Social Media Association and Storytelling

Think about some of the marketing campaigns that have stuck with you the most.

It could be about car sales. Possibly a clothing line. Maybe a certain type of beverage.

Regardless of the product, there’s almost certainly one thing your favorite campaigns have in common.


One recent commercial that comes to mind for myself is Nike’s latest commercial featuring Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback better known for making social statements — such as taking a knee during the national anthem — and speaking out against what he perceives to be social injustices.  

In this Nike commercial, Kaepernick is the voiceover as clips are shown of everyday and professional athletes achieving things that may seem “crazy.” The commercial creates an emotional connection for the audience after just seeing and hearing seconds of a story.

At the end of the commercial, Kaepernick, with his face shown, walks down a street saying “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if they’re crazy enough,” before the famous Nike swoosh and “Just do it” slogan comes on the screen.

This is just one of thousands of examples of marketing through storytelling. And at a combined event between the Social Media Association and Public Relations Professionals of Long Island (PRPLI), called “Storytelling for PR and Marketing Pros” on October 24 at Girls Scouts of Nassau County in Garden City, methods and techniques of storytelling were discussed after breakfast and mingling between the guests.

Tracey Segarra, an award-winning storyteller, public speaker, workshop trainer and journalist whose personal stories have appeared on The Moth Radio Hour and the Risk! and Story Collider podcasts, led the workshop, starting with telling a compelling personal story.

Segarra spoke about giving birth to twins, after suffering a previous miscarriage, and how one of her daughters needed heart surgery. Segarra discussed the personal anguish she had, along with the stress and work that goes along with finding a doctor she felt she could trust to operate on such a small child.

But it wasn’t necessarily just the facts of her story that captivated the room. It was the way she told the story that left some in the room fighting back tears, and everyone feeling a personal connection and imagining the pain she was going through.

The same stories can be told for, and by, companies. Nike has done it for years, mostly through athletes they have sponsorship deals with, such as basketball star LeBron James and Kaepernick. But a CEO, mailroom worker, accountant, driver, or any other position in a company can have a compelling story of their own.

“Good stories create an emotional connection,” Segarra said. “Nobody is moved by facts and figures.”

And for that, it’s important for a business to look within its own walls for stories.

The Kaepernick commercial discussed isn’t filled with household names. The majority of the people featured aren’t celebrities. They are everyday people, who had a story to tell.

Those people could be working at your company, but unless a business takes it upon itself, or seeks outside help, to find those stories, they will go untold.

A personal connection to a company makes a business feel more human. And similarly to how we will go out of our way to help the people we know, consumers will likely support businesses they feel that connection to.

The best way to make those feelings come to life come through storytelling. – Owen O’Brien

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The Social Media Association empowers, informs, and inspires individuals and organizations to maximize the potential of social and digital media.