Storytelling on Social Media

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One of Tumblr's top strategists says that an impactful way to engage an audience is through vivid stories on social media.

At the heart of social media is engagement. Few know this better than Don Steele, head of audience development at Tumblr—the micro-blogging site owned by Yahoo. For many B2B and B2C companies, Tumblr continues to be an effective tool in a greater social media strategy to share content and build engagement. DMN caught up with Steele at Engage 2015 in New York, an event that focuses on leading social strategies, innovation, and successes. Here's that one-on-one, which first published via DMN's Periscope.

Exactly how important is social media to a marketing strategy?
I think these days it's critical, and obviously that's why the [social media] industry is so big and so important. I think the relationship that people can have between brands and customers—customer service, the ability to sell people more, the ability to connect in a way that they've never had before—it's just critical. Understanding how valuable that is, and that social can enable that, is just a great marketing strategy.

How do companies pick the right social media platform for their audiences—whether Tumblr or another platform?
I think that all of the platforms have a role in terms of how you connect. But as we were talking about on the panel [at Engage 2015], it's a lot about being great on the platform that you're choosing to be present on. For Tumblr it's the demographics; it's the type of content that works really well; it's the type of brands that demonstrate success in using those platforms to be effective and successful. And so we think about Tumblr as a great platform where other brands like to participate, but the Tumblr brand does participate on other platforms to tell our story.

Should marketers use a social media platform to build an audience or maintain an audience?
Well, at Tumblr it's a way to extend the relationship with the audience because the content that works great on Tumblr and the brands that do well on Tumblr bring experiences to life through a social media platform.

Why might micro-blogging be a good place to spark conversations with current and potential customers?
Well, it's a great place to tell a story with pictures, with audio, with video, and all of those types of things that you can't use on other platforms. At Tumblr you can say so many things. Every brand has such a rich story.

What would you define as a good marketing strategy?
Good marketing strategies are ones with goals that you're trying to achieve and a specific plan on how to get to those goals. Take a look at how you're setting those goals and the tactics you're using to get there.

How might social media strategies differ for small- and medium-sized business versus a major brand?
I think that you have to think about the relationship that you're trying to have. If you're a small- or medium-sized business, you're probably going to have a more one-to-one communication with people. Their social media strategy is very different than one that is global in nature and has to tell a worldwide story.

Is there ever a time that social media should not be a part of a bigger marketing strategy?
Every social media strategy should have some social element to it. Because I think that the relationships consumers have and that the way that they want to participate in the world call for participation in social media from companies.

Describe social media of the future.
Well, as long as it maintains its magic and people realize that it's this great tool for self-expression then the more people will feel positive and connected with social media in the future.

DMNotes is DMN's around-the-clock blog. Yes, a blog in 2016.

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