Rather than prompting their customers to “Tell us why James Avery is the best!” the jewelry maker asks customers to share stories of life, love, and faith, which are the three pillars of the brand’s mission statement: “To share life, love and faith through the beauty of design.”
Stories let customers discuss things they’re already eager to share with the world, in connection with a brand. PETCO’s “Howl-o-ween” campaign invited customers to upload pictures and stories of their pets’ Halloween costumes. In facilitating this fun online show-and-tell, PETCO further associated its brand with the pet-lover community, strengthening the emotional bond between brand and customer.
These stories don’t always need to involve the brand or a product to build these associations. Client CVS Caremark launched their “For All the Ways you Care” campaign in early 2009, encouraging stories about hospice caregivers and the challenges and triumphs they face each day. The campaign built associations between CVS Caremark – which provides more prescriptions than any other pharmacy – and caregivers, without asking writers to talk about the CVS brand.
2. Stories add a human dimension to your products.
James Avery pushes the emotional content of their customer stories beyond the campaign into additional marketing activities. In addition to requesting stories in print ads and on in-store signage, the brand also features the campaign on their Facebook page. Customers are encouraged to submit their stories, vote for favorites, and share them with their Facebook friends, all from within the James Avery Facebook page. Two-way syndication allows Facebook submissions to appear on the James Avery website, and vice versa, maximizing the impact of customers’ words.
Too many brands jump into social media and immediately start selling. But it’s called social media for a reason – people want to be talked to, not talked at. James Avery’s Facebook integration respects the conversational context of the social network, asking customers to tell their stories and others to respond. In other words, they’re playing by the rules of social media – creating a dialog rather than pushing their own messaging.
Incorporating user-generated content into branded Facebook presences turns contributors into brand promoters. Customers can share their own stories and stories they like with their Facebook friends, bringing the James Avery brand to their networks in a meaningful way. Benefit Cosmetics allows users to do the same with ratings and reviews on their Facebook page.
Stories allow customers to establish meaningful, emotional connections with brands. They add an authentic human element to products that product descriptions and marketing copy could never achieve.