussing how they’re leveraging social technology to create personalized experiences that drive social engagement and generate buzz. Here are some key takeaways from their session:
It’s about inspiration. Tyler and Cubby try to focus on the positive – telling stories about opportunity and emphasizing hope more than need. They want their audience to feel powerful, and they aim to do this by telling impactful stories about opportunity rather than highlighting statistics. With any brand story—nonprofit or corporate—people respond more to stories, not statistics. Faces matter, and when people are connected to those faces, they feel more powerful and are likely to share.
Experience matters. The closer you can connect someone to something, the more likely that person is to become a part of that story. Tyler and Cubby try to connect their audience to their projects, using social media channels to connect people back to the impact they’ve created. Charity: Water aims to create this experience through social technology efforts, including 360-degree video footage and virtual reality, and different events and galas, such as water walks, where people can see what it’s like to carry 40 pounds of water.
Determine what works well with your audience. While elements like reliability are extremely important for a brand’s image, they aren’t enough to comprise an entire social strategy. It’s important to lean on elements outside the emotional realm as well. At the end of each week, Tyler and Cubby look at their social content to determine what people engaged with the most. They bring an A/B testing mentality to their social strategy, comparing different social efforts to see what was most engaging. With this, they can determine what strategies worked best and build off that content, creating content that their followers are more likely to share.
Tell an inspiring story in a quick and interesting way. Storytelling differs for the “next” generation as opposed to targeting older demographics because it is a very distracted audience. That’s why Tyler and Cubby attempt to tell these inspiring stories quickly and uniquely. The “how” of this storytelling can be different, whether that’s simply telling stories with a photo or sharing content from their field work using drone footage.
In summary, a brand’s social strategy should lean on empathy and tap into human emotions to connect with its audience and establish a valuable level of trust.