Once upon a time stories lived on the page, but now, they’ve come to real social life – with brands using Snapchat, Instagram, Whatsapp and more to share their message with the world. While words may be manipulated and misinterpreted, these visceral, immediate platforms are pushing out a more authentic kind of content that consumers can really believe in.
As social media platforms have evolved into fully fledged communication channels, brands have obviously adopted them as a means to share promotional content. Yet in a world filled with fake news, Photoshop and often misleading marketing
, consumers are naturally wary of what to believe. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, 60% of people stated that they’re now distrustful of social media communications (Hootsuite 2019 Social Report) – meaning brands are having to work hard to restore the faith in their followers. This has led to a shift whereby businesses are moving away from using these platforms to maximise reach, and towards ‘transparent, quality engagement’ – resulting in more authentic campaigns that showcase the human side of the brand. Air BnB and Burt’s Bees are perfect examples of this, the former putting host and traveller experiences at the heart of their ‘Belong Anywhere’
campaign; and the latter taking ‘a different approach to beauty’ that’s focused on enhancing rather than concealing.
But it’s not just the content itself strengthening these levels of authenticity. The way in which it’s shared is equally important in building trust, which is why social ‘stories’ are being effectively utilised by many brands. Social consulting firm Block Party reported that sharing via Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp has grown 15 times faster than traditional feed-based sharing – and Hootsuite’s 2019 Social Report further backs this up, stating:
While the fleeting, temporary nature of stories make them appear less concrete, it actually works to strengthen the immediacy and sincerity of the content, heightening the authenticity and believability. As we consume these short, sharp blasts of video on our feed, brands and businesses appear hand-in-hand with our friends and family – further presenting them as a voice to be trusted.
This friends and family factor is important because these are the opinions we trust the most. Business are working to replicate this word of mouth phenomenon with influencer marketing – a practice that’s set to reach $10 billion by 2020, and that 75% of companies are currently using. Yet these strategic brand advocates have been equally susceptible to consumer distrust. In the wake of the Fyre Festival documentary – when influencer models like Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Kendall Jenner played a key role in selling tickets to an event that never existed – million-follower figures don’t necessarily achieve the best results for brands. Instead, they’re investing in micro-influencers with followers in their thousands, who share natural, authentic content (much like the stories discussed above). Rather than working to deliver direct sales, they start conversations and engage consumers, appearing even more like a trusted friend or advisor.
The social storytelling practices we’ve explored all work with one aim – to create truly authentic relationships with their customers. Yet insta-stories and influencers aren’t the only way companies can do this – audio branding is equally effective in building lasting connections. It begins with the foundations of the script, in which captivating copy engages the listener. To deliver this, there’s the voice – adding an undeniably human facet to a brand, particularly when the speaker in question is carefully matched to the company’s unique qualities. And expertly mixed in, there’s the Brand-Sound-Track™ - an exclusive composition written to reflect the distinct personality traits of a business, and cultivate an emotive connection that gets brand identity across in a way the consumer can really feel. This content trifecta adds up to authenticity, with script, voice and music combining to convey a brand message that’s inherently believable. And because it’s not confined to the social channel, it can connect across any platform – on-hold, as part of a video, or even in an Insta-story.
Building a brand your consumers can believe in is about more than words – it’s social, stories and importantly, sound that adds up to authenticity.