We all use libraries—even if you haven’t read a novel in years. I’m not talking about the neighborhood lending libraries popping up in front of houses or the thriving community libraries we remember from childhood. These libraries are abstract, limitless, and just as important.
I’m talking about the story library each of us carries in our head, waiting for the right moment to share. It’s the library we access when we’re having a conversation and we want to share something special—something relevant to the person we’re talking to. It’s sharing products or information that will make our friends’ and family’s experiences more interesting or their lives a bit easier. It’s a story with information we maintain in our head and share from our hearts. It doesn’t have to be momentous; it can be a story about a skincare product you really like or a store that has interesting products.
Every time we experience something positive or impactful, we surround that experience with:
- An intro: The “Why I need to tell you” initiation
- A story: The “OMG I just…” or “It was amazing …” middle
- A conclusion: The “Why you need to experience it too” summary
We all have stories, but Influencers are those who move people to action. They know how to harness what we already naturally do in our everyday lives. The way we define Influencers is different from those who define it by the number of social media followers you have. Influencers are not “social celebrities” and they would never accept any kind of monetary compensation for their time or recommendation (so you can nix the false promotions of Instagram stars from your definition). These Influencers are people who derive pleasure from having a conversation face-to-face and telling you something they think you need to know to make your life better.
On the reception side, traditional marketing strategies don’t hold a candle to the power of Influencer marketing. While less than 50% of consumers trust the word of an ad they see on late-night TV or hear on the radio on the way to work, 92% of consumers trust the word of family and friends. This is because we inherently trust the people closest to us to have our best interest in mind…why else would they recommend a product or service?
For most of us, and particularly for Influencers, our story libraries consist of volumes we’ve collected over time. We shelve new stories in our library under recent acquisitions. Then we note all the people we have to share it with. When we see them, we check it out of our library and wait for the right moment to tell it: proving the power of having an authentic and relevant Story.
Some stories in our libraries have sat on a shelf for most of our lives, but they haven’t collected dust. Think about a trip you took when you were in your twenties. It might be 20 years later, but you haven’t forgotten that trip or the things that made it special. What happens when you hear someone else is going to the same place? You immediately check that story out of your library and share it. Why? Influencers want other people to have the same positive experience they did. It doesn’t matter how old the story is, as long as it’s still relevant.
Why is this so important to marketers?
Because you want—no, you need—your brand story to be part of as many libraries as possible. You want your story to get checked out of the library all the time. Imagine a world where your brand story is shared thousands of times across months—even years—if your brand story stays relevant. It’s part of the Holy Grail of micromarketing.
Marketers can harness the power of Influencers through the shareable Story. You want to get people talking about your business, the same way Bud Light got people talking about their beer through their “Dilly Dilly” campaign. Instead of airing an ad that played on someone’s desire to have a beer, they drew in the interest of curious viewers and created something to talk about. Droplets of water clinging to an ice-cold beer might appeal to the more sensory part of our brains, but an anachronistic, concise, and humorous ad is going to be the one you’ll remember days, weeks, even months ahead. If your Story is right, your audience will happily share it with the people they know will be interested, for as long as there are people interested in listening.
Designing a brand story that becomes a favorite volume among influencers isn’t easy. It’s more than talking about a product or creating an experience that people are likely to share. It’s more than creating a weird, crazy commercial that makes no sense in the context of your brand. A successful shareable story is one that distills a message of your product or service and sets it apart from everything else.
But that’s a story in my library for another day.