Rich and Co.

“…sharing consumers’ positive stories about a brand can be a highly effective online marketing strategy.”

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“Increasingly, the locus of power in the digital marketplace is moving from the brand itself to a combination of the brand and the consumer…Throughout history, storytelling has been an integral way to convey attitudes and values, and it will remain a key source of information and influence in the digital world. As new technologies such as virtual reality evolve and improve, brands can expect to continue to have new opportunities to use consumer storytelling in their communication strategy”

“When consumers prepare to make purchase decisions, stories can deliver important information and shape the decision and the overall brand experience…stories significantly increase consumers’ engagement with websites and that stories originating from consumers are especially powerful in shaping brand attitudes in social media. Indeed, companies that aren’t offering experiences that leverage consumer input in brand-related narratives are missing out on important opportunities to connect in a meaningful way with potential buyers.”

“In traditional TV advertising, brand-to-consumer marketing messages have dominated. However, in a “multiscreen” marketplace, the traditional marketing model faces tough competition, as companies use brand websites and social media to deliver messaging with greater impact. Direct brand messages that have narrative structures can significantly increase persuasion and brand connections in both old and new media. But as consumer-to-consumer storytelling becomes increasingly ubiquitous on social media, previous notions of direct brand influence are being replaced by more nuanced notions of brand-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer marketing. This allows for complex combinations in which consumers share creative content with companies and then both the company and the brand users share that content further on social media.”

Companies, too, have become more active in sharing consumer stories and even facilitating the creation of consumer-generated content…

Traditional marketers need to understand why consumers engage in storytelling. Research studies show consumers share stories and engage in social-identity signaling and social comparison dynamics both to help other consumers and to compete with one another. Good marketing practices today require a clear understanding of the role of consumer-generated content and ways to put it to use.

The idea of a traditional rhetorical triangle — consisting of an author/storyteller, an audience, and a subject/context — is well-established in traditional face-to-face and print storytelling.

How Consumers Respond to Stories
In our studies, respondents exposed to a consumer story about a brand had greater willingness to consider that brand and felt higher levels of connection to and trust in it.

From our studies, we found that consumer-based storytelling influences people to consider purchasing products. In fact, across the three studies, there was an average increase of 32% in purchasing consideration when consumer-based storytelling was employed…Past research has shown that getting consumers to consider a purchase or business relationship correlates to future sales..We found that people who were exposed to stories about brands had significantly higher levels of connection to, and trust in, those brands than people who were not exposed to stories; stories led to about a 4% increase in trust and self-brand connection. In addition, respondents who were more likely to “see themselves in the story” had greater willingness to consider the brand and felt higher levels of self-brand connection and trust.

How Consumers Respond to Stories
For would-be customers, we found that perceived authorship is important. Our research indicated that consumer-authored stories and stories jointly authored by consumers and companies had similar levels of impact — and both had more impact than stories authored by companies alone. On one level, it was surprising that consumer-authored stories didn’t have more impact than those jointly authored by consumers and companies, because we think of consumer stories as being more genuine. However, we found that, while people responded to consumer-sourced content, they also valued the legitimacy that came with the brand labeling. The good news for marketers is that they can post consumer stories on company-linked social media pages and gain the benefits of genuine stories without completely forfeiting control over content. Consumers, too, gain from coauthored stories because they can be assured the stories are legitimate when they appear on a trusted brand site.

Leveraging Consumers’ Stories
Our research findings indicate that consumer storytelling is a powerful tool for brand preference. Given this, how does a company implement a consumer narrative strategy? We propose four steps.

1. Work with consumers to generate believable and compelling stories. By examining comments on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites, you should be able to find leads to consumer stories about your brand that you can follow up on. It’s a little like curating an art show: You need to find the best examples and work with storytellers to deliver the right message. Third-party fan sites provide another source of potential content. Customer-facing employees also may help identify additional material.

2. Convert stories into high-quality presentations. There’s a difference between high quality and “slick.” Video stories about consumers on the brand’s social media pages are most effective when they are consistent with consumer expectations for media quality. Although high-quality video can make strong impressions with potential customers, there is an important caveat: If the finished product is too polished or professional looking, it may be perceived as brand authored, which can undermine the feeling of consumer authenticity.

3. Embed stories in your social media mix. Posting videos of customer stories on your brand website means they will be perceived as coauthored by the consumer and the brand. Use true consumer stories and present them through your branded social media channels (for example, your YouTube channel and Facebook page) to maximize impact. Encourage comments, sharing, elaboration, and the creation of consumer-to-brand and consumer-to-consumer information chains across your array of social media. Complementary stories with positive messages can be distributed across a range of sites.

4. Integrate paid media strategies with voluntary sharing of stories on social media. Traditional media strategies designed for TV can effectively overlap with story-based consumer content generated for social media.

The social media revolution raises important questions for the future of brand marketing in the digital world — where everyone has a voice and consumers are heavily influenced by the judgment of other consumers. Our research indicates that marketers can influence consumer-to-consumer interactions by leveraging consumer-authored stories online as important elements of their brand strategy. Using coauthored stories can give brands a measure of control over their messaging while maintaining the sense of genuineness in consumer narratives. Coauthored stories shared on social media can also be synergistic with TV advertising, which can establish the company’s core brand positioning and drive people to the company’s social media sites.


Written by Rich and Co.

June 24, 2017 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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