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Jite OvuerayeBeing engaging is not enough for modern day audiences. Social media is changing and evolving so quickly that posting a lot is now not enough for the masses.

In a thrilling, eye-opening session, Dedicated To Digital exposed the secrets behind running your own digital business.

One of the speakers at the Dedicated To Digital masterclass, held at The Workstation, Victoria Island, Lagos over the weekend with the theme ‘Strategy in a digital world,’ Jite Ovueraye, Head of Marketing and Operations at Accelerate TV, notes that “Storytelling is the way to go if you want to appeal to your audiences on digital. You have to find a way to capture the users’ attention, so the more authentic your brand sounds, the better your results will be.”

See excerpts from his presentation below:

Not only does this method position your brand better in the minds of your audience but it also goes a long way to getting entire communities to understand and pay attention to your brand, while improving customer trust and enhancing brand image.

Brand storytelling is:

  • The reason why your company came to be
  • What motivates your team to wake up and come to work everyday
  • How your product came to be
  • What types of customers find value in working with your brand and why
  • A transparent view into the people behind the company
  • A relationship-building tool
  • More subtle than you realize
  • A concept that underscores your entire web presence
  • Something that your entire team, at organizational levels, embraces
  • A look into who you are as a company
  • Direct

So just have these pointers in mind and you will be well on your way to having a brand with a convincing brand story:

  • Who are you anyway?

Creating your brands personality trait(s), is the 1st step. You need to know who your brand is and what exactly you stand for, before the audience can figure it out for themselves. If it was a person, would it be male or female, young or old, how would they speak, what are their interests, do these line up with the audiences expectations and importantly how do you differ from the competition?

Once you can figure these out, you can begin to create a solid background for your brands story, ensuring a consistent tone of voice from the outset.

Think about it? Do you see BellaNaija.com as a high powered, knowledgeable woman or a gossip hungry (gisting) guy? Yes, I know I planted the seed in your mind, but Bella has prided itself with being a well curated platform from day one. Choosing to post accurately rather that fast… With their consistent gold logo and CEO carrying herself with grace and style.

  • Showcase your style

Ok, so now you know who you are, let’s showcase your brand to the world. Social media is a very visual media so you have to build credibility by using consistent messaging and images across platforms.

Focusing on the language and topics you have decided on, you will have make sure there is a consistent voice interwoven seamlessly through all your brands communication. With this in mind you can always sound real, authentic and relatable to your audience.

Just look at Coke, their colours have been drilled into our minds over the years. They are not the only ones with a bottle but their bottle outline is synonymous with the brand. The way they speak and the look of their ads are always similar, ensuring fans know what they are dealing with from the outset.

With social, just look at US based fast food chain Arby’s. With giants like Mc Donald’s and Burger King, they had to be creative and target a niche. On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Arby’s is using the same geeky tone that strongly resonates with their community.

The most powerful brand stories are the ones that prioritize customers as the stars. Think of your company as a supporting character. So talk to them how they talk to each other and then incite them to talk about you in kind.

  • Forget About Marketing

Yes, this may sound very counter intuitive, however it’s the key to successful marketing. Don’t use all your energy focusing on selling products and being a marketing wiz. What you should be doing is focusing on developing a human angle in all things. Find ways to answer this simple question…why should people care about what your company has to say?

So it’s time to be persuasive and then also focus on appealing to your audience’s emotions.

Brand stories are not marketing materials. They are not ads, and they are not sales pitches. Brand stories should be told with the brand persona and the writer’s personality at center stage. Boring stories won’t attract and retain readers, but stories brimming with personality can. So whatever you do, don’t be boring. Do not let the words on your page hide the personalities behind your organization.

For example, when you think about Volvo, your mind should go to words like safe, environment conscious, sturdy, reliable, etc.… that’s because they have spent years changing the narrative that they are just a boring box of a car. And I believe it’s working.

  • Plan your story

Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The natural progression people have come to rely on and expect. There is always a:

Beginning: Where we see the problem. Explain the problem that you set out to solve.

Middle: Problem solving time. Describe how you solved it.

End: Success. Get excited about the success this produced.

However be careful with the ending, though. It’s not supposed to be an ending like the end of road. It should suggest the beginning of success and continuation.

The audience has to be able to believe you, they need to be guided through the ups and downs and feel like they are part of it or at least understand it. Simple stories are more trustworthy. As some of the world’s most famous brands have shown, the complexity of the story can erode trust. (Just look at Econet, I mean Vmobile, sorry Celtel, no it’s Zain right? D’oh…I mean AirTel) they are doing well now, but they could have been a lot further up if their story was straight forward.

  • Why are you even here?

The story shapes your brands reason for existence. So why does your business exist? The answer should be a story.

An answer like “to make money” is short-sighted. Your business might be making money. That’s fine and well. But why does your brand exist? What is the reason?

The answer to that question requires that you tell a story, and the story must connect with your customers. So, at its essence, a story isn’t really about your company. Your company is the construct, but the goal of the story is to create a connection with your customers.

  • Encourage Your Audience to Share Their Stories

Storytelling doesn’t have to be one-sided. In fact, turning it into a collaborative process can add a lot of depth and authenticity to your story.

Chances are your stories might remind your audiences of their personal experiences. Including these experiences in your narrative is a great way of demonstrating that your company and your community have a lot in common, which plays a critical role in developing strong brand-consumer relationships.

So tell a good story and the story takes care of itself. A good story is shareable. Others will appreciate and engage in the story. That being said, there are a few things that you can do to enhance the stories virality:

–       Build your personal brand. Remember how a story is infused with personality? You and your team are the personality behind this.

–       Grow your reach through your personal brand.

–       Be active on social media. Stories will spread through the power of social media. Snippets, extracts, and anecdotes are passed around, retweeted, liked, and explained bit-by-bit. Meanwhile, you build a presence and a brand that lives in a public social consciousness.

–       Tell the story everywhere. Make the story part of who you are and what your company is. Communicate using the power of the story. Whether you’re writing a guest post, piecing together a biography, or just tweeting about your day, give your story and elemental presence.

–       Encourage your customers to tell the story. Customer testimonials are one of the most effective ways of broadcasting your story. Customers themselves will experience the problem//solution//success momentum of the story. If they’re satisfied, they will be more than happy to crow about it.

–       Use these stories on your website and marketing materials. They will reinforce the brand’s story.

Encourage storytelling everywhere. When your brand hits the mainstream, its story will become further entrenched in public awareness. (eg. Amazon customer reviews, Linkedin personal references)

  • The Takeaway

Today’s digital savvy world is full of consumers who are increasingly looking to bond with companies before hitting the “buy”, “Like” or “share” buttons. That’s why it’s more important than ever before for companies to grab their audiences’ attention by creating compelling stories. After all, they’re one of the most effective ways of improving customer relationships and boosting brand image.

The great thing about stories is that they lives on no matter what… People are still talking about the 3 orange men, Cadburys drumming gorilla or even Toms’ Shoes, their story on giving shoes to the underprivileged has travelled the globe. Real stories keep on telling, keep on going, and keep on connecting with people. Keep your story alive by continuing to impress your customers and give them the best experience possible.

Your story will build the foundation of trust, but only a customer’s personal experience will cement that trust into something that lasts.

So let’s tell digital stories.

–Jite Ovueraye

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