Storytelling as a Marketing Tool

With so many online voices, it is important that brands find imaginative ways to connect with their customers. Creative storytelling allows brands the opportunity to take consumers on a visual journey.

How is storytelling evolving in this age of technology? To answer this question, I invited Julie Livingston to share insight during New York Women In Communications May 31, 2016, Twitter chat. As President of Livingston, PR, Julie advises clients on how to effectively use storytelling as a PR strategy.

Storytelling as a marketing tool

  • Social media and content marketing provide perfect platform to tell stories as part of brand marketing.
  • Stories contribute to a brand’s persona, a powerful mechanism for connecting with consumers.
  • Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your brand.
  • Storytelling helps to differentiate your brand from the competition.
  • Consumers form a personal connection with your brand thru stories that are authentic, creative and inspirational.
  • New social media platforms are influencing brand storytelling such as snapchat.

Changes that Impact Storytelling

  • Because of social media, attention spans are shorter. Stories must be brief, yet compelling.
  • Audiences have become more fragmented, specialized. Stories that appeal to Millennials may not to Boomers.
  • The advent of mobile has also influenced brand storytelling. Must be brief and highly visual.
  • Real-time storytelling is on the rise. Snapchat is a great example of real-time storytelling.
  • The brand’s audience demographic will often dictate the kind of ‪#storytelling theme.

Examples of Great Brand Storytelling

  • @Progressive has done remarkably well through ‘Flo,’ a character created to tell its brand story.
  • @KennethCole used his fashion brand’s advertising to raise awareness of various social causes through powerful storytelling.
  • @TOMSshoes helped pioneer a type of disruptive storytelling.
  • @warbyparker has used storytelling to make consumers care about buying eyeglasses and helping others.

User-Generated Content

  • Brands are shifting gears from content creation to content curation and getting their fans to contribute.
  • User-generated content (UGC) can come in the form of Instagram photos, Facebook posts, Snapchat,Twitpics and more.
  • Sometimes, user-generated content is requested by a brand in exchange for a contest entry.

Popular Storytelling Platforms

  • Mobile technology and pervasive use of smart phones has contributed to the state of marketing and storytelling.
  • Think Snapchats, Vines, YouTube videos, influencers, long/short-form content.
  • Social media distribution and even made-for-TV content is evolving, changing the face of storytelling. Great example of this would be @Dicks film, “We Could Be King.” They won an Emmy in 2015 for its effective storytelling.

Brands have a story to tell and every effort should be made to identify what best resonates with consumers. Julie’s final thoughts on storytelling: “I think great brands actually tell the story of the customer getting what they want within their own brand story.”

This post originally appeared on NYWICI.org.

Trends In Social Marketing

Trends in social media continue to evolve and new platforms are popping up everywhere. With more than two billion people using the Internet and this number growing by the day, it is difficult to fathom how to keep so many people engaged. Social networking users alone spend an average of 3.2 hours per day online. Vast technological developments require that marketers develop a strategic approach to social marketing to take full advantage of the opportunity to connect with their audience.

shutterstock_71532052As stated in previous blog posts, I coordinate and moderate bi-weekly Twitter chats for New York Women In Communications (NYWICI). During a recent Twitter chat, Rules of Social Marketing, we were fortunate to have Sheryl Victor Levy as cohost. For the past five years, Sheryl has been leading digital strategy and solutions for PHIL & Co., a full-service marketing communications agency in Manhattan. Sheryl also is the founder of Savvy Strategy, a digital coaching and marketing consultancy, working with individuals and clients in the entertainment, licensing and non-profit space.

Sheryl shared the following useful tips for social marketers:

What are the benefits of social media marketing?

  • Real-time brand extension, crowdsourcing brand perception, building loyalty and deepening customer relationships.

What is the best social strategy approach?

  • Know that there’s no one size fits all.
  • Develop a strategy based on business goals, consumer/audiences, communication goals and resources.
  • Research competitors and brands that are doing it right.
  • Survey your community: What do they want? What will they respond to? How do they want info delivered?

What are the top three habits of successful social media marketers?

  • Listen, strategize and optimize

What are some tips to create an affective social media marketing campaign?

  • Definitely know your audience. Do a lot of listening. Develop a persona and know their wants and needs.
  • Be genuine and transparent. Consumers can see through brands! Match your tone to your product.
  • Craft content that is searchable, shareable and relevant.
  • Use hashtags so your audience can find you

How can you determine which social platform is right for your business?

  • Platforms must match your audience and objectives. Facebook for example, is the broadest, yet doesn’t work for Millennials.
  • Twitter is great for leveraging trending topics. Instagram is better for visual representation and reaching Millennials.
  • Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine, YouTube all have a value and should be used strategically.

What does the future of social marketing look like?

  • Multicultural, niche, commerce, personalized, mobile and offering a seamless brand experience

Social marketing is affective, and with billions of Internet users, it is advantageous to meet consumers where they are engaging. “We live in a “multicultural world,” states Sheryl, and she suggests, “Marketers broaden their reach. Video, images and graphics lead the way in digital trends. People are becoming more visual. The proof is Facebook acquiring Instagram.”

