Why brands should strive to be story sharers as much as storytellers

Since the dawn of time, from primitive paintings in the Lascaux cave complex to blockbusters at the local multiplex, we’ve been telling each other stories.

Because storytelling is powerful. It’s primal. As humans, we crave it. It’s something unique to our species. It’s what makes us who we are.

The emotional responses stories evoke is why their use in marketing can be so impactful. A story that truly resonates, that transcends the medium, can shoot a brand into the stratosphere – John Lewis anyone?

But what is interesting is how the power of storytelling in marketing is shifting. The author of the story is now king, not the tale they tell.


Let your audience tell your story

Human connection and storytelling are intertwined. After all, oral storytelling has been key to our language development and social evolution.

In marketing, this human connection, through stories, can be similarly transformative – now more than ever.

Mailmunch conducted some recent research on the top content distribution strategies for 2018. Here are their results:

Content distribution channels 2017

And what does that biggest blue 26% chunk of pie say? Influencer marketing. The most effective strategy for distributing content is audience-led.

So, what does this mean for storytelling?

It means the best stories, the stories that will be the most relevant, the most engaging, that spark the most conversations and conversions will be created by your customers.

Brand-led stories, told from the top down, that only see their audience as consumers of content and not as contributors in their own right, will struggle to achieve the highest reach.

If you allow your customers to connect on a human level, enable them to create, tell and share their own stories, they will ultimately tell your brand story by default. And with it, a deeper, more meaningful customer-brand can relationship can flourish.

Bottom line: brands should focus more on becoming story sharers and let their customers be the storytellers.

One brand already story sharing successfully is Airbnb. Customers create their own video moments of the places they have travelled to and share them with the world, inspiring others to experience what they did. It’s C2C storytelling at its finest.

You may think it’s easy for brands like Airbnb to do this because of the product they offer – after all, unique experiences around the world are something that’s guaranteed to have an audience. But what of other brands with more challenging products? What of a service brand for example? Could they achieve story sharing effectively?

Our recent Customer Stories work with HomeServe has proven to us that this is possible. We created an accessible platform for genuine customer stories to shine through, inviting contributions and collaborations on a long-term customer-focused strategy. 

Storytelling will always have a place in marketing. But with story sharing between customers, brands are experiencing a transformation through human connection.

Picture of Alex Allston, Senior Copywriter at The Sharp Agency

Alex Allston

Senior Copywriter