Brands Stop Publishing Content on Facebook

Brands: Stop Publishing Content on Facebook!

Originally posted on The Digital Influence Mapping Project with John Bell

No, this isn’t another ‘Facebook as a disappointment’ story. It’s about how we best use Facebook or, more broadly, our content marketing.

With over 3.5 Billion pieces of content shared each week on Facebook, brands first impulse is to jump in and add another few thousand pieces of clutter to the fray. Many start by thinking about social networks as another platform to publish out news the brand feels is of interest.

Some get more sophisticated and actually start thinking about what types of content their customers and advocates would find most interesting and actionable. Some wrestle with brand character issues such as what the “voice” is of the publisher and how a page looks and works.

Many evolve to creating complex content calendars that aim to sort through all the potential content that could be published and dole it out in a sensible manner.  We look at the data and figure out what drives the most “People Talking About” metrics (engagement).

Start Publishing Stories

Few think about stories. Each content nugget is just that, an isolated nugget. It likely points to content elsewhere on an owned site. But for the most part each content unit is judged in it’s own. That’s where you see brands discovering some of the simple rules of social media like pictures drive more involvement than simple text blurbs, especially ones with no clear call-to-action.

If we are trying to drive behavior, we had best use the most persuasive means to do so.  That means story. And likely today in the social age, it means stories that people can get involved in. One of my key takeaways from talking with Thomas Gensemer from Blue State Digital following their successful work on the first “Obama for America” campaign was the idea of “story arcs” in their messaging or content strategy. Actually, they called them “email arcs.” I abstracted it up one level since many of us are now communicating with customers and constituents via many platforms beyond email. Story arcs are simply a series of content postings tied together in a story that drive people to some action or series of actions.

Let’s say that your brand is staging a kids DIY event like Carhartt did. Rather than simply inviting people to the store for the event, you might start by soliciting dream DIY projects from the fan base (parents), or what projects did they create when they were kids – the sort of thing that drives comments and even shares.  The “story” might all be around those parents giving their kids the gift of self-discovery and creativity. Then, of course, they celebrate what they made at the story by posting online. Carhartt owners (I own one) are ‘makers.’ Lets build stories for makers. Carhartt actually does do that. 

The emotional value of stories is stronger that orphaned content. If we are trying to drive behavior and even belief. We ought to be anchoring our content strategies in stories. The neurosciencemarketing blog has a great pov in general and this in particular,

“Researchers Philip Mazzocco and Melanie Green draw a contrast between rhetorical persuasion, in essence arguing with facts and logic, and the use of narratives to influence decisions. They conclude that stories are more effective at changing emotional beliefs that logical arguments have difficulty reaching.”

And as you think about what makes for great stories ,tons have been written on this bit I like this little summary from Phil Johnson in Forbes:

“Whether you’re working on a brand story, an advertising campaign, or standing up to talk at a conference, here are three suggestions:

  • If your story does not reveal something personal and unknown about the person or brand, it’s going to be boring.
  • If your story does not tap into a specific emotion – whether it be fear, desire, anger, or happiness – it will not move people to action.
  • If your story does not take people on a journey where there is a transformation between the beginning, middle, and the end, it’s not a story.

The best stories represent a simplicity of purpose and tap into the audience’s imagination so that they willingly go along for the journey. And the shortest ones can sometimes be the best. Ernest Hemingway famously wrote the six-word story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”