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Emotions: The Most Important Element in our Storytelling

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“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.” Maya Angelou

In the social media marketing community, there are a lot of strategies we use to connect with our audience, multiple ways in which we share content, and different content types we utilize to share a brand’s story.

But there is none as important as the element of emotions in all that we do, specifically, storytelling. Maya Angelou knew that what connects us runs much deeper than our words or actions, it’s the human connection that makes us bond, makes us fall in love, and endears us to anything in life.

This human connection is emotions and the imparting of it in how we connect with one another online.

About a month ago, I presented a keynote at the Social Media Strategies Summit in NYC about this very topic, and I want to break it down for you because this message explains the foundational element of social media, how we use it to interact, how it assists us to develop relationships, and inevitably promote our businesses.

Take a moment with me to think of the people most loved in your life. See their faces, remember their voices, the way they look when they’re happy, the things they like and those they do not. I bet these people have an abundance of excellent character traits, but when it comes down to it, it’s how they make you feel about yourself or how you feel around them that makes them so special.

This feeling is one you should hold onto as I continue to explain why emotions play such a crucial part in social media storytelling. Because when we get all caught up in the data and conversions related to social media, we forget that the people we’re dealing with everyday are just like those we care most about. They are the humans on the other side.

But first, let’s take a step back and review.

Why is storytelling important to social media?

1. Endears us 

2. Helps us to remember 

When you think of puppies and clydesdale horses, what brand do you think of? If you guessed Budweiser then you’re right! We all remember the lost puppy commercial for Budweiser from this year’s Super Bowl because it pained us to see this puppy lost, and then we rejoiced when he made it back. That story helped us to remember Budweiser simply by pulling on our heart strings.

3. Develops trust and credibility 

Without understanding the story of a brand, we won’t ever get to know it. And if we don’t feel like we know a brand then we will never develop feelings for it.

4. Humanizes 

There is a human element to every business, but we must share that if we ever want to humanize it into a brand.

And what is a brand? My definition is simple: it’s a business who’s learned how to make its customers and online audience feel something about it. It’s crossed the threshold of just being another business selling something.

But the deal is, NONE of these points are possible without emotions being an active part of that storytelling. If we aren’t finding our way into the hearts and mind of our audience then our stories will never be successful.

Why are emotions important to storytelling?

1. Makes a story relatable

If a story isn’t relatable, then its hard to.. (next point)

2. Create a connection

A connection is necessary for people to feel something. Do you hang out with people you don’t feel connected to? No.

3. Establishes loyalty

Brand loyalty cannot exist without a person feeling for a product/service because there are plenty of other similar products/services available.

4. Humanizes a story

We can tell stories all day, but without emotions they fall short. Similar to a lackluster story told by a friend – it doesn’t keep our attention unless there’s emotion involved.

But wait a minute – business and emotions don’t mix! At least, that’s what I’ve heard many business owners say, but oh yes they do!! Why?

1. Emotions are the primary drivers of ALL of our online and offline actions. They’re involved in every decision we make, especially when it comes to purchases.

2. Emotional benefits make a business special. Why? Because… The rational elements of a business do little to differentiate itself from the competition. Considering going to the store to pick up eggs. They’re basically all the exact same, but we buy under the guise of wanting to feel good about how the chicken are raised versus just nabbing the cheap ones. Right?

So now that you understand WHY emotions are critical, HOW will you implement them into your storytelling?

1. Discover what your audience wants from you, beyond the features.

Every buyer is looking for a particular set of features in a product or service, but they’re also wanting to emotionally connect with it. Think about it – we make purchases all the time on products that are made by a variety of brands, i.e. food, clothing, etc. yet we choose certain products for different reasons.

A good example is restaurants. A feature would be good food, but the emotional connection would be feeling at home, the food reminding you of your mother’s, feeling like you’re a part of the cool neighborhood it’s in or feeling comfortable.

I’m a mega foodie since I grew up in restaurants and typically know which ones offer good food. So when I make a decision to go out to eat, my #1 deciding factor is where I will be the most comfortable.

Our customers and clients can probably find whatever it is we’re selling in multiple places – we’ve got to find out what emotional benefits they’re looking for and then capitalize on them in our storytelling.

2. Develop and maintain a consistent brand voice.

Without a consistent brand voice to become familiar with, any brand will have a difficult time connecting with its audience. Think about it, we are most drawn to people who are consistently themselves, regardless of what that self is like. We trust and like consistency on an unconscious level, so if our stories are all over the place or the voice we use in which to tell them is constantly changing, we move away.

When we take one a new client with ARCH, they must sign a contract that says only ARCH Specialists will operate the social accounts. This isn’t done to take away control or be in charge, it’s to ensure that the brand voice remains consistent.

3. Personalize.

Our society is becoming obsessed with personalization – from the radio stations fashioned to our personal music tastes to VIP service – we love it. And that flows right into the stories we tell. We need to know exactly who our target audience is so that we can speak to them personally with our storytelling. Otherwise, even the best stories will fall flat.

4. Ask questions.

I read that questions in social media are dead, especially on Facebook, and I’m like – are you crazy??? People LOVE to talk, share, voice their opinion, and show what they know. We can tell the coolest stories all day long, but if we don’t invite them into the conversation and find ways to make our stories interactive, then we’ll miss out on opportunities to develop lasting relationships.

5. Hone in on extreme emotions.

By this I mean, let’s make people laugh and make them cry. No matter how busy I am during my day, if I come across something that looks funny I’ll stop and check it out. Why? Because life is busy and chaotic, and can always use an excuse to laugh. And our audience is the same way. Utilizing humor in our storytelling seems like a no-brainer, but many businesses sidestep it for fear they’ll upset someone. But we’ve got to step out to find out. If it matches the brand, then all is well.

By making people cry, I don’t necessarily mean that literally. I’m saying, let’s touch on the softer emotions – empathy and compassion. We can take a bland product like a pacemaker and pair it with a story about a man who lost his job and was on the verge of losing his family home, but was able to regain everything after one operation. All of a sudden, we feel something for that pacemaker. And that is the power of emotions in our storytelling.

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