The next stop for Talking Content is an interview with Ekaterina Walter, author, speaker and social influencer.
Ekaterina is a recognized business and marketing thought leader, and a regular contributor to leading-edge print and online publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur. Her latest book, The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand (pictured above with co-author Jessica Gioglio), becomes the focus for our conversation on how storytelling can help businesses connect, engage and sell.
Six questions, six answers…lets get down to it:
Why is storytelling important for business?
People love stories. We are wired to connect with stories. In the age of “infobesity,” visual storytelling has especially emerged as a powerful strategy to help marketers stand above the noise and grow a vibrant and engaged community. Consumers are faced with more messages and calls to action than ever before. Human brain processes visuals 60,000X faster than text. And with the attention span shrinking very year (now 2-8 seconds), in order for marketers to cut through the clutter, they need to focus on creating and curating the best quality content that offers value to their consumers and brings them into the conversation. Leveraging storytelling (especially visual storytelling) will allow marketers to not only get noticed, but to truly connect with their audiences.
You stand for brands making an emotional and authentic connection. How can a B2B audience adopt this approach?
A lot of people distinguish between B2B and B2C when they talk about marketing. And yes, some tactics of building a community and content strategy will vary for the two audiences. But in the social economy the lines are blurred and it isn’t so much about B2B or B2C anymore. It is all about P2P now: person to person. Even if you are a B2B company, you are not talking to a company, you are talking to a person. So no matter who you are, being authentic with the community you have means connecting on a personal level with each single member. And it means caring, truly caring, about your customers (both current and potential).
Companies believe they don’t have a story to tell, just products to sell. Do all brands have a story?
Every single company, no matter how small or large, has a story to tell. A story about its birth, a story about its evolution, a story about its inventions, a story about its passions (yes, every company has a passion: technology, kids, earth, the list goes on), a story about their inventions, a story about its employees and their individual stories. But the biggest story is the story of its mission, its purpose, the “why” of their existence. That ties back to the passion that started it all, the passion that drove company’s founders and sparked their own journey.
What is the biggest mistake companies make when using visual content to engage with others?
Not understanding the audience and ignoring the context.
To create relevant content you need to know your customers, you need to deeply understand them, you need to care about them, you need to be “them.” Once you have that, don’t miss the context. The context of the platforms on which you share your content is critical: Tumblr users are young and they love GIFs, Pinterest users are predominantly female and they love beautiful images married with valuable information, Google+ users are heavily techies and they are looking to engage with a similar audience, etc. The context of a situation is no less important: what are people talking about right now and how do I get plugged into the relevant conversations right now in the most effective and the most natural way, without disrupting the conversation and looking out of place?
How can visual content connect and grow an audience in an information saturated world?
Research shows that social media content that includes visuals performs much better than text-only content from an engagement standpoint. For example, posts that include a photo or album on Facebook receive 120-180% more engagement, while viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video. Articles with images get 94% more total views.
For example, you asked about B2B. Did you know that 91% of B2B companies are now using content marketing tactics to reach their target audiences. From thought-leadership to lead generation, boosting website traffic, and more, there are some incredible visual storytellers out there. Tools like SlideShare presentations can help delve deeper into company offerings or raise the visibility of key executives. Infographics can be a powerful communications vehicle for thought leadership data. Quotes from executives can be overlaid on an images and shared across social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to inspire current and prospective customers. Video can also be leveraged for product demos, or to rally a customer community around key company values.
For example, when Boston-area company GotVMail, wanted to re-brand itself as Grasshopper, the company turned to video. Grasshopper, which promotes itself as the Entrepreneur’s phone system, created an inspirational video for its YouTube channel called “Entrepreneurs can change the world.” With more than 1.1 million views on YouTube the video became a viral sensation and started a movement. As a result of the video, Grasshopper significantly grew the company’s social media communities, secured multiple national TV placements and successfully drove traffic to the company’s website learn more and ultimately purchase their phone service.
Who are the voices in the content marketing world that you admire?
There are a lot of people I know and admire that produce amazing content, it’s tough to just name a few.
Thanks to Ekaterina for her time and helping build the ‘Talking Content’ journey for us all to understand best practice with content marketing.
Why not find out more and connect with Ekaterina:
Ekaterina on Twitter: click here
Her website: click here
Her book, Think Like Zuck: click here
Her book, The Power Of Visual Storytelling: click here