Editor's Letter: March 2018

Social storytelling
Laura Aiken
February 28, 2018
Written by
I just love Michelle Brisebois’ opening lines in this edition’s article on social media: “Do you feel like you can’t keep up with the latest trends in social media marketing? Join the club.” The platforms are changing, advice is changing, and heck, I daresay even people might be changing.
It’s pretty tough to keep up. I read a few articles online that captured the thoughts of various influencers on the future of social media. In synthesis, a significant amount of thought concluded that social media wouldn’t even be a thing 20-years or so from now. It will just be part of the fabric of our daily life, like the internet we’ll be wearing around. It’s all very sci-fi indeed.

Some of the super buzzy words popping up around social media include chatbots, Instagram stories, more and more video, influencer partnerships and live streaming. Whatever you do or don’t do on the cutting edge of social media 2018, none of it will likely matter much without a compelling story. The “curated life” is a rising term for people’s penchant for turning their own lives into a carefully selected story, but business was there first. What is a brand but a business’ diligently curated tale? Some of us are brands, but most of us are not. All bakeries are brands.

The continual challenge in the new media environment is managing the cohesive story of your bakery via fragmented bits of communication. It appears at odds with the tradition of storytelling as we experience it through literary means, where our attachment grows deeper with each wave of the page; the characters come to life and we picture ourselves in their world. Bakeries aren’t as far from a fictional escape as they may appear. While rooted in reality, they offer an experience that the customer first imagines. You look at the crusty sourdough loaf, you imagine what it might taste like dripping with olive oil or wrapped around fine cheese. You pass by the window display of intricate cakes interspersed with macaron towers, and imagine the sophisticated feeling that fancy brings. Customers come into your world for a literal and fictional taste of it. Perhaps there are some lessons to be gleaned from the author’s toolkit.

In the writing guide Wired for Story by Lisa Cron, she makes some very applicable points in summation at the end of Chapter 2, titled “How to Zero in on Your Point” (if this isn’t developing a brand, I don’t know what is). 1 — Do you know what the point of your story is? 2 — Do you know what your story says about human nature? I bet most businesses have done No. 1 as a basic brand development. But what about the second point? What does your bakery say about human nature? Is the crux of it a message that can be carried throughout your bakery’s social media? It is interesting to think about, for it is quite essential, and essential things create cohesion because they don’t go away. Perhaps your bakery speaks to the hedonist in us (pure indulgence), the empathy (animal welfare concerns), or the avoidance of loneliness (the solitary freelancers all typing together in a cafe). Whatever the message, it is about the customer rather than the bakery and this will resonate.

There is much to learn from our storytelling traditions, and perhaps getting back to the basics is the best way to thrive in the complexity of the fast-moving social media game.

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