Invite your customers to tell your story

There is little more powerful than someone else telling people what you do, or that you’re good at it. That’s why testimonials are so important. But there are many other ways that you can get your customers to help tell your story, both to their friends, and to yours. Today I’ll run through three ways that you can get your audience talking about you, creating powerful content, and taking some of the pressure of creating content off of you!

1) Create opportunity and reason to check in

Whether people are using Foursquare, Facebook, or Instagram, you want them to check in to your location and let their friends know they’re there, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them.

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you’re set up on all of the different apps so that when they try to check in, you appear. If I’m out and want to share my location with a picture, and the location pops up for me to tag, I do it. If the location doesn’t show up, I don’t. This is easy to do on Facebook (by putting in your address and making sure your page is listed as a place), and adding your location to Foursquare makes it available both there and on Instagram as well. On top of making it easy for people to check in, be sure to encourage them to do so - either by asking them to check in, or…

2) Have contests

Contests are a great way to get people to share content for you. Put up signs in your location or promote them online to get people to share photos, stories or quotes that have to do with your business. Create a hashtag that then ties all the entries together and that leads people back to your site or business.

Here are examples of the types of contests you can run:

Ask people to Tweet or Facebook their favourite thing that you sell. Let them know to tag you or use a specific hashtag, like this company did:

The contest will encourage people to post photos like this:

or this one:

Ask a social media question for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card with a hashtag that corresponds to your business (i.e., #AskWellmanWilson)

3) Ask for their story

People like sharing their story and are often willing to do it as long as you ask. There are many ways to do this:

  • Ask them to write a sentence or two describing what they like about your company or your product.
  • Ask for a guest post that details their experience with you or your product.
  • Send them a questionnaire they can fill out and then post their answers as an interview.

Being the voice of your business and telling the story of your brand is made easier when you invite your clients and customers to join in. Our next blog post will give you some of the benefits that encouraging your customers to tell your story can bring.

What are some other creative ways you’ve seen businesses invite their customers and clients to tell their story?

Throwback Thursday - why it's fun for businesses too

Every Thursday I love going through my social network feeds and seeing old photos of my friends for Throwback Thursday/#TBT (Throwback Thursday is when people share old photos, primarily on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). I know I’m not alone because the likes and comments on these posts are all super high. So, what is it about Throwback Thursday that people like so much?

Who are you?

People want to know about you.  They want to get to know you.  They want to feel like they’re talking to a human being who they can connect with. 

That photo of you and your sister at the beach in 1986, or the photo of you at your high school graduation, it gives people a glimpse of you that touches an emotional point in them. Those old photos help make you seem more human to them, which makes them feel more connected to you.

It’s the story

All of this comes back to the idea that people love a story and Throwback Thursday is giving people another glimpse at your story. Who you are, how you became the person you are and how that relates to the people you deal with in your audience is always key.

Should YOU be sharing old photos?

If there are photos of you that you feel comfortable sharing and that you can relate back to your business, either because it has a direct link or because it lets you share a story that your audience will relate to, it’s a great idea to share the photo. I have shared a lot of Throwback Thursday photos on my personal Facebook timeline, but I am now inspired to share some here with you.

Take a look at this photo from 2010 of a gang of friends in a “Losing it in Ottawa” group (the first project Karen and I started together) taking part in Run for the Cure. We’ve done a lot of fun things together!



Or this photo, of my husband and I before we were married. It was taken for an article in Glue Magazine about couples who met online, proving I’ve been making online connections for a long time!


Or this one of me taking part in a workshop to learn how to make videos on my phone, which reminds me, I need to start doing that again!



These little glimpses into my world will hopefully make you feel like you know me a little bit better, and that’s what I’m always looking to have happen in my online communications. I want to build relationships with people so that when the time comes, you think of me if you’re ready to take the next step and learn more about online marketing. Spend some time and think of how you can do the same with YOUR audience.

Then leave me a comment and let me know if you share Throwback Thursday photos personally or for your business, and if you do, share a link - I’d love to come and see them!

Storytelling and social media: mini movies

How do you make people listen to what you have to say when there are so many things to read and watch?

Turn it into a story!

We talk about storytelling a lot because it is one of the best ways to pull your audience in to what you have to tell them. Today we’re going to share some of examples of how brands are using the mini-movie (longer than a typical ad but generally under 5 minutes) to really pull in their audience.

In some cases, the brand’s personal message is really subtle, in others it is less so. Either way, I had no problem watching the following three examples in their entirety without being tempted to close the window mid way through (this is particularly impressive given my personality.  

Investing as much as 5 minutes on an ad says a lot about how well-executed these were. Interestingly, two of these weren’t made in English. I hope to see more of these produced in North American markets.


Cornetto sells ice cream. This mini movie is a teen love story and there aren’t any real ice cream references that I noticed (though it’s not in English so I may have missed some). That being said, it has been viewed over 26 million times. Just by putting the mini movie together, they are getting a lot of visibility. 

Google search

I don’t know how I’d get through life without Google. In fact, when I was recently on a cruise our group spent a lot of time joking about how we were back in 1993 (“we know the information is out there somewhere and we can’t get to it!! We’re actually going to have to guess and then look it up later!”) because none of us had access to wifi.

This short movie pulled on all kinds of heart strings for me, and shows just how much many of us use Google search regularly.  It’s been viewed 6.5 million times and it was posted less than two weeks ago!

