Using Social Media To Support Your Brand’s Storytelling

brand-storytelling-social-mediaEarning the respect and attention of your target audience simply is not as easy as it used to be. Years ago, brands could retain loyal consumers and attract new ones by creating reliable, useful products or services… But that isn’t always enough anymore. Now, brands need to have something we usually associate with sentient beings rather than companies: personality.

Building a brand’s personality isn’t an easy task, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be simple. In fact, there’s one very basic tactic brands can use that’s been relied upon for years and is relevant to the majority of the world’s population – storytelling. This story can link into anything, from the brand’s values or messaging to the lifestyles of its key demographic… To an extent, it doesn’t matter what it is based on. What matters is that the brand is making an effort to put some meat behind its name; to engage its target audience and produce meaningful, engaging stories.

Many brands have already caught onto this golden nugget and have gone one step further in the pursuit of building brand personality, by using social media to a) drive the story forward and b) allow their audience to actually help create the story through user-generated content. Here are some of the best examples…

Tourism Queensland’s ‘The Best Job in the World’

Back in 2009, Tourism Queensland launched a campaign with the aim of finding a BestJobintheWorldperson to fill ‘the best job in the world’ – being the caretaker of a remote island based just off the Great Barrier Reef. The successful candidate would live in a multi-million dollar home on the island, enjoy a AUD$150,000 salary and free transportation around the region. Applicants for the job were invited to apply by uploading a video to social media pages or a special website, but some candidates went above and beyond, creating entire Facebook groups or blogs to promote themselves.

The hashtag #GreatBarrierReef was established to support the campaign (which went viral) and some 35,000 people from 200 countries applied in total – a groundbreaking moment for the future of user-generated content. Briton Ben Southall won the job, in the end. All in all, the campaign generated $200 million for Tourism Queensland, earned its advertising agency three awards and had a film made about it. However the benefits reached far beyond the profit.

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Tourism Queensland created a story about itself, the island and the overall region without having to lift a finger. Instead, it relied upon the power of social media and Joe Public to create the story, but managed to create international brand awareness and show itself to be a fun, rewarding brand – a legacy that will last far beyond the financial bonus. Plus, given that eight out of 10 people belonging to Gen Y say user-generated content actually influences the brands they trust, the campaign was quite frankly a stroke of genius.

Clinton Yates’ ‘#afternoonTwittertale’

Although he isn’t a company, Washington Post writer Clinton Yates has successfully boosted his own brand after inventing the Afternoon Twitter Tale. Accompanied by the hashtag ‘#afternoonTwittertale’, Yates will often begin a story in the afternoon, told in a tweet-by-tweet narrative. He invites others to do the same, posting under the same hashtag.

Oct 22 2010 12:23PM 7.06 cc420af7,This is storytelling in its most literal sense, sure and the way in which social media supports it is quite clear – but it’s definitely worth mentioning, given that it has further established Yates as an insightful writer whose stories are riveting. Demand for his stories is high. He’s a perfect example of someone who has used a story to boost his own story.

Topp Tiles’ ‘Show off your Style’

Earlier this year, Topps Tiles launched a competition to find the best amateur DIY-er Britain has to offer. Fronted by interior designer and TV personality Julia Kendall, the ‘Show off your Style’ campaign was social-centric. Britons were invited to upload photos or videos of their best DIY projects and upload it to Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter, before inviting their friends to vote for their entry. A Facebook app was created too, helping entrants to upload their media, whilst an online community page was created to tie everything together.

Not only did it give the nation a chance to see how Topp Tiles’ products could be used (sneaky!) but the campaign was based solely on user-generated content (1,000 images, to be exact) – content that can be used time and again in the future. It has heightened brand awareness and broadened its audience reach significantly.


Plus, the website had 35,000 visits over the two-month period the competition ran, 21,500 votes were cast and 500 new users registered for the Topps Tiles site. The brand now boasts 186 followers on Pinterest, 2,345 on Twitter and 2,688 Facebook likes. What’s more, Topps Tiles achieve 3,100 social media shares during the competition – all through asking its audience to tell their stories. Simples, huh?!

Thanks to, and Yates for the images

Comments: 4

  • Storytelling really humanizes your business. Right now, we have several methods of marketing to gain audiences and leads, but we forget that we also use the method of sharing experiences. Thank you for the insightful article!

  • When most people think about marketing, few tools they definitely take into consideration like print, radio, TV etc. Stories and art of storytelling play a very vital role in content marketing today. Marketing people mostly go for storytelling because of reasons like stories produces experiences, its reveals what makes your message unique etc.

  • Using the Great Barrier Reef as a brand exercise isn’t sound, they should be trying to protect the region from pollution and environmental damage. A lot of it caused by tourism. Hopefully they ran some environmental campaigns with it to highlight the effect overfishing will have on the local ecosystem.

  • James H. says:

    Even though storytelling via social media is a fun and wise way of communicating a personal message, it’s also an imminent danger if you’re not aware of your online reputation. Like Alex Morris mentioned, if Tourism Queensland was aware that their online reputation revealed lots of search results about environmental concerns, would they still consider a campaign like this to be in good taste?

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