Writing for the Huffington Post, author and business leader Peter Friedman brought up how businesses can create engaging relations with their customer bases through storytelling elements. Storytelling is one of the most ancient of human activities, and we all engage in story in our everyday lives, from viewing a TV show or movie, to recounting just what happened to us at work today. As a universal tool for creating community, finding ways to harness this for your business establishes a direct connection between providers and consumers. Here are a few of our favorite of his ideas:
Fan-supported Creation Contest
Asking the users of products or services to creatively show why they enjoy using them is a good way to get people involved in your business. There are many ways to get a customer base involved in a creation contest. Here’s a few examples:
- A library or bookstore could host a diorama contest, asking participants to recreate a scene from their favorite novel.
- App developers could ask their fans to write stories where a character uses the app, or if the app lends itself to photo or video manipulation, to create themed artwork.
- A restaurant could have wall space devoted to drawings done by customers on place mats or napkins, with new ones rotating in and replacing older ones.
Whatever product or service it is that you are selling, there is certainly a way that it could be creatively incorporated into a family friendly, creative activity.
Ask Questions on Social Media
If your business has a Twitter feed or Facebook page, consider asking a monthly or weekly question. These questions don’t always have to point back to your product or service, but can relate to it or just be a sort of ice breaker. Giving the people following your social media accounts a chance to talk with each other in a safe, open format will increase their sense of engagement with you and with other people who are interested in your business. Here’s a few examples:
- “What’s your favorite use for [your product or service]?”
- “When do you find you most wish you had [your product or service]?”
- “What’s your ideal vacation spot?”
Questions like these are a great chance to learn more about how your customers use your business, or what their personal interests are. It can also be an opportunity to reach out to dissatisfied customers, show that you are listening to their concerns, and doing your best to meet their expectations.
Plan Future Themed Content
If your business has a mascot or character associated with it (just think about insurance companies and you can’t help but remember an animal or actor to go along with them), plan ahead for what they’re doing. Even if you don’t have a mascot, try thinking about seasonal messaging for your product. Here are just a few suggestions:
- A mascot, employee, or even a stuffed animal might go on a months-long adventure in a series of photos taken around your local area and beyond.
- Artwork or photos showing how seasonal changes alter how the same people use your business or product.
- Once a month, release a clue to a multi-part riddle; when someone solves the riddle, feature the winner on social media.
These are just a few small examples of ways that you can use storytelling elements to strengthen your business’s community management. Story is a powerful tool, and it can become one of the most powerful tools in your community management arsenal.