As an influencer, you have stories that you tell and the story that you tell. Those are two different things. Let me explain how that works. The stories you tell is every day, what are you doing that day, where do you like to eat, what do you like to wear, what are you thinking about, what do you care about, what are you laughing about, what are you watching, whatever. The story you tell is what is your, again, this is kind of an icky word and people don't talk about personal branding as much as they used to, but what is your brand and what is the story that that brand is telling?
It's not something that you have to be explicit about to your audience, but I do think that if you haven't gone through this process recently as an influencer, I would do it. I would sit with a notebook and I would write down, what do you think the story you're telling is? How do you think your audience would perceive what makes you interesting or special or different or entertaining or educational? What is that story? Is it the story of a young mother who is also working and living in New York City? Is it the story of a photographer who is going around the world, shooting all these incredible people and all these incredible places and it's this escapism thing?
Is it like our good friend Jamie, her story of essentially a woman who has moved to Provence in the 1860s, and wears lace, and takes photos of herself all day, and just lives this incredible fairytale life full of castles, and pressed flowers, and fresh baguettes? If you think about the influencers that you really connect with-- Let me just step back. If you're saying, "I don't want to do that and I don't think that's important," I would think about your three favorite influencers and then do that for them, write down what their story is. I bet in two or three sentences, very quickly, you can tell me exactly what they're all about, what their thing is, and summarize that really quickly.
If you can't do that for yourself, it's because I think you're not being explicit enough about tailoring that story and committing yourself to it because especially now that the space has gotten more and more crowded, I think it is that much more important as an influencer to have a very clear idea about what you do and do not do and be very explicit about the story you're telling. Again, when I say you need to be explicit, you need to understand the story you're telling, your audience shouldn't feel like they're getting a story told to them, it should just feel natural. Every post you do should totally make sense and it should fit into that larger story, but they should never think that you're telling them a story.
We touched on this a little bit last week of why I think that viral proposal went off the rails was because people figured out that they were being told a story, and then they felt really stupid, and they felt taken advantage of, and they lashed out. People were totally complicit and they were totally on board when they thought this was a journey that they were all going on together, and this was happening in real-time, and it felt really exciting. The second they realized that it was a manufactured story that was being told to them, they turned on it like that.
I think that's a very interesting thing to think about, so be explicit about it, but don't let your audience know that you're just telling them a story. Look, I'm not saying you have to make up some new brand or story for yourself. Ideally, you're living this interesting life that people are connecting with. I think it is about discipline and putting up guardrails and saying, "This is who I am and this is what I talk about" so that people can come to know what to expect from you. If they can know what to expect from you and you deliver on that, then that's how you build trust, and love, and emotional connection, and all of those things.
- The Importance of Stories and Storytelling