If you want to be successful with social media you need to master the art and science of storytelling marketing. In this interview, digital strategist Bosco Anthony shares how leading brands and solopreneurs alike are using storytelling marketing to attract more and better customers. If you are using social media today you need to know this!
To find out more about Bosco and his storytelling marketing expertise, just Google “Bosco Anthony”
Transcription Episode 82: Storytelling Marketing: The “Secret Sauce” To Social Media Success – With Bosco Anthony
This is your host Derek Gehl and today we’re going to be exploring the art and science of storytelling marketing and the real pivotal role that it plays in building a successful business online these days.
The fact is this, marketing has and is changing. If you truly want to create and engage a loyal customer-base in what has become a relatively noisy marketplace, crafting and compelling purpose and story is really key.
Today’s guest is an incredible digital strategist and expert on storytelling marketing that I’ve personally had the privilege of working with in past companies. Over his career he has worked with a number of various corporation and individuals to help them to define and refine their purpose in crafting a story to connect and engage their audiences using storytelling marketing in this ever evolving digital world.
Just recently, I heard his … his TEDx Talk, I watched his TEDx Talk online and I knew after watching I had to get him on the show.
Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Bosco Anthony to the show.
Bosco, thanks so much for being here.
It was about 250 hours in the making.If anyone ever wants and do a TEDx Talk, what people see is the 18 minutes which is the final product and there’s such an intricate process to get there everything from the application process to the preparation process to the rehearsals, to learning about body language and tonality. I was fortunate to be part of the road team at a previous life with you.
I learned a lot about just the art of an idea and how to tell a story and how to captivate an audience. Yeah, it was a very long process. It was a three year journey for me. I’d applied a couple of times and I was fortunate to get the nod at TEDxStanleyPark and it was very exciting and when I got on stage I was happy to connect with the audience right away.
They were very generous and acknowledged me very quickly and that gave me that encouragement to finish the talk and do it really well but it was a roller coaster ride.
I think I got off the stage and I kept asking myself did I forget a line, did I forget something but I practiced, Derek, probably for 250 days straight looking at the mirror and in the shower to the point where I just couldn’t rehearse anymore.
They require you to provide a script at least for this particular TEDx and then work on it. I went through 25 scripts through a collaborative process in a span of a few months but on the day of the TED event, there were things that were flowing through my mind that I thought where what I call really interesting triggers that I wanted to use to engage with the audience.
Probably about 30 minutes before I got up on stage I took my script and pulled a pencil. I was like “You know what? I think I’m going to start inserting some new things.” Probably not the safest thing to do but it just made sense and I was fortunate to do it because I put in about four or five things that weren’t on the script and it works really well with the audience. It was just me having fun and trying to be authentic with the audience as well.
Let’s talk a little bit about how it’s … the digital world’s evolved over the years because I mean it didn’t used to be as much about storytelling marketing I don’t think.
The first thing, I got starstruck when I first met you. I was like, “You’re Derek Gehl!” and you were looking at me very strangely and you had no idea that at that point I was about to start working at the company. I was just … I was so excited. I was just like I’m really excited to be working here and you were very polite.
At that time, I started to learn a lot about online marketing and these were days just after Corey passed away. Being an affiliate manager at that point I got to see a different breed of online marketers and this was what we call the old guard and the marketing back then was really based on the fact that people wanted to be online and people want to build business online and really grow their brands.
We saw a lot of what we call now pitch marketing. We saw a lot of people that saw the dream of working from home and earning a six-figure income as we called it back then, but there was a need at some point to change. Gary Vaynerchuk, who was well known in the social media space, said that marketers ruin everything for people. It turned out to be true for the internet marketing space because after a while people just started abusing the system.
People just started just throwing everything and anything at selling things. You would see a marketer say he’s going out of the business and this is his final offer with a discount and then three weeks later he’s back up again and running his business.
At that point, there was a need for authenticity. At that point there was a need for us to change because we were also changing our audience where we were starting to see the rise of the millennial who was a little bit more cautious before they made an online purchase or an investment in it.
