Over the past two decades, we have observed a constant struggle specific to B2B technology companies in the adoption of two key communication techniques – storytelling and social media. While all agree on the impact these two techniques bring to brand communication but for most B2B tech companies, the courage to actually execute is … well, a lot more reserved.
The biggest resistance is the relevance of these approaches and how they fit into their corporate brand image. Most felt that storytelling and social media are best reserved for B2C companies and are too ‘fanciful’ for B2B tech companies. However, if we look into the communication objectives of having greater emotional connection with and relevance to your target audience through these two approaches, you will find that it’s actually not too far fetch for B2B tech companies.
The key to good storytelling for B2B tech companies is being able to master the degree of application. If storytelling to you means writing all your corporate materials novel-like, that will of course make a B2B tech brand looks rather silly. Good B2B tech storytelling is being able to grasp a good understanding of what and how much of the storytelling techniques to apply for each piece of writing. To this end, The Hoffman Agency has developed our own proprietary “Business storytelling periodic table”, with the aim to put in more of the science behind storytelling. This table depicts the types of storytelling techniques and the degree of reaction elements. Like chemistry, putting the wrong or too much ‘storytelling chemicals’ in one piece of writing will have it explode in your face. Finding that right chemical mix based on purpose, target audience, channel of communication, etc., is the art and science to a good storytelling piece of material even for a B2B tech company.
Indeed, the social media has the reach to the masses for B2C companies to hawker their wares. But as a B2B tech company, it’s time to stop hiding behind the bits and bytes and show the people behind the brand. The social media should act on two fronts for B2B tech companies – (a) every brand has a personality. People in the organisation make up the personality of the brand. Your direct customers like to be treated as people, not your sales target, and having a platform on social media to interact with them adds a dimension of relevance and emotional connection to your brand (b) help your direct customer generate demand. It is very likely that your customers’ customers are the masses and there is no better place to reach out to them than through the social media. Look, we are in the social media 2.0 era and you cannot afford not to be on social media. With the right storytelling approach, the social media can only help your brand.
Storytelling and the social media are a powerful combination for B2B tech communication. Come on. Be fearless. Take baby steps and you will be surprised by the endless opportunities on this road to discovery.
Cassandra Cheong is managing director APAC at The Hoffman Agency, a member of the Council of Public Relations Firms of Hong Kong (CPRFHK)