Today’s world of digital marketing is more diversified than it has ever been. With numerous channels and billions of people accessing the web, how is a brand expected to stand out? The secret, as it turns out, is to tell a story worth reading. Too many businesses get caught up in the corporate aspect of things and forget to show their human side.

Today we’re going to look at storytelling and how it’s becoming more and more important for building your brand. From there, we’ll look at a unique strategy for using user-generated content in your storytelling strategy.

Why is storytelling important for branding?

You may be wondering what the difference is between content marketing and brand storytelling. The two are fundamentally the same, but storytelling is a form of content marketing that seeks to elicit an emotional response.

That’s the crux of storytelling as it relates to your brand: you have to make it a relatable experience that puts your customers in the shoes of the main character, and gives them relatable scenarios incorporating your brand.

Storytelling is important because it makes your brand feel more human and helps consumers connect with you on a deeper level. If that’s not enough, consider these facts from various psychological studies:

  • FMRI imagery shows that consumers use their emotions when evaluating brands, as opposed to things like facts, features, and characteristics
  • Research into advertising has shown that an emotional response to an ad has a far greater influence on a consumer’s intent than the ad’s content itself
  • Studies have shown that positive emotions towards a brand have a far greater influence on loyalty and trust than other judgements which are based on brand attributes

Ultimately, if you want your brand to succeed, storytelling must be a part of your communication and your brand’s voice. When you’re trying to establish these stories, ask yourself why your brand exists, where you came from, and where you’re going.

Most importantly, ask yourself how your brand affects the lives of your customers. How can you tell stories that make them the focal point and showcase real examples of how your product or service made their lives better?

Most importantly, ask yourself how your brand affects the lives of your customers. - Highlight to share -

You can absolutely tell stories of your own, but true authenticity comes from the customers themselves. That’s why the strategy that we’re going to cover today involves leveraging the real stories that are already being told by your audience.

How user-generated content elevates your brand’s storytelling

User-generated content is almost a literal gold mine for businesses, but many of them are taking full advantage of how this type of content can contribute to your brand’s story. Take Coca-Cola for example. Recently they implemented a campaign where they started placing names on various cans of Coke.

These names matched up with plenty of people, causing them to post pictures with the personalized cans. Other cans with colloquialisms like “Bro” and “BFF” further fueled users to post their stories in the form of pictures, posts, or videos.

As a result of this campaign, Coke saw a 2% jump in their sales, which for them is a lot of money. People were contributing to the campaign via all manner of channels such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Of course, the benefits go far beyond social media. Another perfect example is how the popular car manufacturer, Kia, was able to increase their test drive bookings by 300% using a ratings and reviews approach to customer advocacy. Customers were leaving their site to look at third-party reviews, so Kia decided to bring that experience and those stories home.

So, how does this type of content benefit your storytelling? Here are two big reasons:

1. It’s Everywhere

People are posting content constantly, it’s quite literally everywhere. As of 2013, people were sharing 4.75 billion pieces of content per day, which was a 94% increase over the prior year. That number continues to grow across all of today’s top social media platforms.

Brands are doing more beyond social as well, bringing these stories to their websites ensures that the story they’re telling is present in every aspect of their brand. For example, Mazda has a unique feature on their website where they ask customers to tell their road trip stories.

Sometimes, the best UGC is the kind that you ask for. If you’re specific in your requests, customers can give you the content you need.

People are talking about themselves, but they’re also talking about their favorite brands and telling stories of their own surrounding those products and services. In fact, studies have shown that over 50% of consumers want a brand to tell them what they should create and share, but only 16% of brands actually do this!

You can take advantage of this through multiple avenues beyond storytelling. For example, feedback surveys are a valuable source of information on how customers feel about your brand.

2. It’s Real

Whether we’re talking about making a website, or placing images in your blog posts, it’s always better to use real pictures, as opposed to stock images. Why is this the case? Let’s look at a few compelling reasons:

  • Stock images are available to everyone. How embarrassing would it be if you used the same image as your competitor?
  • Real photos help bring authenticity to your stories and enhance your brand’s message
  • Cameras are plentiful now with smartphones almost always sporting a high-quality option

When you want to tell a great story for your brand, using real images of real people will add a layer of authenticity that you simply cannot get anywhere else. Thankfully, even if you don’t have access to images yourself, users upload them just as much as they do anything else.

Your customers are ready, willing, and able to produce content for you and tell their stories. You need only ask. - Highlight to share -

If you want people to see your brand as authentic, then you must be authentic yourself. Statistics show that millennials find user-generated content to be 35% more memorable and 50% more trustworthy than traditional copy.

Your customers are ready, willing, and able to produce content for you and tell their stories. You need only ask. It’s time to find out how we can use this desire to produce great stories. In reality, everyone who uses social media is a storyteller.

The key to utilising user-generated content efficiently lies in accomplishing three goals:

  • Discovering relevant content
  • Identifying unexpected items worth sharing
  • Sharing everything quickly

Normally, when curating content like this, you would need to license, but by simply asking your users to contribute to the campaign via direct posts or hashtags, you can solicit content that comes to you, that you can immediately share and repost to tell a strong and powerful story.

Final Thoughts

Storytelling is a powerful way for brands to connect with their customers, but it’s hard to tell an authentic story every time. Instead, leverage the incredible amount of user-generated content at your disposal to tell stories by the people, for the people.

The rise of storytelling and how it builds your brand