This is when content marketing storytelling started to grow and we’ve gone through different stages of media, we call it owned media, earned media and now we’re currently in the world of the paid media and essentially the concept of storytelling marketing really started after pitch marketing started just not getting as effective anymore.
You could start to see this through email campaigns where your open rates or bounce rates were just declining steadily because you couldn’t use the old tactics anymore.
It challenged marketers to start evolving to telling their story online in doing a better job of what their intention was. An effective story today that has a really massive following typically has a purpose in life or a business purpose in life. This is the root of storytelling marketing. I would constantly say that you can’t tell a story if you don’t have a purpose.
We’re going out there with a pitch. If we take the online marketing space, you’re right. It got abused with everybody making the same claims and eventually when you got ten guys that are making the same claim and many of them completely outrageous, how do you stand out from that?
I think this is where we’ve now evolved our marketing to a more sophisticated level like content marketing storytelling where we definitely do need this storytelling marketing component of it but, do you think that the pitches … Well, let me rephrase that. I think the pitch still needs to be there but it needs to be worked in or subsequent to the storytelling marketing process. What are your thoughts?
Essentially, we have now moved to a world where the customer is picking your presence or your product or your services as opposed to you going to the market and trying to pitch it to someone. That doesn’t mean that direct marketing responses don’t work. It’s just become more customized and more segmented as opposed to “Let’s throw spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks.”
I can’t tell you how many strategies that I’ve done where we’ve been able to influence competitors to come on board and work a win-win situation. I have to say Derek, you were one of the pioneers that basically created collaborative marketing.
You were part of one of the most successful affiliate marketing brands and that carried for a while. Back then, we called it affiliate marketing and now we’re calling it influence in marketing.
How does storytelling marketing … from a big brand perspective or corporate that’s great but for the average guy that’s getting online, starting something, how does storytelling marketing play a role? Where does it fit into the whole marketing mix?
I guess what I’m trying to drive towards here Bosco is it’s storytelling … it’s not a hard tangible thing in the sense of send an email, get a response. It’s a little softer. It’s not as measurable I guess you could say. Explain storytelling marketing. Give us some intangibles so people can get it. Maybe some examples of storytelling?
Everything from the tonality of your voice online to the edge, what format are you going to be using? Is it going to be edgy? Is it going to be millennial-based? Is this going to be classic? Is it going to have an elegance to it?
Then you look at the technology for that story. Are you going to be doing it more visually? Is it going to be an infographic? Is it going to look like a blog? Is it going to have email substances?
Essentially, storytelling marketing is a generic term that takes all concepts of content engineering. Everything from research to content development to content publishing and distribution, to content metrics and then traffic funnels because a classic piece of marketing is building a traffic funnel from the content and then directing that traffic to the landing pages as a subtle form of marketing. That’s where the metrics lie.
The Ugly Christmas Party started with people wearing ugly Christmas sweaters and basically having a house party. Four brothers, two sets of brothers started this house party 12 years ago. The concept took off. It’s started to become a movement because people want to belong to a purpose. People want to belong a movement.
Their purpose was to create smiles. What they did was they managed these events and as time went along, these events started to turn into a profit margins and they took the profit margins and they gave it to the Children’s Wish Foundation to grant wishes.
From there, they built a foundation and they started to grow and they built a following. From a storytelling perspective, they had all the elements of storytelling which is people, memories and experiences.
What they didn’t do was take that story and put it online. When they hired me as a board member, I realized that there was a really big need to make use of storytelling marketing.
Within the first event, we basically hired photographers, digital cameraman and we created over about 5,000 pieces of micro content – everything from photos to videos and we basically created custom videos and we started showcasing this on Youtube videos, we started showcasing this landing pages, we started putting this on Instagram.
We started posting every single day using hashtags and basically taking this visual content and bringing it to the market.
What we didn’t realize was that with storytelling marketing we were building a movement and a culture. This party started to sell out because every time we started publishing this inbound content and sending traffic to landing pages, we were selling our events.
I’m happy to say we’re taking this across Canada. We’re bringing it to Victoria this year and we sold out our marathon last year. Our goal in the next two years is to take this across Canada but what’s powered it has has been the story and now we’re fortunate to take more funds and now grant wishes in other platforms as well. This really highlights the importance of storytelling in marketing.