This post originally appeared on New York Women In Communications Aloud blog.

Inter-Generational Marketing

Did you know that Generation Z is tech savvy, while Generation Y is super confident, diverse, liberal and more hands-on than Generation X? When targeting different generations, marketers need to understand their audience and adjust their marketing tactics, since each generation has unique expectations and lifestyles, which in turn will influence their purchasing behaviors.

As moderator of NYWICI’s bi-weekly Twitter chat, I had the opportunity to interview Erica Martell, a marketing and communications consultant. Martell shared vital information about the effectiveness of customized inter-generational marketing. “Shifting demographics impact every business,” says Erica. “Communications’ professionals know how to connect, using buzz words.”

Researchers have defined the various “generations” as

Mature/Pre-depression, sometimes also referred to as “The Silent Generation” (born between 1927 – 1945)
Baby Boomers (born between 1946 – 1964)
Generation X (born between 1965 – 1980)
Generation Y/Millennium (born between 1981-2000)
Generation Z (born after 2001)

According to Erica, the “practice of segmenting the population is based on various demographic and psychographic factors.” Understanding their unique characteristics, experiences and needs can help marketers target their message. This is important because “one size marketing does not fit all.”

An interesting fact shared by Erica is that by 2030, Millennials will outnumber Boomers by more than 22 million. And although the year 2030 may not seem so far away, it is important for marketers to know that “seniors are currently the largest demographic, with 70% discretionary income and mega buying power.” In addition, “seniors value honest, optimistic language and premium service, making it all about them.” When developing targeted marketing campaigns, a thorough knowledge of these generational trends should be the driving force behind every effective customized marketing strategy.

Additional tidbits shared by Erica during the hour-long Twitter chat included:

  • Marketers creatively target all generations via Instagram, Vine, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • Social Media will continue to evolve in 2015 as will generational participation
  • Marketers are using Infographics to get key points across visually and instantly to convey their message
  • “It is not unusual for several generations to live under one roof with different values and experiences, especially since the 2009 recession,” says Erica. “Therefore, it is important to cater to culture and generational values and experiences.”

Lastly, consumers want to be assured that they can trust a brand. Erica reminds us that marketers must initiate genuine relationships, demonstrate value and respond to each community’s terms.

This post originally appeared in NYWICI’s Aloud blog. You may read all of my NYWICI Aloud posts here.

A Digital Marketing Guide for Start-ups and Small Business

If you’re a start-up or a small business and don’t think you have an adequate budget for an effective marketing campaign, think again. If you have a computer and Internet access, that’s enough to get you started on the right track.

AAWoman_laptopA strong social media strategy, if applied correctly, can actually help your brand go viral. Below are some practical tips for an effective Internet campaign for your small business:

  1. If you don’t have a Facebook page for your business, create one now. Businesses can build relationships and connect with clients directly.
  2. Open a Twitter account and connect with clients and “experts” in your field to build your network.
  3. Launch a Twitter chat party introducing your brand. Schedule weekly twitter chats and brand yourself as an “expert” in your field. This will give you the opportunity to create a platform where you can share your knowledge all the while bringing awareness to your brand.
  4. Create a You Tube channel. Identify a spokesperson for your channel, and a producer and editor, then develop your content. Create fresh, consistent content.
  5. Design and implement an e-newsletter. Constant Contact provides you with free and low-cost tools to design a professional looking document in minutes. Use the e-newsletter to build your database, strengthen relationships and promote your brand. Share coupons and updates about products and services provided by your company.
  6. Create a blog. Make it interactive and include video as much as possible. Engaging your customers is critical to building relationships. Use the blog to talk with your clients, share company insight. Maybe you recently launched a new product that faced challenges in its development stages – write about it.  Draw the reader in by sharing a personal story associated with a product or service you offer. People love transparency – be honest and draw people in by your story.
  7. Purchase a domain name. Domain names can be purchased inexpensively. Even if you don’t have the budget to create a website, it’s ok. Link your domain name to your blog until you’re ready to invest in a website. Also, purchase a few email addresses @yourdomainname.com. Doing so helps establish credibility to your business or start-up.

As you build your brand, always remember to apply these simple steps at every stage of your business:

  • Build Relationships
  • Fresh Content
  • Share Your Knowledge
  • Image is Everything
  • Connect with Clients/Customers
  • Be Transparent

When identifying the right social network for your business, consider the following:

  • Research the social networks that will work best for building your brand
  • Understand the needs of your target audience
  • Make connections and talk to people
  • Share your goals and identify supporters
  • Measure results

There are so many free and low-cost tools available to you. Use these tools to your advantage. Don’t wait for that million-dollar check to come in the mail. Just go with what you have and work it!

This post originally appeared on the New York Women In Communications blog, Aloud.