The Importance of Social Media Storytelling

With the emergence of Web 2.0 communication channels, the public relations field has scrambled to gain an understanding and control of how to engage consumers with compelling storytelling campaigns via blogs and social media networks.

In his article, The Essential Brand Persona: Storytelling and Branding, Stephen Herskovitz of Hammond Hill, LLC, shares that “consumers no longer get primary messages about a brand from the brand itself.” Instead, they are more likely to receive and listen to messages from their trusted circles of influencers (i.e. family members and friends), and other customers.

As you may have noticed, there has been a noticeable shift in the public relations practice within the last few years (and even last few months!). Gone are the days when monitoring local, regional, and national news sources for mentions was enough. Public relations professionals must now monitor social media networks, chat rooms, and forums for mentions, complaints, and praise.

Today’s communicators must create messages that are tailored to the needs of a particular individual or group by using behavioral information gathered from various social media accounts, blog posts, and reviews.  This information is then incorporated into new storytelling campaigns that can help prevent small issues from flaring up into viral crisis communication conflicts for a brand.

In a blog post released in May 2012, PR Newswire’s Vice President of Social Media, Sarah Skerik, identified storytelling as an emerging Web 2.0 skill set that public relations professionals must be able to utilize because “a good story is valuable currency today.” Skerik wrote that “in order to develop a story that will gain traction with your audience, it’s necessary to spend a little time learning about their interests.”

Today’s PR practitioners must craft stories both for the news and for consumers. Herskovitz suggests that you try to craft stories that help customers “recognize and identify with brands,” but also “strengthen emotional connections” by being relatable and encourage new thoughts / sharing.

What are some positive examples of brands engaging consumers via storytelling? Leave a comment below and feel free to share a link!

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Yasheaka Oakley Owens

Yasheaka Oakley Owens is the owner of YOakleyPR, a woman-owned small business that provides public relations, social media, and online marketing support services to small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware.

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