Social media starts with stories, and stories are a critical part of the customer experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to mavens, socialites, or homebodies — you are still telling a story. Your story will tap into communities, some stronger than others, and those communities will spread your story if you tell it in the correct context. Successful social media brands and people are not pushing a message, they’re sharing a story.
Take for instance, General Electric’s presence on Vine. GE’s customers aren’t on Vine, but that doesn’t stop them from creating viral stories that support their brand. On Sept. 9, the company started a meme around #gravityday. The premise was that an apple would drop from above, the user would interact with it, then drop the apple below off screen. When these Vines were displayed in succession, the apple was seemingly falling through a series of Vines, each one telling its own story with the apple, but as a part of the greater #gravityday story.
GE gave the audience control of the story to allow it to spread. (This is a factor discovered in the content sharing matrix.) The ubiquitous participation created a buzz about the brand. The stories that were generated earned media coverage and supported the innovative and scientific qualities of the brand. It may not be selling jet engines or refrigerators, but the act as a whole is branding the company.
This is why stories and social media are so powerful. GE understood who its audience was on Vine, as well as the platform’s creative constraints. Combined, it was able to get its audience to develop consumer-generated content around the brand, which enabled it to spread.
While Vine may be the last place GE would find a customer, the buzz derived from its activities on the platform do support its brand values and earned media may catch the eye of customers elsewhere.