With Victoria, we’re partnering up with Power To Be which is a movement that helps people with disabilities to enhance the outdoor experience.
Here, we have people running around in ugly sweaters and a giant movement we’re talking 1,200 runners in ugly Christmas sweater parties. That’s our niche and then we have parties where people show up and they have a good time. We have bands, we have beer sponsors, we have … it’s fun family events that go on.
It’s all about connecting with the community. That’s the story.
If you look back now, what was the purpose for you being an online entrepreneur and pioneer?
I was unemployable.
Purpose is defined as a compass or a business compass or if it’s a personal brand, one’s personal compass. When it comes to storytelling, you need to have a purpose to then go captivate the audience.
You can’t just create a viral campaign without understanding what a viral campaign is. This is where a lot of marketers make a lot of mistakes because some marketers will go pay a storytelling studio thousands and thousands of dollars to create a viral campaign.
Meanwhile, there’s a woman who goes to to Coles, picks up a Chewbacca mask, sits in her car, puts the mask, laughs crazily and all of the sudden she gets millions and millions of hits. Do you know what I mean?
I’m always trying to leave the person that I’m interacting with better than I found them. If someone can take even one piece of content and say “I found that valuable”, my job is complete
That’s how I built my personal brand over the years is that authentic piece of storytelling and when it comes to building a storytelling marketing strategy or a content engineering strategy, it goes back down to why are we’re doing this in the first place? What is our why? How are we going to help the people online benefit from this?
If you look at this podcast, you’re bringing people from different walks of life but there’s one common theme and that common theme is empowering the entrepreneurs. That’s the purpose of this podcast. Without that purpose, your content is flat.
I spoke at a conference and a marketing coordinator contacts me and she said, “I found your talk very inspiring. Here’s my challenge. I have the CEO that’s been sitting on my proposal and I haven’t really managed to get anywhere.”
She asked me to come in and present to the CEO. I gave them an hour presentation of what digital marketing is and he was blown away with the examples and case studies and what his competitors were doing and he looked at this marketing lady and said, “Why we not doing this? Why have I hired you?”
She looked at him. There was this awkward silence and she looked at him, she said “Actually, I proposed this four months ago. It’s still sitting on your desk.” And she pointed to it and it was right next to his pile of things that he hasn’t attended to.
Then I respond and I said, “What is the business purpose of having employees in your firm?” And he said, “Well, to empower them.” I said, “Well, you’re not doing that. You’re not empowering people because you’re holding on and basically blocking them from doing what they’re supposed to do. That’s why I’m here.”
Anyways, these stories … I tell this story because that woman that was VP of marketing and we’re good friends and I consult them.
She now has the freedom to do what she was supposed to do in the first place but Derek you’ve seen this as well with so many of them the big players that you’ve mentored in Mastermind as well where they’re supposed to do one thing but they end up going back to doing the old things that end up preventing them from actually pushing the envelope.
This was the CEO for a major banking firm in Canada and he says, “Well, can’t you just tell my voice?” I said, “Well, I don’t think I look like you. I’m tan, I’m 6’4” and it won’t work.”
That’s the reason why authenticity in today’s business is really the game changer.
Right now, I’m setting up a big social campaign for something I’m working on and it’s got to be my voice and I know that I need to sit down and I need to lock myself away I need to create – if it’s going to be Twitter, I need to write a few hundred tweets. The beauty is technology exists where we can batch it, but …
The proudest thing that I can say about the seminars we were involved in is we took our seminars to the market and for three days or two days we were giving out content. We’re not just giving out the basic content. We were giving out quality content to empower people to see the big landscape because what we did was we stopped telling people that this is a quick fix that you can have a six figure income tomorrow and we show them how.
That is something that basically at our time I felt was probably one of the most authentic approaches that inspired a lot of the people that were part of that prep.
I did the two-hour event and it was successful but, at the end of the day I didn’t feel like I was really able to connect and give value and connect with the right people in the audience.
When I went back, I said, “Look, I don’t want to do … it’s just a sales pitch.” I want to spend an entire day and give away an entire … an education.” And what I immediately notice post those events, the people that I started working with were overall higher quality, more engaged. They’re just all the way across the board by creating that extra connection with them, by giving that extra value.
