That said, there’s an emerging trend that’s happening in social right now. Selling is becoming less effective, and it’s being replaced with storytelling. More and more, users want to see the truth and grit of your business—less fluff and less photoshopping.
Why is the storytelling trend emerging? Well, it’s because the desires of users are changing as well. Here’s how:
They hunger for real, sincere connection.
For too long, measuring the success of digital marketing on social media has come down to likes, shares and follows. For social media strategists like myself, these numbers (while insightful) are not la pièce de résistence anymore. I preach it and I practice it—let’s say goodbye to measuring success by likes, and say hello to measuring it by real, human engagement.
So what does this look like? It’s the direct messages that people send you asking for your opinion or quoting your tweets raving about how you’re thebomb.com. It’s the conversations that occur, and the exchanges that take place not by automated programs but by real people behind real computers with real interest in the content at hand.
They want a relationship—not a sales deal.
Users are tired of being sold to by strangers. They’re tired of the cold-calling, the automated DMs on Twitter, the systems that like random posts based exclusively on hashtags. We’ve known it since door-salesmen have been knocking on doors all across North America—people hate being sold to.
This increased sensitivity has led to users being able to better detect ulterior motive. They’re looking to build something sincere, and decide themselves that they trust you. They’re no longer interested in a couple back and forths, followed by an ultimate sale (which was the original intention to begin with).
If you want to engage with your potential customers online these days, you have to stop viewing them as a possible sale and start appreciating that they’re human.
They want to see behind-the-scenes.
Users on social media these days need to trust you before they buy from you—while this can be done in many different strategic ways, the one which is coming up most successful combines communicating your brand, your sincerity, and a bit of your heart—as you’ve already gathered, I’m talking storytelling.
This kind of storytelling can’t be fabricated either. Users are tired of the bullshit and the bedazzling of lifestyles that we now know are complete frauds. They also hate being lied to… don’t believe me?
Have you noticed how people online are tired of seeing the “working on the beach” posts by entrepreneurs? Have you noticed that they’re swearing more, and calling others out more confidently via social media? The trend of no-bullshit, straight-up, tell-it-like-it-is is exploding on social right now.
Users want to see glamour shots from models that are entitled “Take 45—an ode to capturing the perfect booty shot”. Users want to see Mompreneurs with a massive cup of coffee being real about the struggle of juggling Mommy with Boss as toddlers scream in the background (all while adorning sweatpants). Users want to see selfies with real-talk descriptions, highlighting the “started from the bottom now we’re here” story of what it really took to reach success.
They want you to harness your social media profiles to show them how it is—not how you sell it.
Snapchat and Instagram are huge for several reasons. Here are a few of them:
First comes trust, then comes helpfulness, then comes the sale. In longer terms, users want to get a sense of who you really are, and your intention for engaging with them. Then, they want to see that you actually know what you’re talking about, and through sharing free content with them, you can actually identify their pain points and take said pain away. Finally, after a real, trusting relationship has been developed, and the need arises for someone like you, guess who’s the first one to come to mind? Yup, you’ve got it!
It’s really not all that radical. When you make a new friend, you can’t instantly ask them for a favour within 5 minutes of meeting. You nurture a real friendship with deep and trustworthy ties before you could ever even imagine making an Ask.
They want to see consistency in your business branding, and your personal branding.
When a founder of an organization says something or acts in a way which directly contradicts the messaging of the organization itself, that means big trouble. Immediately, suspicion develops. Talk about PR disaster.
Capitalism reigns in North America—more and more the public dislikes what comes along with this reality. For example, businesses that are only in it to make a buck. Businesses that don’t really care about customer service or making their buyers happy. Businesses which have hidden agendas… More and more, they want to avoid using their well-earned dollars by supporting these kinds of sketchy businesses. Can you really blame them?
Today’s online user isn’t a complicated puzzle piece—they’re looking for sincerity. That said, you’re in trouble if you’re looking to pull wool over the eyes of your followers, because they’re smarter than ever online and they’ll see right through you sooner or later.
To the well-intentioned, customer-focused small business owner struggling to make it on social media, this is your time to shine! To the money-focused, self-centered businesses with something to hide, you’ve been warned.
Gillian Sisley is a social media-savvy strategist hell-bent on engaging with people on a real, human level.
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