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Storymaking: The Next Evolution in Content Marketing

Smart brands are turning consumers into evangelists - and publishers.
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Storytelling is a verb, and many brands believe that means they should be telling stories about their brand, which was just another method of spinning one-way advertising. True, a brand’s origin story (think of Apple, HP) can be useful, but the true power in storytelling is when brands create products and content that motivates audiences to talk about the brand and keep them top of mind in ways far less intrusive than traditional advertising.

So if there’s enough confusion about the definition of storytelling, then maybe we need a new word. David Berkowitz recently wrote in AdAge about something called storymaking—where the brand facilitates and taps into the stories people are creating and sharing with each other. You could call it the next evolution in storytelling, or maybe just a proper redefinition of the way brands should be marketing to their audiences. Regardless, storymaking is how brands today are activating their customers and turning them into not only evangelists but also publishers, and it can provide real results.

Here are three brands that are already doing some great creative storymaking:

1. BetaBrand If the Internet itself created a clothing brand, that would be BetaBrand. Instead of designing and producing clothes in the hope that customers will appreciate and buy them, BetaBrand uses the power of the social web to gauge customer interest before spending a dime on production. But what makes BetaBrand a storymaker is that it is quite literally a user-generated brand. While a portion of Betabrand designs come from its own designers and employees, many of them are from you and me, voted upon by the masses. Betabrand models are its customers, and you can even earn coupons by submitting your photos. Heck, they’re so fearless, they allowed me to be a model.

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2. GoPro It’s no surprise that a product like GoPro is leading the storymaking charge. GoPro changed the landscape of photography and videography when it created a product that was purpose-made to capture life’s most exhilarating moments. GoPro has become one of the most popular brands to follow on social media because of its amazingly visual content, and nearly all of it is captured and published by its passionate customer-base. GoPro puts its customers on a pedestal, resharing their content on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and more, allowing them to tell the brand’s story instead of the brand itself pumping dollars into billboards and TV ads. Its marketing success is a testament to building a product that allows its customers to see themselves in the brand (pun intended).

3. HoneyMaid HoneyMaid has done a fantastic job this past year of not only defining its brand story (the literal definition of storytelling) around the concept of “this is wholesome,” but also by becoming a storymaker. Its social channels are a sounding board for those who may not fit the traditional definition of “family” (and even those who do). When it faced criticism from a select few who didn’t agree with its wholesome campaign, it quite literally took those negative comments and turned them into a visual portrayal of love. HoneyMaid’s YouTube campaign is a storymaking classic, blending stories and content from customers and supporters with brand stories of its own.

What’s your favorite example of brand storymaking?

Jon Thomas is a Senior Digital Strategist at TracyLocke and frequent contributor to Say Daily. Follow him on Twitter @Its_JonT.

[Photo credit: The author (top right) and a friend storymaking for Betabrand]

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