Entering the Consumer’s Self-Narrative in Social Media
With consumers now taking on a brand-like existence, it is becoming increasingly more important for brands to not just share their stories with the world through content marketing, but to enter the self-narratives of their consumers.
Guest Post by Jon Ardito, Senior Account Manager at Fame House
In today’s social media era, people have essentially become their own brands. Each has a need to perform, be liked, looked at, followed, and bought into.The number of Likes on a Facebook page are only as good as the attachment people feel with the brand. Brands therefore must elicit trust from their audiences to harness that attachment and turn it into real marketing value.
Is this accomplished through interest targeting? Not quite. Interests are fun and easy, but they are not self-involving. They don’t present an emotional craving that will be significant enough to prompt an action. People pride themselves on self-identity: The clothes they wear, the concerts they go to, and the lipstick they use to make up exactly who they are. Identity is much more relevant. Rather than finding customers based on their interests, brands need to discover how people see the world and provide marketing experiences that translate into their world. This allows people to feel that their points of view are being considered and suddenly the brand becomes more accessible – more “like me.”
However, it is not enough to ask a consumer to identify with a brand. Instead, it becomes the brand’s responsibility to identify with the consumer. This shift comes with a strong need to (probably more than ever before) use marketing knowledge and data to understand the audience because once they do, they are in a better position to interject their offerings into the lives of existing or potential consumers.
In addition to being familiar and accessible, brands need to also empower. The difference between a consumer and the brand that’s speaking to them must be a perception that with the brand, they can become more. It becomes the brand’s responsibility to show its audience the way and to evoke something that is already within them, but not yet awoken. Chef and restaurateur, Nobu Matsuhisa, says:
"For me, cooking is about giving my customers little surprises that lead them to make discoveries about their own latent desires."
In other words, a product or brand story is successful when it feeds people's appetite for self-expansion. People are primal and experiential, but they need guidance.
While storytelling remains a valid part of everyday communication, the shift from telling brand stories to entering consumer stories will be an important social media marketing challenge for brands worldwide. However, it’s a challenge that holds great rewards once the audience is understood.