Storytelling is a specialized subset of communication. And communication requires two parts to complete a circuit of meaning — you need a speaker (writer, artist, Martha Graham-type interpretive dancer, etc.) and a perceiver. Then those two halves switch sides so information flows both ways. Then and only then do you get engagement.
You, my darling little alpaca, only have control of one half of that circuit. What do I mean? Gather ‘round and let Auntie Steph tell y’all a tale.
I used to be shy. I know! I know. Keep the laughter down. It’s true. I was a little country mouse of a thing, quiet and unsure, and as a result, I tended to keep my head down and spend time in my own brain in the time honored tradition of nerds everywhere. Then my nemesis, frustrated and about to shove me in my locker yet again, asked me why I was such a snob. My quiet and my neutral expressions hadn’t come across as timid, y’all. They’d come across as judge-y.
Once I started, y’know, making eye contact? And smiling? And engaging with other humans? My whole life changed. Now you can’t shut me up — and now that “nemesis” is a close friend. Close enough I wore a truly hideous bridesmaid dress at her wedding.
(No, there won’t be a picture. I mean hid. Eee. Us.)
I reached out to change the perception, because I could only control my half of the circuit — but I listened to the other half, too.
Same thing with your online biz writing. You can’t own both sides of the circuit. But you better be paying attention to both sides of that circuit. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? C’mon, they call it “social media” not “shouting into an uncaring void.” And yet, you’d be amazed how many brands do just that. Shout into the void, never engaging or listening.
If you’re doing that? You are one of the brands behaving badly. No, I’m not going to name names. Instead, let’s take a look at the folks doing it right, one each on a different social platform.
Eat24 has a truly epic Twitter account. They respond. They retweet. They love bacon just as much as the rest of the internet. And they rock the hashtag #nopants to point out that you can have food brought to you almost all the way to the couch in a glorious celebration of sloth. Can’t lie to y’all; I’m about to use them to order dinner after this.
Denny’s has the sort of Tumblr account that makes other brands scratch their heads, but the natives love and adore it. The Daily Dot even called ‘em Tumblr’s Diner. They take full advantage of the .gif-rich environment and watch trends to stay on top of interaction. Come to think of it, they also love bacon. Hmm.
Oreo pretty much knocks it out of the park on Facebook. They posted 100 fantastic ads in 100 days for their 100th anniversary, and responded to comments the whole time. As of this writing they’re sitting pretty with 37,938,651 likes. That’s a lot of cookies. (But no bacon.)
What do these brands have in common? They engage. Both halves of the circuit. Sometimes they talk, and sometimes they listen. Thus do they reign triumphant. Get on out there and conquer your own realms of interactive badassery.