How Actions Always Speak Louder than Words - Even on Social

Jul 22, 2013

If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer, you market yourself. You are your story. Perhaps you make your life story available to clients on your blog. And we suspect that most of you have taken to heart that personal, dynamic, “human” interactions on social media do more to engage clients and peers than sharing a link to your portfolio or that video of your dog.

Recently in the Harvard Business Review, Ty Montague and a team of researchers compared the storytelling most major brands now do with “storydoing,” wherein brands “advance their narrative through action, not communication.” According to Montague, instead of just telling the same story in different ways, these brands “emphasize the creation of compelling and useful experiences — new products, new services, and new tools that advance their narrative by lighting up the medium of people.”

Now if you’re like us, you’re reticent about adopting yet another piece of marketing jargon. Also, he used the phrase “lighting up the medium of people,” which seems to suggest that we are all a giant switchboard. We’re constantly bombarded with what to do and not to do on social media and advertising. How is this different?

Here’s the thing that made us sit up and listen: storydoing is not just about social media. In fact, it deemphasizes social media and puts a spotlight on what you actually, physically do to make your clients’ lives better. Even if you’ve already established your business’s voice and brand, have you recently taken a hard, honest look at the products you’re offering and how you communicate them? At innovating within that selection of products, whether that’s an e-book or a new line of gadgets or selling key chains in your bike shop? At advancing yourself and your products instead of just repeating the same old story?

According to Montague, this effort makes all your marketing more efficient. Companies that engaged in storydoing over storytelling grew social media mentions faster while spending less annually on media. Granted, he’s measuring and comparing giant companies with billions of dollars of revenue, but it can apply to small businesses, too.

So today, when you sit down to Twitter or Facebook to spend your daily 30 minutes or an hour building your presence, take a step back. Are you communicating a story? Or are you writing the next chapter?