19 Aug Connecting with Your Target Audience
Connecting with your customer base is the single most important goal your marketing strategy needs to achieve in order for your business to succeed both online and offline. However, connecting with your audience is most essential on social media. After all, social media is social! Social media marketing is the perfect marketing method for connecting with your customers on an organic level, while also building your brand voice and improving SEO.
So, how do you organically connect with your target audience online? The answer is storytelling.
While not so different from the storytelling of marketing strategies from ages past, effective social media storytelling requires an understanding of how to make the most out of the platforms, technologies and how audiences use both of them.
Let us take you through what good storytelling is, how to connect by telling your stories, and why it’s important to find out what your audience is saying online!
What Is Good Storytelling?
Good stories connect people like a magnet. Storytelling on social media isn’t the same as writing a good book or telling a story to your friend.
So, what does good social media storytelling really look like?
The process of creatively sharing information and narratives to communicate a clear message to an audience is known as storytelling. At its base, a story is good if it can reach, connect and resonate well with your audience. The key here is the audience. You can have what you think is a great story, but it won’t matter how it seems to you as the creator if it falls flat with your audience. Stories don’t happen in a vacuum. This is why storytelling is a two-way communication process of sharing, listening and repeating.
Social media is full of stories. Every post, video and comment from users seeks to tell a story in some way, no matter how big or small. For brands, social media storytelling is where you can shape the narrative of your brand by sharing stories about your business, products, values and more. Essentially, it’s about turning your brand from an abstract corporate facade into a living entity with its own distinct personality — not only about promoting your products and services. The best social media storytelling appeals to your audience’s emotions, shows or calls others into action, provides real value to your audience, and is memorable.
Let’s consider what social media storytelling might look like on different platforms:
- Facebook storytelling is a great opportunity to tell longer, more captivating stories due to the platform’s very lengthy character limit. Pair these strategic stories with relevant photos to capture your audience’s interest, build a connection and bring your story to life.
- Instagram storytelling is the other way around, starting with visuals as the priority. On Instagram, you have a lot of flexibility to tell visual stories through design templates, videos or even spreading out your story across multiple posts. Instagram also has a lengthy character limit for post descriptions, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of textual storytelling here, as well.
- Twitter storytelling is straight and to the point. Use a relevant or branded hashtag to keep track of content and the stories others are sharing related to the tag — this will make your brand’s story part of the community’s story. Consider also incorporating images or making your stories longer by threading your Tweets.
- YouTube storytelling is where video is the star of the show. Read our previous blog, “How to Get Noticed on Social Media with Video,” to learn more about video storytelling on YouTube and other social media platforms!
Your customers aren’t just numbers and money signs, they’re real people. Storytelling through marketing and social media makes your brand more welcoming by actually connecting with people who make up your target audience.
Connect by Telling Your Stories
Yes, the purpose of your social media accounts is ultimately to help increase your sales. Before that can happen, though, you need to sell your brand before you can sell your products or services. Customers don’t want to feel like they’re receiving a sales pitch when they see your social posts. Instead, storytelling positions your business as a trustworthy brand that shares the same values with your customers, similar to how a customer may turn to a trusted friend for their opinion and guidance on any purchasing decision. Aim to always inform your audience, encourage thinking, and inspire engagement. Doing so will strengthen your customer loyalty and organically improve your sales over time.
Consider using some of these tried-and-true storytelling techniques:
- The hero’s journey — This is a classic method of showing a story’s progression and can be used to show the benefits of taking a chance.
- The mountain — This method highlights the challenges to be overcome.
- Nested loops — These smaller, interconnected, and layered stories can drive home the main purpose.
- Sparklines — This works by contrasting two points to spur a call to action.
- In medias res. — This method starts in the middle of the story, then back to the beginning. A great method for attention-grabbing!
- Converging ideas — Self-explanatory, this method tells how two opposing or conflicting elements came together.
- False start — False starts aren’t entirely false, but they make an unexpected turn early on to generate surprise and intrigue.
- Petal structure — This method gives you the opportunity to tell smaller stories that are held together by one common center.
What Are Your Customers Saying?
How do you know if your stories are making connections with your audience, and how can you know what types of stories your audience wants to see? To learn this, you’ll need to find out what your customers are saying on social media and other places online.
Using social listening strategies or even social listening tools like Sprout Social and BuzzSumo help you keep track of the public conversations users are having about your brand online. This includes both social media posts and comments. You can also use these strategies and tools to learn how your target audience is discussing topics important to them that are relevant to your brand. Researching hashtags are one way to get started with social listening.
The next step you can try is learning what stories resonate with your audience by directly interacting with them online. What better way to learn what your audience thinks than by going directly to the source? Consider trying surveys, polls, and simply asking for direct feedback on social media.
Finally, you can also ask employees that interact directly with your audience, such as customer service representatives, what impressions they have received from customers about how your brand is connecting with them. Do they feel engaged, heard and valued? Or, do they feel isolated, ignored or unimportant?
Knowing how your target audience perceives your brand will help you continue developing effective stories that inform, engage and inspire.
Telling the Story of Your Brand
We understand that as a business owner, you’re already preoccupied with running your business. How can you fit in the time to craft the story of your brand online, all while making sure it connects with your audience and produces real results? That’s where Virtual Stacks Systems UK can help! Our experienced team of marketing professionals can help you reach your audience online with a targeted social media marketing strategy and many of our other digital marketing services. We invite you to contact us to discuss your marketing needs. We can’t wait to hear the story of your business!