Spring Cleaning for Your Brand: What’s Your Story?

Tell your story on typewriter
Image: Michail_Petrov-96 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

When you think spring cleaning, what pops into your head? Scheduling time for your staff to move furniture and fixtures around, going through a systematic deep clean? You need to do that, just like you also need to take a good look at your menu to get it ready for summer.

Your social media—your brand, actually—also needs a spring cleaning. I’m not talking about Googling your brand to claim your posting there or on Yelp, going through followers and engaging with their networks, or updating your profiles and pictures. You do need to give your social media a spring cleaning, but it goes deeper.

It starts with asking and answering an important question social media influencer Elliott Clark, known as apartment_bartender on Instagram, asked at the 75th Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Convention (WSWA) just a week ago: “What’s your story?”

Clark’s online presence (46.8K followers on Instagram alone) and relevance reinforce his status as a social media expert within the bar, nightclub and restaurant world. And this expert advises those operating in this business to understand what he sees as the ultimate truth in terms of marketing and guest engagement: “Story is the most significant element for connecting with guests.”

By this point, because you’re a person who exists in the human world, you know two facts about being an operator today. One is that social media helps you tell your story and connect with guests, both loyal and potential. And the other is that Millennials appear to be concerned with authenticity. If you don’t know those two things I can only assume you were literally just born, and while I’m impressed you can read this (I mean, wow!), you really shouldn’t be here unless you’re old enough to work in a restaurant or bar.

We at Nightclub & Bar are not interested in jumping on the “Blame Millennials for Everything!” bandwagon, however. They aren’t the only generation that wants to know the stories behind the venues they visit and the brands with which they consider aligning. We may be deeply ensconced in the Fake News, Alternative Facts era, but people are still able to tell when a brand’s story isn’t authentic.

Clark warns against telling a, shall we say, “creative” story when it comes to you and your brand. Your story needs to be authentic, whereas the telling can be creative. Social media and your website offer you platforms to be creative in your storytelling; just make sure you’re telling the truth. Do not, as Clark cautions, come up with a story that you think your audience wants to hear. They want to hear the truth, so give it to them.

Influencers like Clark are successful—and powerful—because they’re trusted. Clark doesn’t just snap photos of cocktails and blog about home bartending. He has what he refers to as a “trusting conversation” with his audience of more than 46,000 Instagram followers. As an influencer, Clark wields real power because he has told his real story and built upon it, building trust with a community of followers tens of thousands strong.

So, one more time: What’s your story? Think about it. Write it down. Share it with your management and staff to see if it resonates. Ask for help making it compelling while remaining authentic, then come up with a plan to share it with the world, even if that world is just the community in which you operate. If you tell your story with passion and consistency your guests will want to be part of it for years to come.