In that longer period of time, I had more time to be authentic to give them … to set more realistic expectations and stuff and to still get the same results. Everything you said there really resonates and it’s funny because at the time, I don’t know if we were really all that aware of what we were doing as much as we just knew we wanted to give value.
If it’s a product, they’re using it and they’re enjoying it very similar to how we’re using a certain technology to record this podcast. There’s a need, there’s a demand but at the end of the day if you can create that hero formula where the person can rely on your product or your offering, it doesn’t make a difference if you change it a bit or you change the look or the design or the concept or the course, let’s say evolves as the years go along.
As long as they fall in love with the hero concept, you’ve got a lifetime value right there.
Over the last few years we’ve had … Pinterest and stuff like that but I feel like we’ve just over the last few years, two years in particular, it’s really starting to change and there’s disruptors coming in and there’s new stuff happening in social storytelling marketing.
Let’s start off there because the problem with social media and I use this concept in different senses very similar to storytelling marketing and purpose as well. Social media was once referenced as teenage sex. Everybody wanted to do it, but not many people knew how. And what that means really is that everybody wanted to get on the train to figure out what this was.
They started doing things blindly and social media has evolved from that. We went from the stage of owning your media and earning your media to now hitting a world of what we call paid media and we’re now moving into the broadcast media and social storytelling and I’ll explain what that is.
When we talk about paid media, we’re talking about social advertising. You look at some of our clients today that … a realtor for example. He’ll put a post on Facebook. Organically, he’ll have maybe 1% of viewership from his following. He’ll put $10 to advertise that same post and he’ll get 10,000 viewers.
What that’s telling us today is that the social platforms are forcing us to now take their … our advertising dollars and rather than just paying Google advertising, to invest in social media because they have better behavioral demographics. In some cases, better than Google does.
You can target location-based marketing, mobile marketing. Very similar to Google. You can now target behavioral marketing, group marketing and basically have a custom set of exposure based on social advertising.
That has grown significantly to the point where it’s in the billions. It’s basically outperforming what Google used to do on paid ads. Google has now had to challenge and also now look at mobile marketing and everything else.
YouTube for example which is also owned by Google has come up with their own form of advertising which is what we call TrueView marketing and TrueView marketing is you only pay for videos that have been watched a certain period on that particular video ad.
If it doesn’t hit that minute marker, let’s say someone watches it only for two seconds, you don’t pay for that ad.
It’s evolving and that social advertising space is growing significantly. The reason is because it all comes down to eyeballs and exposure. Conversations are happening.
They are marketers on social that are unfortunately abusing the system which is why Facebook has been the more predominant policy upholder when it comes to what you can and cannot do on social media, but we’re also seeing a stage right now of what we call microcontent, and microcontent started with Instagram videos and Vines and then that grew to basically Snapchat which is where the millennials are hanging out right now.
Brian Fanzo is really big influencer in the Snapchat space. He’s a millennial that basically speaks for the millennial market and now brands like Audi and brands like Burger King are now creating Snapchat videos to build that social following for the millennial market and even our Canadian parliament has a Snapchat account that’s constantly feeding and disrupting the space with content.
Microcontent and social advertising are the two really big trends going on. The thing that we’re going to see more of is what we call the broadcasting media which is the live streaming. Live streaming started with LinkedIn doing LinkedIn publishing where you could publish an article in your entire following would see your article.
That evolved from LinkedIn to Facebook live where you see these videos now that says “your friend is now live” and we have Meerkat and Periscope and all these different formats that are allowing people to become the voice of the brand which is perfect for an entrepreneur because now he has a platform to stand on.
Ten years ago, we didn’t have that video captivating software that basically allowed us to build a personal brand. I look at Gary Vaynerchuk, he used Vimeo videos to start his Wine Library TV way back in the day, way back in the day. Now, it’s so much easier.
It’s so much easier to create your own podcast, your own episodes and build content from there. The reason why is because we have smartphones and that’s where we consume most of our content.
