By Making Storytelling Relevant Again, Social Media Has Forever Changed Marketing

Many people will tell you that marketing is a game of numbers. They’ll say it’s about researching a target audience, developing a targeted message, and using advanced statistics and metrics to determine where that message should be delivered.

Of course there’s a significant amount of truth to that statement, but I don’t think it remains as true as it once was. Successful marketing is about storytelling. In the past decade or so, that’s become even more true than it was before. Why has it become more true? Social media.

Social media has turned marketing from a numbers driven game to a story telling game. How has it done that? That’s what I’ll discuss below.

It’s Shortened the Message

Let’s face it: people don’t have long attention spans. Those attention spans have become shorter and shorter, as texts and tweets have become a primary method of communication. That’s where social media actually benefits marketing, however.

Think of an app like Vine. With Vine, you can create easily shareable six-second videos with the click of a button. There is a much higher likelihood that a six-second video will hold someone’s attention, rather than even just a thirty-second ad. Using an app like Vine for marketing makes so much sense, as the story becomes shorter and easier to tell.

Vine is just one example of how social media has helped with the resurgence of storytelling when it comes to marketing, and there are plenty of other examples too. Brands can use image based social media networks to tell stories without words, which can captivate attention. Through the use of Instagram and Pinterest, brands are being able to capture the attention of people who don’t even have a long enough attention span to read tweets.

It’s Made It More Cost Effective

With the rise of social media, the overall cost of certain marketing aspects has dropped dramatically. Businesses that couldn’t previously afford to reach thousands and thousands of people now can, and they do it by connecting and storytelling via social media.

While of course strategy needs to be seriously considered, amateur tools and apps have helped businesses and brands of all sizes share their stories. Free online resources have helped teach business owners to use programs like Final Cut to create YouTube videos about their companies.

Some of these smaller businesses have no need for spending thousands and thousands of dollars on traditional advertising, as there wouldn’t be any way that it could benefit them. Could a small mom and pop deli benefit from a flood of local radio, television, and print ads? Probably not nearly as much as they could benefit from a strategic social media campaign. With that social media campaign, they can tell their story, and they can do it for a fraction of the cost of other advertising methods.

It’s Become More Relevant

Consumers nowadays don’t want to watch a two-minute long vignette style commercial for a car. They respond to short, relevant, and targeted messages.

Look at what the Portland advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy did with an advertising campaign for Oreo. Part of the “Cookie vs. Cream” campaign involved asking fans for pictures on Instagram, and whether they wanted sculptors to recreate that image out of cookies or cream. When fans of a brand can become part of the story, the story becomes more relevant. And when the story becomes more relevant, both the brand and the fan win.

With social media, brands can tell stories as they are unfolding in real time. Whether it’s on Vine, Instagram, or just a simple tweet, real time content is one of the most beneficial things that social media offers brands. It makes users connect to the brand more, and increases relevancy on all fronts.

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