The world needs coders.  This mini movie took some fascinating people and had them share their personal stories on why they learned to code. I thought it was a great way of sharing the personal side that people should consider becoming computer programmers.  Not to mention the job perks they get! :)

It’s been viewed over 11 million times.

What do you think?

I want to hear from you. Did those mini movies hold your attention? Have you seen movies like this going around and have you watched them? Leave a comment and let us know what you think: Does it work? Why?

If you’ve seen a good one, Share a link with us!

If you haven’t already, sign up below to get our free e-newsletter.  You’ll get a free e-book that walks you through how to create simple and effective social media content and a weekly email with more tips, tricks, deals and blog posts on how social media can grow your business online.

Storytelling and social media: Humans of New York

Have you ever tried to convey a concept with technical terms and jargon? Perhaps you noticed (or maybe you didn’t) the blank stares and glazed eyes as you give a thorough and well-meaning explanation. (I’m looking in the mirror as I type this out, because you are not alone.)

The solution to this problem is so simple: turn it into a story. I get so many questions about social media every week, but I’ve been getting them for years now. I’ve seen and heard so many things that people do, think, feel or misunderstand. I haven’t seen and heard it all by any stretch, but definitely a lot. It isn’t that hard to come up with a story, a metaphor or an analogy. 

I’ve always loved a good story. So much so that I have lost count of the number of nights I have stayed up to find out how a story resolves. When the fifth Harry Potter book came out, I knew when it would be delivered. I planned to be home for that entire weekend because I would finish that book before I had to return to work. 

Stories draw people in like nothing else can.

In addition to loving stories, I’ve always had an interest in photography. I’ve taken thousands of shots; half a dozen or so make the throwaways worth it. After all, a photo is another medium for telling a story. 

Several months ago, I became aware of what has become my all-time favourite Facebook page: Humans of New York. The posts from this page reminded me so much of my friend Kym’s 100 strangers project, Le Mien. (Lara and I were part of the group that was stranger #38 way back in October 2010.) Kym’s ability to capture the essence of a person with succint, yet poignant, captions was so brilliant. In the months I’ve followed Brandon Stanton’s work on HONY, I see that same ability in him. 

As I’ve found out now that I have the newly released HONY book in my hands, this project has had major evolutions over time. There were two changes that - in his introduction - Brandon credits with leading to his success (and a book deal):

1) He joined Facebook.

HONY started out as a website. Searchable by neighborhood, but not particularly popular. Then a friend finally convinced Brandon to set up a Facebook page. A little over a year later, a half a million people were connected to Brandon’s images.

2) He started telling stories.

Well, actually, his introduction says he started interviewing his subjects and sharing their stories. Some of the stories that accompany the photos are as short as one word. Others are lengthy, as with the recent photo of Duane, whose story led many to help him realize his dream of a brother for his daughter.

These two changes are listed here in chronological order, however, without the stories the page’s growth may not have happened as fast as it did. The photos are gorgeous and many times they tell tell a story without any words at all, but the incredible insight into the human condition that Brandon reveals with each one is appealing on a deeper level, particularly when you see or read about hard-earned wisdom, full circle moments, affection, parental concern, geekdom, hope, microfashion, and so many more.

Short or long, the stories drew me in. They are why I follow HONY on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

What stories can you share with your audience that will draw them in? How your business got started? Challenges you’ve faced? Funny office moments? What about your clients and customers? 

Buzz and Brilliance: Week ending Feb 23

Over the week we go through a lot of content - news and blog posts, how tos and conceptual posts on the state of the internet.  Every Sunday we share some of our favourites with you.

Check out the links and let us know in the comments if you have any questions or if you read any great posts this week!

For this week and next, I’m on my own since Lara decided to take a much-deserved vacation.


I love when “boring” businesses call us for help. Because often, they aren’t nearly as boring as anyone thinks on the surface. Seeing businesses that show personality regardless of the product’s sex appeal is always great to see. (Hubspot)

We learned as kids not to judge a book by its cover, but your website/blog design really will get you judged. Here are a few rules to take into consideration when you’re considering your blog layout. (BloggingPro)

The nice thing about being a small business owner is that we don’t have to wade through the mire of corporate red tape before we decide to post to any social network. We just have to stay tuned in consistently enough to respond to the unexpected. (SmartBlog on Social Media)

I’ve had some interesting discussions this week around post-level insights on Facebook. There were extensive discrepancies in the numbers being reported. Then I found out that Facebook announced that there was a bug affecting insights. Here’s hoping this clears up the muddle.

Do you ever wonder how to make your content more interesting and memorable as a business? Learn to be a storyteller. (Web Ink Now)

The Media Mesh

Here’s what you might have missed from us this week:

Social Capital is looking for Speakers and Sponsors!

Writing bios that connect

Skip the gimmicks, share engaging content, and don’t annoy your fans

Chris Hadfield and the amazing world of technology

App of the Week

I used to highlight a different app each week that I enjoy using and this week I’m going to re-introduce the feature. The app I’m currently relying on heavily is Dropbox. I’ve finally got a place where all my data and files are backed up. Additionally, the syncing and sharing have been invaluable to Lara and me. We’ve dramatically reduced our use of Google Docs, which doesn’t have the more robust capabilities we need as a business that we can get from Microsoft Office.