March 26, 2023

Rachel Strella

The Social Media Sweet Spot: Storytelling, Community Building & Vulnerability

Social Media

What do a car accident, a copyright lawsuit, and a series of mental health concerns have in common? Not only are they some of the most popular and impactful topics on my blog, but they also showcase the power of storytelling, community building, and vulnerability. 

I recently delved into the psychology behind effective communication through a book called “Amplify Your Influence” by René Rodriguez. Reading it, I discovered the importance of storytelling and how it affects our brains. Rodriguez explains the reticular activating system (RAS), a network of neurons that filters incoming information and determines what is worth focusing on. By understanding the RAS, storytellers can create more engaging and compelling narratives that connect with their readers. In a world full of distractions, imagine the impact of talking to a fully present and engaged audience.

The RAS at Work

During a recent client meeting, we explored the importance of sustaining digital growth goals beyond the initial achievements. One effective strategy we discussed was community building on social media, which can play a pivotal role in retention. Community building is not about gaining exposure or driving traffic to a product or service. Instead, it's about creating a memorable and engaging experience for the audience, fostering a sense of community and belonging.

To illustrate the power of community building through storytelling, we used an example from the hit TV show "Pretty Little Liars." The show's creators established a strong community around the series, contributing to its success. The stars even took questions from fans on social media, fostering engagement and further growing the community. As a result, the show became the most-watched series on ABC Family, with a viewership of over 2.5 million.

To apply this approach, we suggested building a community around our client’s brand. By engaging with the audience on social media and involving them in the brand's storytelling, a loyal community can emerge and continue to be an asset for years to come. By creating a personalized and inclusive experience, the brand can encourage fans to become advocates, helping to promote and grow the community further.

Would You Like Ice With That?

A powerful example of a story that used social media for impact is the Ice Bucket Challenge, which went viral on social media in 2014. It involved pouring a bucket of ice water over one's head and challenging others to do the same or donate to the ALS Association, which supports research and assistance for people with ALS.

Started by Pete Frates, a former baseball player with ALS, the challenge gained momentum as it spread on social media. Celebrities and public figures joined in and encouraged others to participate.

Thanks to the massive support generated by the challenge, the ALS Association received over $115 million in donations, funding vital research and support services for people living with ALS. The challenge also raised awareness of the disease and its impact on individuals and their families, inspiring a community to come together and make a difference through the power of storytelling on social media.

What About Vulnerability?

If you’re familiar with my blog posts, you know I encourage individuals and brands to embrace vulnerability as a way to build trust. I learned early on in business that we don’t have to have all of the answers. We just need to be real

An example of vulnerability in social media leading to trust is Brené Brown, who has gained a significant following by sharing her personal experiences with vulnerability and shame.

Brown's TED talk on vulnerability has been viewed over 60 million times, and she has authored several best-selling books on the topic. Through her work, Brown has created a community of followers who resonate with her message of the power of vulnerability and the importance of connection and belonging.

By sharing her own struggles and experiences, Brown has created a space for others to feel seen and heard, and she has established trust with her audience. This trust has led to a devoted following and a community of people inspired by her message and committed to living more authentically and vulnerably in their own lives.

I’ve personally told many vulnerable stories, and while I was initially intimidated to share my thoughts, my community came to my rescue (to my delight)! In fact, I’ll be sharing my most vulnerable project yet in the coming weeks. Stay tuned! 😉

Trust Accelerated

When we tell stories and show vulnerability, something magical happens — we create strong connections and earn trust. We can all learn how to communicate effectively and engage with others on social media by understanding the psychology behind it. By doing this, we can create meaningful experiences people will remember and build loyal communities. It's important to remember that by sharing our personal experiences and being vulnerable, we can connect with others on a deeper level and inspire positive change together.

Your turn: In what ways has your brand shown vulnerability and nurtured real connections with your audience? If you haven’t taken that step yet and want to explore how to form a loyal community based on trust and authenticity, contact us!

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