Mark Cameron Columnist

Mark is CEO and head strategist at Working Three, a strategic digital consultancy that specialises in commercialising social media activity. He works with some of Australia's, and the world's, largest and most innovative companies to create a clear picture of the new market forces, and business model disruption, being driven by social media.

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Listen to your audience and tell them a story that says ‘I can help’

Published 27 February 2013 12:27, Updated 10 April 2013 09:43

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Listen to your audience and tell them a story that says ‘I can help’

US group Dollarshave went from being nothing to global brand thank to a carefully crafted story told via YouTube. Image: au.dollarshaveclub.com

Social media platforms have become a “must have” in the modern marketer’s kit bag. Recently the focus has been rightly shifting from technology to techniques required for a successful strategy. A social media plan will address any number of metrics and activities depending on the business objectives. However, one thing every good plan needs is a strategic approach to content marketing. Optimising your content for each platform to ensure the best message reaches your target audience is essential, but that’s only half the story.

The biggest challenge for the digital marketer is to develop a creative way to tell the brand story. Creativity in story telling has always been important. The viral nature of digital communications means the success of that creativity is obvious and measurable. Successes stand out and failures vanish into white noise. While there is no magic formula for developing a creative direction, it is vital for business leaders to understand why it is needed.

Storytelling is in our cultural DNA. Great stories capture the imagination and help people relate to the underlying message. For your business, compelling storytelling is essential for one simple reason – people do not care about brand. It’s easy to forget that the business you live and breathe is not as interesting to your market as it is to you. And real customer loyalty is difficult to maintain. Developing a good story helps make your brand interesting and attractive. The story about the business origins, for example, can put a human face on your brand. The story of Facebook starting out in a coffee-fuelled Harvard dorm room has helped turn Mark Zuckerberg, and the Facebook brand, into something resembling legend.

If the content doesn’t resonate with your market, keep trying.

Social media gives you the ability to tell stories in a new way. While no technology can help you construct a narrative, knowing how to use each platform correctly helps you be more effective in its telling. Finding out what sort of content your audience will engage with doesn’t need to take a long time. Experimentation should be seen as an essential part of the process.If the content doesn’t resonate with your market, keep trying. Don’t make the mistake of blaming the platform. Find out how the platform works best for your brand story.

Before you start storytelling, listen carefully to your audience. Find out where their desires intersect with your brand. Then focus the content around that. Tell a story that says, “I can help”. Help them join the dots and the business results will follow. Social media has eroded the barriers for any brand to tell its story. Dollar Shave Club (dollarshaveclub.com) in the US, which went from virtually nothing to an international brand with just one YouTube video, showed us all that if you get it right, the world is yours for the taking.

Mark Cameron is CEO of digital strategy and social media agency Working Three.

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