When I’m on the road I’m watching my Game of Throne episodes on my iPad. Because of digital streaming and because of how accessible video content is we’re seeing a massive movement on social media.
From a business or a brand or an entrepreneur perspective, you’d go where your market hangs out. You don’t go and create your own marketing space. You go where the market hangs out and show up and you build your brand from there.
That’s why even with Youtube music, it’s out-performing iTunes because that’s where the kids are going. Social media is … is it relevant? Yes. Is it done very well? Yes and no. I think there’s a lot of evolution that’s still happening but let’s not forget that this is just technology.
A lot of people say, “Oh, well we got to invest in a Snapchat strategy and a theory and we need to invest in an Instagram strategy.” They are just platforms where people are having conversations and if you can go in with that concept, everything else is just adaptable and repurposable.
God bless Facebook’s ad platform because it’s finally making Google step up their game and it’s finally opened up an incredible source of traffic for so many businesses. Then you’ve got the live streaming. Live streaming makes perfect sense because effectively you’re talking to a live audience and there’s no limits or restrictions put on how long you can talk for.
I worked with brands to design editorial calendars for example. I’ll go into a brand and we’ll create anywhere from a two to three month editorial calendar.
Their voice, their content but a schedule and what we do is we create what we call filler content on days when we can move or maneuver posts if something happens to the market.
If I’m dealing with a bagel company and they just … there’s an article about the world’s biggest bagel and on Monday I needed to schedule another topic. I would just move that content around, it’s called adaptable content editorial publishing.
What we do then is we build that editorial process and then we need to republish it or repurpose it. Repurposing really comes down to three formats. Video, visuals and text. Video is 3D videos, short videos, video clips.
Visuals could be infographics, could be banners, could be photographs, could be memes, could be vines, you know what I mean?
Then you have the textual content which is a blog post, an email, an article, a press release.
Content, it can be consumed in so many different ways. You could take one message or one publishing post and turn it into 75 different other content pieces based on that. Very similar to when I went up on Ted and I spoke for Ted. They filmed it and published it on Youtube. They took quotes from my talk and published it on Twitter.
They took the entire live streaming process and published it on live streaming. They emailed their database and basically took the transcript of my talk and put it on their email database. Essentially, what they’re doing is maneuvering content.
That answers the how do you keep up with the crazy world of Snapchat and all these other things because essentially you’re just repurposing it and adapting into the type of platform that looks like.
For Snapchat, it could be very simple as live streaming my talk on Snapchat. Do you know what I mean? That’s the element of adapting to the platform. As far as monetizing it, it’s very simple, it’s basically creating traffic funnels. You’ll start to see a lot of these URL shorteners.
People using bit.li or go.ly or something like that. Essentially, what they’re doing is is they’re creating these micro hyperlinks that sends traffic to landing pages. I put a post … a really great example is when I was told that I was speaking for TED and I had the nod.
I put a really heartfelt post on Facebook and it was about three paragraphs long about how this was a bucket list for me and how it took me five years to get there.
It was very authentic. There was no filters. It was basically me just saying how happy I was to speak for this event and I ended up with saying just a very simple copywriting line that said, “If you would like to share this experience with me, please visit this site and grab a ticket and if you’d like to get a discount, use my name Bosco.”
When that post went up at 9:00, it sent about 300 visitors to the landing page for the ticket within a few hours. There was conversion because the marketing guy called me that night and said, “You just blew out all the sales for the day with that one Facebook post.”
That’s the same thing with the realtor. A realtor will put a video of an open house so he’ll do a voice over. You can use Adobe Spark now. Film an entire house that’s being listed in Vancouver and talk about what you’re seeing in the visuals and then he ends with “Here’s the open house. Here’s the date. If you’re interested, contact me.”
20,000 people might see it and out of that 20,000 there’s a percentage of those people that will book an open house. It’s safety in numbers. That’s the monetization funnel right there.
One other thing I just want to rewind on here because you were talking about repurposing content.
First of all, somebody asked me this the other day, I said “Why would I send the same tweet out three times?”
Just for everybody that’s listening, one of the things you need to wrap your head around is if you tweet something, let’s say you have a thousand Twitter followers, the likelihood of any large percentage of those seeing that tweet is slim to none. I don’t know what their most recent status but what’s the how long a tweet is valid for now?
