When people come to me for help with social media I tell them we can’t talk about that without having a discussion on content and we can’t have a discussion on either until we make sure they’ve got their story straight. The first look I get is one of surprise, but once they understand more what the digital ecosystem is all about they get it. You can’t build a brand without getting your story straight and until you do that you can’t get clear on your brand voice which is how you will speak when you share on social networks.
You can’t build a brand without getting your story straight.
This is not a new concept in branding and marketing. The same held true before the internet when we were dealing with print, radio and television properties. But I find again and again that there is something about digital that makes people’s eyes get glassy. It could be that it seems intangible but then technically so is radio and television. Whatever it is they get so focused on the social networks, SEO and email strategies and how they will leverage them that they forget it all starts with story. That is not to say all these tools are not worthy of your attention, but they become useless without a clear and compelling story.
For a brand to be successful it was always important for their story to be crystal clear, but now that bar has been raised. Our world is filled with messages that come at us 24/7. If I have to think longer than a few seconds when you’re lucky enough that I landed on your website, I will leave. I’m too busy to have to figure it out. Our average attention span is now eight seconds and shrinking due to technology. But chances are if your story is not clear and your brand voice not engaging I’ll never even make it to your website.
If I have to think longer than a few seconds when you’re lucky enough that I landed on your website, I will leave.
This is true whether your brand is a product or service or if it is you. At the moment we have a White House who can’t seem to get their story straight. It adds confusion to an already confusing message and eats away at whatever trust one might have placed in them. When we don’t know what to expect from a brand and those who are speaking for it contradict each other we get uneasy and the brand’s credibility diminishes. In a world that is becoming increasingly skeptical staying true to your story and recognizing when it is evolving is more critical than ever if you want to build a long term relationship with your core customer.
This idea of getting clarity around your story is particularly challenging for personal brands and why I created my workbook, Getting Your Story Straight, 10 exercises to help you get clear on the story you want to tell, but I also see this happening with entrepreneurs and legacy brands trying to pivot. Often even when the story does get clear, the brand forgets that they also have to own it.
When the story does get clear, you still have to own it.
But people forget this. They rush to be on social networks without taking the time to think about their ‘voice.” They hire others to speak or write for them – which is all well and good – but only if those people are speaking in a voice that is true to the story. They forget the point of using social media is to engage and be social. And then they wonder why all this ‘social stuff’ isn’t working. Chances are it’s because they forgot step number one – getting their personal brand story straight.