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Dear brand on Facebook, don’t just tell me a story, tell me your story

I went through a friend’s timeline on Facebook the other day; we had been friends long before Facebook created a millionaire, so it was virtually real. I was interested in how her journey had tangled in with mine. How, like a terribly scripted RomCom staring Ashton Kutcher, we had come in and out of each other’s lives. However terribly scripted the story was, it was a story. A story I was interested in.

I spent a lot more time on this story, I invested in it. An hour of my day was up and I had been lost in a wormhole of lyrics and come-backs.

Everyone loves a story. The stories do differ. Some are liked, some aren’t, it’s all down to taste or target marketing even. In case you haven’t heard, content is a male monarch of some description, a brilliant monarch whose rise to the top is a tumultuous tale of wonder – a story for another time.

Does your brand have a story? I’d imagine it does. I trust when your grandfather starting making tractors in his tiny shed in Milwaukee with love and a toothpick, he didn’t realise this brand story was starting. Your grandfather had a story and he was John, John Deere. Actually this story stems from 1837 in a blacksmith shop, and now you want the full John Deere story, even if you aren’t two-toning it up in a mielie field in rural nowhereville. You are invested in a story — a John Deere Story.

Build me a viral
But for your own brand, you aren’t interested in that. You know that people enjoy memes. Make more memes. Make those memes viral. Viral, a word so vile I wish it were annexed in the gates of marketing hell, with SKUs.

We’ve stopped telling stories
We’re all refurbishing content so hard it’s like the ideas factories are spewing out the next big thing which is, The Beatles, sans Paul, John and George. Just Ringo, sitting in front of fans… asking them to like him.

Just like me
Do you often go around asking people to like you? Then why is it acceptable practice on Facebook? I was taught to write as you speak, as this is the method to engage an audience (yes, I do speak English like a four-year old Italian). It’s the engagement that makes the content creator’s nether-regions tingle in anticipation of the best possible reach, as Facebook’s EdgeRank throttles any exposure you’d like — a tightly closed fist, with a thumbs up kind of strangle.

Engaging people with clever words, audio, video or images that leave them little choice but to share is the aim. I am sure in some cases there are actually teams of people working hard to say exactly the same thing as their opposition.

A common thread throughout our social media realm is the ability to refurbish content from another source to make it work for you brand. We often see posts from the likes of 9Gag so badly watered down it nearly loses its meaning by the time a third brand has published a very similar thing.

Rudyard Kipling would soil himself at the thought of how often we are telling the same stories, just mildly differently. The fans are getting jittery as brands on all social media platforms tell them what they want to hear, not what they need to or would like to hear.

Brand pages give us the wonderful ability to tell stories about our brands, to entertain the audience.

Let’s stop telling other people’s story, shall we?

Tell our own wonderful, magical stories.

Image: niyam bhushan (via Flickr).

Author | Dale Ferreira

Dale Ferreira
Born barefoot in Boksburg and growing up in Welkom in the Free State, Dale has fought against all odds and managed to come out English. In 2011 he wanted to be involved in social media, and decided to reinvent and at 28 became the world’s oldest intern.... More
  • charline lind

    I would love to tell my storie, to leave for my grandchildren, how I became the godchild of the queen of england and when I met her in windhoek Namibia! But don’t know how to go about it! Charline lind

  • Carla

    Great article. I’m wondering how so many people on social media socialise, I would avoid most of them at a dinner party! Same rules apply guys, be real, be normal, use common social sense. If you’re socially awkward in real life then you shouldn’t be assigned to running your brand page. There, I said it.

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