The ‘storification’ of social media

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Nothing beats listening to a good story – whether it’s memories of a relative sitting down with us to read a hardback book of children’s tales, hearing the latest gossip in a pub or café with our friends or connecting via Bluetooth on our phones to a speaker to listen to an audio reading.

It seems social media users’ appetite for hearing a story continues to grow. ‘Storification’ is the word that has been used to describe the latest phenomenon for successful social media posting and it’s anticipated to be a growing trend for 2019. In simple terms it’s about sharing your story to the world – again and again.

HootSuite, which provides a social media sharing platform for over 17 million users, recently published a report which found stories are growing 15 times more than feed-based sharing. The former offers a 3D snapshot – real or artificial – into what a person, group or company is ‘doing’, usually pieced together by content, images and often audio and video. Feed-based sharing, as it’s known, is a somewhat flatter way of sharing an update, product or link in a more basic manner.

In a saturated market where it’s estimated there are 2.77 billion social media users, it appears that it’s no longer enough to simply say what you are offering but to add why you are offering it. Who are you and why should I buy what you’re selling? It certainly throws down a gauntlet to brands to showcase believable and likeable stories that resonate with the public.

“People don’t buy into brands – they buy into the story behind brands,” says Shanna Mallon of social media engagement provider PostPlanner, which has 276,000 users.

“Every piece of content you post, no matter how simple or small, is a way to reinforce the story you’re communicating. Doing so builds credibility for your brand and makes your content relevant.”

Showing a brand’s human side is a key way a business can credibly promote itself. In practice, this means ‘opening up the car bonnet’ for people to see who you really are – perhaps through blogs, vlogs, podcasts and videos that properly personify whatever a company’s brand values may be.

Telling the story provides an exciting and exhilarating opportunity that you would assume most marketing-savvy global giants will embrace in 2019 and beyond.

Of course, putting an even bigger spotlight on yourself through sharing more and more information via content, images, video and audio exposes us all to greater risks. As individuals, it might compromise our privacy or safety, or leave us open to abuse; whilst for global organisations there are inevitable risks to reputation with an audience potentially in the billions watching, cheering or heckling.

The aim for any credible company seeking success in the choppy waters of social media in 2019 is to ensure their own ‘storification’ is a page-turner that people like and want to read the sequel.