Celebrity Branding Online: How to Use the Internet to Tell Your Story
The emergence of the internet and the recent surging popularity of social media sites have changed things dramatically for small businesses. The internet has leveled the playing field in many ways, giving small businesses the opportunity to compete toe-to-toe with large competitors.
On the other hand, the relative ease by which a business can launch a website and create a social media presence means that there are a whole lot of businesses marketing themselves online.
This raises a simple but important question… how can you stand out from the crowd on the internet?
That’s a big question and I’m not going to pretend that I can give you the whole answer in just one short article! But I will share with you one very important strategy to do just that.
You can separate yourself from the competitors by telling a compelling story.
We all love stories. We like getting to know characters, we like watching them overcome challenges, and we like watching them grow. And if you can identify your story and learn to communicate it powerfully online, you’ll find that it’s possible to separate yourself from the competition.
Below are seven ways that you can use the internet to accomplish this goal:
1) Emphasize your key points of differentiation on your website and through social media. One of the most important functions of a good story for your business is that it creates a clear contrast between you and your competitors. These points of differentiation need to be emphasized throughout your internet presence. It may be your years of experience. It may be your completely unique product or service. It may be your fanatical devotion to customer service. Whatever your points of differentiation are, make sure you highlight them often!
2) Write blogs and articles that support your story. Writing blogs and articles is a great way to attract potential customers to your site—and also a great place to further tell your story. For example, let’s say you own a retirement planning firm, and part of your story includes your personal desire to help your clients enjoy a comfortable, stress-free retirement. If that’s the story you’re trying to tell, you could fill your blog entries and articles with practical tips and ideas—while always sticking to the theme of working towards a comfortable retirement. It doesn’t take much—just a sentence or two can be enough to connect your blogs and articles to the central story you are trying to tell.
3) Use pictures to illustrate your story—especially on Facebook and Instagram. A picture is worth a thousand words. This is especially true on the internet and on social media, where photos have been shown to outperform text posts and other links by a huge margin. Leverage this fascination by taking and sharing pictures that illustrate your story and flesh it out. The retirement planner we discussed in the example above could share pictures of himself and his team working closely with a retired husband and wife, for instance. Just make sure that the pictures represent yourself, your brand, and your business in a way that you’re happy with.
4) Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your social media presence. Interesting characters are essential to a good story. So in order to get your audience to take an interest in your story, it’s important to let them get to know you! And one way to do this is simply to be yourself on social media. Don’t be afraid to make jokes or root for your favorite sports team. Some of you know that I love to use Pinterest to share fashion ideas, home décor inspiration, and of course, anything and everything shoe-related! Don’t be afraid to be yourself and let your personality out of the box. Because nobody likes a story with a boring main character!
5) Leverage well-produced video on your website and on social media. We talked about the value of photos in telling your story—and video is even better. Video gives you the opportunity to bring your audience into your world and show them exactly who you are and what you do. But there is one major word of caution I have to share –poor quality video is very damaging to your brand. These days, almost everyone has access to quality equipment, so there is no excuse for posting a video that looks like it was shot on a cell phone 10 years ago. If you’re going to use video to tell your story, which I highly recommend, you have to be sure that you do it right!
6) Show growth and progress – don’t "stand still". Another common element in every good story is growth. Characters in great stories face challenges, overcome them, and often transform themselves in the process. Don’t be afraid to let your audience see you grow. Sure, you don’t want to post on Twitter every time something goes wrong with your business… but you can use social media to celebrate your victories and to let your audience see how you and your business are evolving.
7) Stay consistent – don’t contradict your story or your brand. Finally, one of the biggest problems that many business owners have with telling their story and developing their brand is inconsistency. This is a major challenge on the internet because there are simply so many different "places" that you have to be mindful of. Your website, your Facebook page, your LinkedIn profile, your Google+ page, listings on directories like Yelp… it goes on and on. If you aren’t careful, you will end up contradicting yourself—saying one thing on your website and another on Facebook, for instance. Stay disciplined and don’t undermine the story that you’re trying to tell.
Every business owner has a story to tell—and the internet is a fantastic tool for doing exactly that. I hope that these seven tips will help you communicate your story more effectively than ever before… and as always, please reach out to me if there is anything I can help you with!