I was sharing it with my Twitter buddies and my Twitters buddies were like, “Great. The average life cycle for a tweet is 30 seconds.”
Three weeks from now, you could take the same link and the same blog link where you’re sending the traffic to but change the subject line again and repurpose it and then on Instagram, you could say a throwback Thursday. Remember the time when I talked about these ten places to go? Well I’ve hit seven of them. How many have you seen from these ten?
It’s just about re-crafting the conversation and changing how you approach it and that’s more effective because then you’re taking an article that has quality content but you’re re-spinning it essentially.
I’ve been doing that with my Youtube video. The Youtube video for the Ted Talk I’ve been … because I have followings in different platforms I’ve got a few thousand on LinkedIn. I have a few thousands on Facebook. I have a Meetup group that’s fairly large.
What I do is I’m taking my Youtube video and I’m basically going from one channel to the other and crafting a special message. It’s the same content on the back end but I’m just crafting it based on the platform. We got it I think about 3,000 views in the last seven days.
I totally agree but I think that and when I say think I’m actually going to reference an interview I did a few weeks ago for the podcast, I’d never heard of this before but there’s now some systems out there I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Meet Edgar. Have you heard of Meet Edgar?
What you can do is you can sit down and you could write, let’s say you go to your blog and you’ve got 50 posts on there. You could sit down and write three or four tweets for each one of those.
Let’s say we have 50 … you end up with a couple of hundred tweets. You put them all in this library. You put together a publishing schedule which is that’s pretty common for … you can do that on Buffer, you can do that on Hootsuite or anything.
What you can do is you can set this up, let it go but what it’ll do is once it starts to run out of nuance, it starts to repurpose and it starts to learn when it’s getting highest responses and it starts to drop but it will share the same tweets over and over again over time.
I might tweet something today for our podcast episode promoting Bosco and this incredible interview we did and then it’s going to send that same tweet out potentially a week later or two weeks later but it’s now repurposing it.
I am always looking at it from the solopreneur standpoint. The solopreneur standpoint is we got about a dozen things going on and we have limited time. Here’s the thing with social, if you start to lose momentum, you start to lose engagement.
I’m finding these fascinating tools like Meet Edgar, eClincher where you can now … you can set those up and create these massive libraries that are going to grow over time and continually reuse it on autopilot. It’s an interesting I think blend of what you’re talking about and repurposing.
The reason why I like to change and craft your repurpose to let’s say three or four times is let’s say John heard you the first time and basically saw that you put a tweet and then three weeks later he sees you again with the same message. His perception is you were running out of content but if you re-crafted the subject line, he’s curious.
He might end up on the same blog post but because you had a different perspective on the front end, he might read it again and that’s the difference there when it comes to changing or crafting it a little bit. That doesn’t … it’s not a biggest game change out there because again it depends how frequently you repurpose and it also depends on who’s seeing it the second or the third time.
You’re utilizing that again, you’re going to get a potentially different segment of your audience and more and more.
I was skeptical but this gentlemen who I was interviewing was one of the first guys I’ve talked to in a very long time that says, “Yeah my primary traffic driver in a health niche is Twitter.” That’s the strategy.
Absolutely, repurposing is so important and it’s stuff that we did as marketers in the 90’s as well. We took our content evolved it and said, “Here’s 2.0. Here’s 3.0.” because we made it better.
Now, we’re in an age of influence currency. You know what I mean? We back then wanted to out-perform our competitors today, we’re aligning with them. Back then we wanted to be the first to the market. Today, we’re collaborating. It’s changed. The whole industry has changed.
You can’t do this on your own. As an entrepreneur, you have to basically work with different people and I think that that’s probably one of the things that you’ve probably missed as well is the fact that there were times where we just jammed and had some amazing times together on the road or what we were doing.
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Now, it is time to take all of the storytelling marketing tips, tools and strategies that Bosco has generously shared with us today and apply that final essential ingredient to making it work for you. That ingredient is simple. It’s action. Take action. Apply what you’ve learned and I will see you in the next episode.
This is your host Derek Gehl signing off.