If you don’t think followers matter as much as athletic performance, you’re giving the executives across the table way too much credit. Let me give you a peek behind the curtain to put things into perspective. While at adidas, when it came time to sign a new crop of athletes, the first thing I would ask my sports marketing counterpart was, “How big is their social network?” I wanted to know how many people followed them on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. The reasoning was simple: the more people that follow a given athlete, the more people that athlete will reach with each post.
The folks you’re trying to convince to bring you on as an endorser or perhaps as a full-time employee have more projects on their plates than they can handle. Every single one of them is in the midst of a time shortage. Because of that, these folks are going to look at what information is easily available to them, and there’s no simpler way to measure popularity today than through social media following.
Now, I’m not saying buy bots (fake followers) that simply drive up your fan count without anyone interacting with your posts. Engagement within your community is just as important as its size. But I am suggesting that you build a social media strategy that emphasizes network growth (I’ll show you how in chapter 3) and that you start implementing that strategy today.
If you build it, brands will come.
Great brands start with great stories, and great stories leave a lasting impression.
You may not know the school Michael Oher attended or the teams he played for in the NFL, but you no doubt recognize his story. It’s one made famous by The Blind Side, a book and major motion picture that chronicle Oher’s journey from homelessness to professional football. It’s a story that earned actress Sandra Bullock an Oscar and author Michael Lewis national acclaim. More importantly, it’s a tale that has almost certainly guaranteed the permanence of Oher’s name. The offensive lineman from the state of Mississippi is unlikely to finish as one of the greatest to ever play the game of football, but because of his incredible story and the inner workings of the human brain, the name Michael Oher will be remembered well after his career ends.
According to Fast Company, our memories thrive off of storytelling, saying, “It’s far easier for us to remember stories than the cold hard facts.” This claim is supported by a study conducted by Jennifer Aaker, a marketing professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In the study, Aaker’s students were asked to give a one-minute pitch to their classmates. Those in the audience were asked to write down what they remembered from each presentation. The results speak to the power of storytelling, as only 5 percent of the class recalled a statistic, while 63 percent remembered the story.
Stories drive recall, making them critical to building any successful brand, whether it’s for a product, a service, a team, or in our case, a person. The most successful marketers in the world are also not coincidentally the best storytellers. They know that even the most brilliantly designed product alone is not enough. It’s how you present that product that creates demand and brings people back.
The better your story, the stronger your brand.