Part of me thinks that emerging media and social media marketers are reading the same blogs to get ideas for content. Somewhere along the way, a company asked customers to tell their story in social media. Now, almost every major brand is used the “tell us your story!” line.
The call-to-action has become so routine that there’s now a Tumblr blog dedicated to the concept. Tell Us Your Story collects campaigns shared by readers who can submit images, in addition to the ones ad copywriter Brian Eden finds on his own.
According to Shel Holtz on Regan’s PR Daily, “You have to wonder how many people visiting Home Depot’s Facebook page will actually share their metal roofing story, as requested, or what kinds of stories Clorox might get from its request to share your “bleachable” moment. FinnAir wants your tale of travel on the airline, Flonase wants your allergy relief story, and UPS wants to know about your most memorable package ever. Glock is seeking stories about customers’ Glock handguns, Dunkin Donuts is seeking doughnut tales, and Pond’s is seeking skin care sagas. This barely scratches the surface. Olay, Levi’s, GNC, Nutella, Purina, Uber, Avis, Husqvarna, Dell, White Castle, Coors Light, Air France, Snapple, Secret deodorant, Wheat Thins, the NFL, the list goes on. And on. And on.”
Joe Lazauskas writes on Contently “that this strategy never seems to work. It’s a bizarrely self-centered request that doesn’t naturally occur in any social context. If anyone did this in real life, they’d never be invited out to dinner again. I’m not sure if some brand advertisers are that delusional about their importance in the universe or if it’s just an easy way for brands to fake a heartfelt social strategy and side-step the challenge of telling people stories about things they’re actually interested in.”
So…what are some alternatives to the “tell us your story” campaign?
- Read the messages people send to customer service. Customer service departments are the recipients of a ton of customer input both good and bad. Some people just have to share their great experience.
- Use your social listening/monitoring service. Track your brand/company and product names in social media. Use their stories as a testimonial.
- Ask your employees. In many situations, your employees are interacting directly with your customers. Thus, they become a great source of potential stories to share.
- Reach out to your brand ambassadors. More than likely, you know who your most vocal supporters are. Reach out to them individually and interview them. You’re bound to get more authentic stories from these engaged individuals.
- Survey your customers. Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch recommends a one-question survey that asks how likely it is the customer would recommend the company, product, or service. You can ask those most likely to recommend for permission to interview them or for a written testimonial.
- Get your biggest fans in the same room. Companies including Disney Parks, Dell and Ford have invested time and money bringing their brand ambassadors together in the same place. It’s a great opportunity to collect stories as they talk among themselves about their shared passion for your product.
What is the most awkward “Tell us your story!” story you’ve seen? How else do you think you can tell a customer’s story?