Social Media: How does it tell your brand's story?

We can all point to that first time we interacted with the "World Wide Web" in a way that was more than logging into AOL, listening to that glorious dial-up song, and playing fun weird games that only exist in the recesses of our memory. There comes a time in everyone's life when they first interacted with THE "Social Media." My social media life began with my first email address: DramaQuenGurl2839@msn.com and it began a snowball of email addresses relating to my favorite music artists, a host of AIM Screen names (TobyMacRox05, etc.) with always-changing "Buddy Icons" and "Buddy Profiles." From here I began the downward spiral into the depths of things like Geocities and LiveJournal, and I eventually ended up at the mother of all social media: MySpace. I loved myspace with such fervor that up until that point I had only ever experienced while playing The Sims. I spent an incredible amount of time choosing the classiest profile that I customized using my very limited knowledge of HTML. My blogs were written using strategic formatting in order to keep the attention of those who were reading it...writing key words in bold print and italicizing my emphasized conclusions were some of the most commonly used tactics. Occasionally I added pops of color where I wanted to convey a sense of fun and creativity, and, as a reference to the "scene" or "emo" cultures of the time, I would add {brackets} around phrases that acted as center points for my ever agonized and emotional thoughts. My profile song was chosen with care, in hopes that it would enhance user experience when they visited the myspace of {Leslie Eiler}. The bulletins acted as a community outreach through which I promoted my coffee shop shows, and my top 8 was always meditated upon as if changing it would make concrete my circle of friends. This began my love affair with social media.

{I was beginning to tell my story}

(It's obviously a key point.)

Then, I began to hear talks of this "new myspace" that all the college kids had, and you could only join by invite. We got our friend's cousin to invite us, and thus began my journey with Facebook. This is what it looked like when I logged on for the first time:



My process sounded something like, "Where are the HTML-fluent profile editing fields? Where are the profile songs? WHERE IS THE TOP 8?!"

But this was how we began to socialize. Inevitably, as it always has been and always will be, Facebook gained criticism from parents and haters alike.

"You're always on your tweet books and facespaces and aren't spending any time doing REAL things!"

Was this to become the fate of our generation and those after us? Mindless tweetbookers and facespacers? I don't think so. And here's why.

Sometimes we don't understand a thing's purpose until someone else who "gets it" explains it to us. Abstract art, for example, has to be one of the most befuddling concepts, of which I am one of the most obtuse observers. This installation in March of 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art features Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass box:

(ABC NEWS)

You can't see me in this picture, but I'm over in the corner like:

An article from the New York Daily News quotes a MoMa staff member as saying, "'There is no published schedule for its appearance, no artist's statement released, no museum statement beyond this brief context, no public profile or image issued, those who find it chance upon it for themselves, live and in real-shared-time: now we see it, now we don't." [Source]

AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT MAKES IT ART. "NOW WE SEE IT, NOW WE DON'T."

How do people get to be that smart?

Similarly, it wasn't until I finally heard creator Mark Zuckerberg talk about Facebook that I understood why it's important that we use it correctly. I watched the 2011 F8 Keynote address and I began to form the beginnings of an opinion about why Facebook and other forms of social media are beneficial. Watch him talk about it briefly here:

Facebook was created for us to live life, and share it with others. Facebook exists to {tell a story}. Furthermore, Daddy Facebook has been unabashedly vocal about his anger for our misuse of his creation when he commented on the misuse of Facebook during college finals in 2012:

“It’s gotten so bad that the site has almost crashed on multiple occasions,” Zuckerberg said. Aside from the keyword “finals”, Zuckerberg said he has also noticed absurdly high levels of use for the words “library”, “essay”, and “fml”. He hinted at the fact that he might even discontinue Facebook services for users aged 18-24 simply so that the country’s higher education system does not collapse altogether.

“If you all are really stressed about your academic workload, I have a suggestion for you,” Zuckerberg said as his patience was clearly wearing thin. “Ever consider closing your web browser and actually doing the work that is such a burden on your life? Sometimes I feel personally guilty for creating a drain effect on the nation’s intelligence.”

I was a senior in college trying to get through my last "final" and I know I had complained about it on Facebook. Ouch.

Around that time, MySpace underwent major changes and effectively re-designed and re-structured itself. Imagine my despair in the fall of 2012 when MySpace re-branded, leaving old profiles somewhere in the attic of "The Cloud" and replacing them with a sterile, lifeless, "techy" carcass. Imagine my grief when I found my blogs were gone, messages from friendships past erased and profile comments vanished. Where had my story gone? I felt as if a fire had destroyed my old scrapbooks and left nothing to show for it. They had erased the story I had taken years to write...that "manuscript" was gone. I felt like Jo March when Amy burned her manuscript. Little Women, anyone? I was, at the time, the Social Media Manager for the company I currently work for. I struggled at first with getting us to our "Likes" goal, engaging our customers, and making our page "work". However, in my personal Facebook experience, I was able to find inspiration from other business pages that were doing it beautifully. One such business page, Girls Gone Strong, began as a gathering of female fitness professionals with the combined goal of bringing weight training into the female public arena to eliminate misconceptions about its affects. It soon became a place to find recipes, get free fitness programs, read clothing reviews, and became a gathering place for strong-bodied women. Girls Gone Strong's social media story is just as strong as the women who run it. Each time it was on my newsfeed, I found myself discovering another line, another paragraph, sometimes, another chapter, of their story. Each post was a woven tapestry of a larger design that they continued to weave for those who followed them. As a brand, the most powerful position is to have your tribe of followers ready and willing to engage in your endeavors (so that they buy your product, let's be real). How much more will they interact and purchase if there's a story provided for them to be a part of? A story that they've been following and can't part themselves from? We all know what it's like to be unable to put down a good book...are your social media platforms worthy of being called a "good read"? This concept changed the way I think about social media, especially social media as a brand and business tool. It was no longer scheduled posts of funny pictures, or what my insights were telling me, or how many likes we got on a certain day. It became another way for me to tell a story about which I believed, and wanted others to believe, too.