Brand stories are an increasingly essential feature of online marketing strategies. You’ve probably noticed the prevalence of “stories” on various social media platforms, so it should come as no surprise that they represent a common way of engaging with online content for many different types of consumers. By turning some of your own content into brand stories, you can attract attention from those consumers in a very natural way, without making it obvious that you’re pitching to them.

Of course, the first step in this strategy is figuring out what your own brand story is. But it’s better to think about it as figuring out the first of many brand stories, because as your introductory narrative starts to attract readers and viewers, it can and should spawn new stories on more specific topics. Some of those stories will be direct continuations of what you initially laid out for your followers, and some of them will be user generated.

Both categories of brand stories can play a very significant role in fostering long-term engagement while also clarifying your brand identity for people who become aware of your business later on. In the first place, your own stories can serve to update existing customers about new products or services, as well as promotions and special events. In the second place, customer-generated brand stories can help to put your brand into a larger context by showcasing some of the ways in which those products and services have affected real people.

Various brand stories may find various outlets for their telling. Subscriber emails and on-site blog posts are natural fits for brand stories, but so are social media posts, online press releases, and more. The above-mentioned phenomenon of social media stories exist for a reason, and should be leveraged by a social media marketing company in service of brand stories whenever possible.

That relatively new feature of social media is designed to front-load the most significant and most interconnected updates so that followers will see it and feel immediately up-to-date on what the account owner wants them to know about. It’s a great outlet for brand stories that can be communicated with minimal written language while still making it clear to dedicated followers how they fit into everything they’ve already read about your company and its operations.

At the same time, social media stories should have a clear enough hook that they end up leading new followers back to the main social media feed or the company website in order to get up to speed on what they’ve been missing. The process of integrating brand stories into a larger digital marketing campaign is an excellent test for the design of your marketing funnel – the web architecture that leads the greatest number of people from an initial point of content through a series of interactions to the point of sale.

These days, it’s easiest to coax people through that funnel if you can convince them that they’re never really being advertised to. Instead of giving them a specific sales pitch, it’s often better to tell them brand stories that they’ll find interesting, then count on them to make that interest pay off over the long term.