Brand storytelling on social media influences customers by increasing brand awareness, reach and attracting new followers. Your story is how your company will be remembered by customers.

Building a unique brand story on social media involves telling it through different social platforms. It can be a challenge, though, to figure out the best way to translate the brand story you’re familiar with inside your company to social media.

According to a survey by The Manifest and Smart Insights, 24% of social media marketers said missing a formal strategy is their top social media marketing challenge. Another 24% said building a community of followers is a top social media marketing challenge.

“Social media is an essential but complicated part of a business’s marketing strategy,” writes Kristen Herhold, senior content writer and marketer at Clutch.

The good news is that engagement doesn’t have to be a mystery. It can be achieved. When you tell your brand narrative on social media in a way that resonates with the right customers – the customers who will actually use your product and services – the follows, clicks, tweets, or likes will come.

Know your audience

Before you can talk to your customers on social media, you’ve got to understand who your audience is.

One way to understand your audience is to create customer personas. You can create these personas by collecting data about your customers through customer interviews, a social media platform, and Google Analytics.

By matching the needs, hopes, wants, and desires of your audience with your brand story, you can get customers to feel a real emotional connection with your brand.

Here are four examples of brands successfully engaging with their customers with brand storytelling.

Create resources

The resources you create, which relate to your brand, should be helpful and useful for your audience. For example, restaurant operation software Toast provides resources that are relevant for restaurant operators.

Another example of a B2B company that is producing great resources is customer identity company Signal. Here’s an example from a post on Twitter that talks about their 2019 Marketing Predictions eBook.

Signal is providing a valuable resource for digital marketers. Because it’s their own content, it shows that the company cares about their community and wants them to be successful, as well as demonstrating their expertise in the space.

Takeway: If you have blog articles, eBooks, or white paper landing pages, use those across your social media accounts. When writing up a post, remember you are talking to human beings — so be helpful and use personality in your posts.

Brand storytelling in action: Shinola

Brand storytelling has to start with a story.

Let’s take a look at the luxury goods brand Shinola, which emphasizes their presence manufacturing in Detroit and their attention to detail and quality. It’s a good example of how a brand uses storytelling and community as a basis for their company.

“We know there’s not just history in Detroit – there is a future,” Shinola’s website reads.

The story continues: “In a world that’s rushing, we stand for something different. We believe our lives can be crafted just like our products, with intention. It’s about making time for the things that make you happy. It’s about investing in the things that are important. It’s about working with people who care the same amount, because it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.”

The company has a watch factory, a leather factory and a bicycle workshop in Detroit, and most recently opened a hotel there.

So how does Shinola translate their story to social media?

First of all, Shinola posted a grand opening video of their hotel on Instagram:

The video shows the hotel lighting up on the streets of Detroit. The hotel itself adds to their story. I know you might be thinking, So you’re saying I have to open a hotel to engage customers on social? No, not at all. Although, it certainly can’t hurt!

The good news is you don’t have to open a hotel to get customer engagement on social media. You just have to know how to tell your story. And a huge part of Shinola’s story is their presence in Detroit.

Takeaway: In what city is your business based and what do you stand for? Share stories about your community, your employees, and your products.

Use content from your community

Shinola also creates connection to its community with user generated content. When a customer purchases a watch from Shinola, the brand invites the customer to share the watch on social media with #MyShinola. There have been 12,400 posts with #MyShinola on Instagram alone.

Inviting your customers to be part of your brand is an excellent way to get them engaged on social media.

Intrepid Travel focuses on small group adventure travel. They post travel images from their past customers on Facebook to show prospective travelers how awesome a travel experience can be with Intrepid.

Takeaway: Use a hashtag that involves your customers. Or, feature your customers’ photos when they help tell the story of your brand.

Give back

The Tote Project gives 10 percent of their profits to Two Wings, a U.S. nonprofit dedicated to helping sex trafficking survivors. All of their bags are made in Calcutta by women who are survivors of trafficking or at risk of being forced into trafficking because of poverty. The owners of The Tote Project are therefore able to provide jobs for women who might not have any other options.

The Tote Project posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are inspiring, detailed, and all relate back to their mission: To end trafficking through spreading awareness, ethical manufacturing, and giving back.

Takeaway: You don’t have to donate 10 percent of your profits to charity, but focusing on giving back to the community will get your audience’s attention — especially if you give back consistently.

Stand up for something you believe in

Like The Tote Project, brands need to take a stand for the causes and issues that are most meaningful to them — and to their audience.

This involves being authentic. When creating a social media marketing plan, make sure you are being you. Authenticity is what the brands I mentioned in this article have in common. According to Sprout’s #BrandsGetReal study, 66 percent of people said it’s “important” for brands to take a stand on current issues.

Takeway: Tie the storytelling of your social media campaign to something your brand and your audience believes in. This could be things like helping feed the homeless, helping women get out of poverty, or protecting the environment.

One last thing

Your brand’s story needs to be told in a way that involves your customers and your community to make people feel like they are part of your brand story and connected to your brand.

If you’ve got content, share it. If your company helps the community, make it known. Involve your customers in your brand.

Your brand’s story will engage customers. You just first need to define what that story is, then make sure your customers know what your story is, too.