Everyone has a story to tell is an old adage on something that is very true about both people and businesses. Each one is unique, and is what it is because of many different factors leading up to the present day. One great thing about a good story is that it sells. People have been telling each other stories since long before we were able to write them down. Your company tells them, your children tell them(not usually true ones), you tell them, and that strange guy at the bar that doesn’t go home tells them too. If you notice something about those on top it’s that they all tell you a narrative about how they got there. Politicians, major companies, actors, businessmen, etc. you know the setting, the exposition, the plot, and characters in their script. The future of SEO and business will be about this emotional connection, and in many ways already is. Let’s look at why you should tell a story.
Let’s keep the discussion to business here. Think of all of the big brands that you can in 20 seconds and write them down. I bet it is something like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nike, Google, Microsoft, and the like. The thing they all have in common is that we know their story. Especially the newer ones. Where they come from, what their message is, how they started, and where they are going. We know that one was founded in a garage, another was a college project, another was from a doctor, and the other was from a scary clown with strange face paint. The average consumer processes 100,500 words every day on the web, so you need to give them something to latch on to. By giving people characters, and a narrative, they have something to follow so they can make sense of it all.
Tip: Consider using specific mascots or characters in your brand. A fascinating character study where brands used a mascot in an ad on social media produced these results:
- M&M’s: 82% boost in shares.
- Frosted Flakes: 279% boost in shares.
- Keebler: 203% boost in share.
- Charmin: 585% boost in shares.
Modern consumers don’t like the hard sell
The old way of selling things door to door telling people that they need it is gone(except for the Mormons and the Jehovah’s). The modern day consumer does not want, and will not respond to a hard sell. They need an emotional connection, and want to know that they are part of the brand’s lifestyle. They want to feel like they are part of a movement. Think of successful brands that have used this to their advantage: CrossFit, Tough Mudder races, American Express, Starbucks. Whether it is a healthy lifestyle, small business promotion, fair trade, or whatever else, these brands own social media because they make consumers feel like they are part of something. Amex saw a 9% increase in sales; CrossFit, a company that started in 2000 but was mostly relegated to a small niche, saw an EXPLOSION in searches after 2011 after they started getting popular on social media.
Tip: Use videos and visuals. StacksAndStakcs reported a 144% differential in purchases between those who watched their video, and those that didn’t.
The future of SEO
The authenticity, transparency, emotion, and influence of a company or brand that has a story to tell is undeniable. When you have continual content that strikes a chord with an audience and moves them to share, it creates a powerful organic SEO avalanche with ripple effects that translate to growth. With the rise in importance of social sharing, as is evident in Google’s bias toward big brands and the $23.68 billion dollars that will be spent on social media marketing, the only way you can stay relevant is by generating buzz. People can’t share something that doesn’t have an identity. You need a hero, you need a name that can be focused on. The only way you can compete in search rankings is to start focusing on building your brand, and improving your services. Focusing on getting higher rankings won’t work. You can’t compete with Coca-Cola.
Tip: when you find an identity for your content, stick with it. People stop reading when you don’t stay on topic.
In short, the future of SEO is in creating a brand, and becoming visible to the public. You want people to feel like they are part of your movement. You want them to feel like they are part of your story. Give them something to identify with. Storytelling works, and has made many companies very rich. Not only that, but it helps you focus on improving your services and brand rather than solely focusing on improving rankings. You won’t be able to compete with the big dogs in spending, you need to outwork them. Make an emotional connection, and get to the top.