Humanity has come a long way since the days of cave living and hunting mammoth. No matter where we traveled, what technology we developed, or how many monuments to the stars and gods we built, we kept one small, vital practice intact. Story telling.
We were once quite cozy. Cave and small dwelling living created tight quarters that left no room for modesty or secrets. Everyone knew everybody’s business and that’s how we lived. All anyone had to do was to glance over to the next fire ring to gain new information by sight, sound or scent. Later, tribes and sects, clans and small societies of people gathered around fires to talk, teach and decide important matters. These meetings and fire-side observations were how we communicated large amounts of information. Today we have a World Wide Web.
Storytelling is at the Heart of Social Media Marketing
The Internet swung the door wide open to a much bigger hearth. We can pick up a laptop and suddenly be gathered around the Grand Fire. It’s no longer necessary to dress appropriately in the right colors, or paint your face with tribe stripes. You can show up stark naked and nobody would ever know. Our new ways of communicating may permit us to speak and listen across great distances, but as many of you are discovering, the intimacy of our gathering together has disappeared.
Social networking can chip away at this loss by creating warm environments and granting space for self expression. Smart social marketers can tag along for ideas, relationships between people and ways to interact with specific verticals. For example, the art of story telling. The medium has changed but not our love for a good story.
Story Telling Is How We Communicate Our Shared Experiences
Both my mother and I have noses that turn bright red when we drink a tad too much wine. She also can tell some funny stories with a straight poker face. One day I brought home a brand new boyfriend to meet my parents for the first time. My younger sister was there too. Mom liked to serve dinner on the deck outside so here I sat, with my sister nearby for moral support. Dad observed, ate and drank his beer. Mom, feeling nostalgic and having had her wine, launched into a series of stories that started about when I was age 2. When she got into my teenage years, it was then my sister and I learned we hadn’t gotten away with what we thought we had gotten away with. (Sis and I regrouped later for a separate “Oh my freaking god! They knew?” moment.)
Back in the 1950’s, my newly married 19 year old parents (no kids yet) were living in a tiny cottage house in Michigan. Dad was a student working on his electronics engineering career. Mom stayed home, because in those days, that’s what many women did. She had no sense of money, budget, or the ways of life. One day while my father was away from the house, a vacuum cleaner salesman knocked on her door.
She was an easy sale. She didn’t have the heart to say no to the man. It was a Kirby – the very best vacuum cleaner on Earth. It had a gob of attachments and was powerful. Later that evening she showed off the $300 Kirby to my dad.
The rest of the story can’t be duplicated for you because by this time, mom’s nose was flaming red and we three kids were rolling off our chairs in absolute hysterics. Apparently my father was furious. They had a big fight but my mother kept insisting “it was a Kirby!” and worth that money. In the 1950’s, that was a huge chunk of change. They had no money for awhile after that because mom spent it on the Kirby.
After she shared the truth about the Kirby, my sister and I finally understood why we were forced to grow up with it. During the next 25 years, all kinds of vacuum cleaners that looked far easier to use were on the market. Our Kirby weighed about 20 pounds. It was ugly with an elephant trunk kind of head on it. All gray metal. And LOUD!
Years later, after my sister and I were married and started our own families, we discovered a new Hoover on a visit to my parents’ house. My sister scolded our mother for having hung onto the Kirby for so long. Turns out that Dad’s freak out left a huge impact on my mom. She vowed to use the Kirby until it died and she kept her promise to him.
Social Marketing Relationships and Connections
The story above is true and I chose it to give an example of how today’s social communication works in relation to social marketing. Placing a Kirby vacuum cleaner story on a blog will sadly attract poorly trained vacuum cleaner marketers who may drop spam into the comments area with something like, “Loved your vacuum cleaner story. Funny. I vacuumed my car the other day,” or something pathetic like that. A Kirby company representative, on the other hand, might find that same post and leave a comment such as, “Saw your post, Kim. I work for Kirby. Your mom must have had our blah blah model. Here’s a link to a photo of it. Thanks for the funny story.” While I’m not a fan of link drops, this one fits the topic and adds to the content. If I wanted, I could contact that commenter and ask permission to use their photo. We might work out a link exchange.
The same Kirby story would work on dating sites as content if I we seeking a place to write about dating nightmares, or perhaps a baby boomer networking site where it might be fun for members to look back in time at what life was like for them.
Rather than a flat article, telling personal stories brings us closer to the story teller. Some of the most popular bloggers achieve their authority status by being great story tellers. Some marketers may seek relationships by linking to authority blog posts or commenting. The goal is NOT to stop, spam and run. Relationships are born out of conversations and conversations are started by people skilled in starting and nurturing them.
There’s more to social marketing and creating natural content relationships. My next few articles will focus on them. For now, sit with us at Da Li Social as we pass around the Talking Stick every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Don’t be afraid to let us know you’re here. How do you establish relationships online? What kinds of information stick in your mind the most? Is it the information or how it’s delivered?