4 Brands Winning at Visual Storytelling in Social Ads (And How You Can Too)

Posted by Rowland Marsh on 05/06/18 17:33
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Visual storytelling in social media marketing

The world of commerce has changed a great deal in recent years. Evolving technology, social media and consumer behaviours have changed the game for marketers. Retail brands no longer need a huge budget to build a successful marketing strategy. Visual storytelling in social ads is a powerful tactic! 

In this blog, we look at 4 brands winning at brand storytelling and outline our top tips for creating effective paid social ads using visual storytelling. 

Visual storytelling for paid social

Roughly 74% of shoppers go to social media channels to help them make buying decisions. So, it makes sense for retail brands to showcase their ads here to attract prospects. After all, 56% of consumers are following brands on social media. And 31% say they're using social channels to look for new products to purchase.

These "social shoppers" are exactly who you want to target. But they're not attracted to typical ads – they're engaging with companies that tell compelling stories.

Here's a look at how some of the brands which are using visual storytelling effectively in social media campaigns.

1. TOMS: One-for-one

If you're not already aware of the ongoing trend at TOMS, then you're in for a treat. This company decided to do something that would set their brand apart from the others. In 2011, they created a narrative the touched millions of consumers' hearts.

Its story centred around the poor children in third world countries that live daily without shoes. The brand created a cause that consists of them donating a pair of shoes to a needy child each time someone purchases a pair of TOMS shoes.

More recently, they took it a step further and made May 10th #OneDaywithoutShoesDay. They agreed to donate a pair of shoes for every person who tagged a snapshot of themselves out and about barefoot.

Visual storytelling social media ads Toms

The campaign in 2016 lead to 27,435 children in 10 countries receiving a new pair of shoes. Not bad for a one-day campaign!

2. Mouth Foods: Crafting stories to feed your Soul

Here, you have an indie New York brand that's using social media to really drive its story. Mouth Foods is very active on social networks, like Instagram, telling the story behind its foods and drinks products.

Visual storytelling social media ads Mouthfood

The craft compelling stories on their social posts to make them really stand out. The stories give context and are evocative. This example from Mouth Foods shows how their social media marketers simply tied the brand's cold brew and energy bars to a historical fact about waking up early in the morning.

Everyone can definitely relate to need to get a good and productive start to the day! And the accompanying image is captivating!

3. Gap: a wonderful play with still shots

Social networks like Facebook have a clever ad slideshow tool that can really make your ad campaigns stand out.

Visual storytelling social media ads Gap

That's exactly what Gap did in our example above. The brand took three still images from a video they created and pieced together a moving photo shoot. The story here is simple and to the point, yet creative.

And as you can see, it received tens of thousands of views!

4. Google: because some stories are best told via video

It's no surprise that Google is a master at telling brand stories in its campaigns. Rather than focusing on static imagery, Google often uses the most powerful format for brand storytelling  video. Check out this great campaign below:

As you can see, Google does an excellent job of telling an intriguing (and emotional) tale, whilst at the same time showcasing the power of its search engine. It's clever, it's smart, and it worked. The video received over 100K likes and tens of millions of views!

So what can you do to emulate the power of these brands? Here are a few tips from our social media marketing experts...

Make sure you're using the right platform

Your target audience will favour certain social media networks and it's crucial for you research and track the social media usage and behaviours of your buyer personas.

If you're pushing out social ads, make sure you target your key personas effectively. Also, consider consumer engagement on different channels and the purpose and format of your campaigns. For example, you'll find Facebook users engage more with product videos than LinkedIn users.

It doesn't matter how great your ad is, if it's on the wrong paid social channel it won't yield the best ROI.

Tell your brand story and sell the emotion

Today, ads aren't just about selling products. They're about selling emotion. If you're able to capture the right sentiment, then you'll drive more leads and conversions via social ads.

But in order to pull this off, you need to have an in-depth understanding of what appeals to your audience. For instance, a love story may resonate with younger audiences, while retrospective videos may better match the older generations.

Use your personas insights and research to find the right story, which will capture the hearts of your customers.

Be real, be human and be relevant

We can't stress enough how important it is for your brand content to be genuine and relevant. If it doesn't resonate with your audience, then they'll dismiss it quickly.

And if they get any hint that your brand doesn't really believe or support its own message, then this will really hurt your campaign, your click-through rate and even your brand reputation.

Use visuals as much as possible

It doesn't matter whether you use still images, gifs or video imagery, visuals help tell your story. Today's consumers thrive on visual content, so you'll have a much easier time attracting them with engaging imagery, like memes, videos and infographics. 


Remember, social media platforms are just that  social. This is where people choose to view, like, comment and share content. If you can create a compelling, visually-engaging ads to promote on social channels, then they can really travel.

Encourage people to share, interact and even become part of the story. Consider branded hashtags and inviting people to tag themselves in posts related to your campaigns. User generated content is a powerful marketing tool and can really further your content's reach.

Did you find this blog helpful? Why not get our free guide to creating an effective paid social strategy? The guide is full of expert ad campaign tactics, best practice tips and social channel comparisons. Download it now!

Download Paid Social Strategy Guide

If you need expert help building a successful paid social strategy, you can contact us today. Book a free consultation with Enchant's paid social experts!

Enchant is a leading UK digital marketing agency, based in London. Our experienced marketing consultants specialise in paid social media and email marketing strategy. Our social media marketing experts can help your drive awesome results and ROI through paid social campaigns!

Topics: Social Media, Brand messaging, Ads, Branding, Brands, Facebook, Facebook ads, Facebook business, Facebook campaigns, Instagram, LinkedIn, Marketing strategy, paid campaigns, paid social, paid social ads, Paid social campaigns, social media marketers, Social media marketing, Social strategy, Storytelling, visual impact, Visuals, Storytelling marketing, Stories, paid social strategy, visual storytelling

Rowland Marsh

Written by Rowland Marsh

Rowland is the Marketing Manager at Enchant Agency. He is a writer, content marketer and former film reviewer. Rowland studied Literature and Philosophy at UEA and has a background in promotions, marcomms and print media.

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