How to tell a social media story people care about

It’s a common thought that you need to adapt your identity to fit into the new marketing landscape – but by remaining truthful to your brand essence the process of reaching a new audience can be considerably less painful, writes Director for Social Media Strategy Michi MacLennan.

If the Average Joe was asked to point to the sort of brand that will be a smash success on social media platforms such as Twitter and the like, it’s unlikely that they would pipe up with The Museum of English Rural Life.

And yet, to use that overused term, recently they have been going ‘viral’. And not just once, but repeatedly. What’s their secret? It’s something that is widely discussed but usually not understood enough when it comes to the nitty gritty of how brands present themselves on social media.


It’s something that we encounter over and over again every time we visit our favourite platforms, but given the quick nature of the medium it’s often ignored when it comes to publishing. We think of audiences as having limited time, so therefore everything needs to be expressed and understood within a single short post.

However, arouse their curiosity and you can get over 43,000 likes (and 20,000 shares) while demanding people to go on a journey that begins with ‘depressing office furniture’:

Ok, we found something amazing and we demand you to come on a journey with us:

— The Museum of English Rural Life (@TheMERL)

 October 6, 2018

From my quick calculations this earned them an amazing potential reach of over 100 million for October so far:

How to tell a social media story – graph

It’s not just that they tell their story well, though they do. It is that they place confidence in their audience to have an interest in the same things they do, and to stick with something when they’re being spoken to with an authentic and knowledgeable voice.

There’s a brilliant and positive message here. What your company does might be generally considered as dull and boring, but if it is something that excites you then there will be others out there interested to find out more – not necessarily because they themselves would be enthralled doing a similar thing, but because enthusiasm is infectious, especially when it is well expressed.

So much of brand communications is a box-ticking exercise that flows past its audience like white noise, doing what it needs to in an inoffensive and distinctly forgettable manner. It has been reckoned that people usually see more than 5000 ads per day – how many can you recall out of the ones you had seen today? Presenting a rollicking good tale is not only more memorable: it is more fun, and helps you rediscover why you are doing what you are doing, before passing that curiosity on to your next biggest fan. It’s the essence of communications, and it ought to be the essence of your brand too. (If you need any assistance locating that, feel free to drop me an email.)

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