Kirk Chambers of Brothers and Craft: The Importance of Storytelling Over Strategy in Social Media
Social media is the name of the game these days. With so many planning tools, editing apps, and expert resources providing their tips for success, it can be hard to navigate the playing field. Last month, I attended a presentation by Kirk Chambers, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Brothers and Craft, who spoke about how to use Instagram effectively for your business. What was most compelling and refreshing was his emphasis on storytelling rather than strategy.
Brothers and Craft (@brothersandcraft) is a creative lifestyle brand based in Charleston that was founded by four brothers. Raised all over the South, they credit their appreciation for craftsmanship, storytelling and community to their upbringing and it’s these values that inform their brand. They’ve also worked with some pretty great companies like J.Crew, Ford, Shinola, and Levi’s among many others.
Below we asked Kirk to share his insights with The Southern C…
Instagram has become a highly competitive landscape. What is your advice to younger brands who may not have the best photography skills nor a dedicated social media team?
We used to laugh when we heard someone talk about social media becoming a full time job, but I don’t think anyone is laughing now. Social media has become an influential way of sharing information, and using it should play an integral role in anyone’s business.
Creating quality content is hugely important today. If you can’t create it yourself, outsource whatever it is you’re not good at; find someone who can consistently manage it. Perhaps you can hire a credible, creative intern to perform posting schedules, manage content creation, and photography. Colleges and universities are strong with ambitious, eager young people who want a hand in creative work. Utilizing them will give them a great working experience, and you’ll be filling a void in your business by connecting with people.
What are your strategies for a brand who is looking to increase their following and engagement?
1) Focus first on engagement, then followers. Having loads of followers who don’t care anything about your brand won’t help you get to where you want to be.
2) Be a person. Social media is another way you can connect with people. Engage with them like you would if it were your personal account.
3) Talk about other people, highlight their stories, skills, new restaurants, what’s happening in your community, and so on. If you take great photos and connect with other people, they’ll notice and do the same for you. The more you engage with people, tag accounts, use hashtags, and show your location, the more visibility you create for yourself.
4) Build relationships with the people who follow you by creating a unique hashtag, and people can use it to share their creative photos. The incentive for using the hashtag could be that they’ll win something, or maybe you’ll repost their photo, maybe you’ll make a charitable donation, etc. Companies like Iceland Air (#MyStopover) and Veuve Clicquot created hashtags that encourage people to take really good photography for their company.
Yes, I really loved the examples you provided of Veuve Clicquot, Sharpie, GE, and Maersk Line, who are using Instagram to feature their product or industry in creative ways, sometimes showing the people behind their brand as opposed to the product itself. How can brands learn from this and use social media creatively for themselves?
At the end of the day, it’s all about people. When you find ways to highlight people, brands, your employees, entrepreneurs, their stories, their product, community members, their passion, and why it’s important, you’ll be far more successful than someone who solely pushes product or sales.
Do you have any advice when it comes to navigating brand partnerships with influencers for social media?
These campaigns can be successful if they’re run right. If you’re considering paying someone to promote your brand or your product, be cautious. Just because they have a lot of followers, doesn’t mean they’re the best fit for your brand. Do your research, find people on social media who are worth working with. Understand their engagement and their followers. Running big giveaways with multiple brands together typically works well, because you can reel in different circles of people. Beyond that, you can gain new followers and emails. If you want to go the giveaway route, find a third party website like Rafflecopter.com. They have widgets you can embed into your site to drive traffic, collect data with, and keep it organized.
What are your tips for content planning and management? Is this something you map out for Brothers and Craft?
We haven’t perfected our method yet, but we definitely pay attention to it. We try to fill our content onto a calendar and schedule it out over time. For content management and scheduling, I would look into platforms like Hootsuite or a new platform called CrowdReach, a Charleston based company.
What are your favorite tools for editing and planning?
We use the VSCO app for iPhone and we edit our DSLR photos in Adobe Lightroom.
What are your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat for brands and how should strategies for these channels be similar or different from a brand’s strategy for Instagram?
Understanding each platform’s strengths and weaknesses can really help you with allocating your time, money, and so on. Facebook ads, for instance, can drive a lot of new traffic to your website, and even get you some new customers, but that costs money. Instagram emphasizes more of a visual story, and might be more compelling and engaging in the long run. We’ve engaged the most on Instagram and it hasn’t cost us money.
From your perspective, what is one social media myth?
There is so much emphasis on gaining “likes” and followers. If you only focus on these aspects, you’re missing the point. Just focus on your story and how you can sincerely share that story. If you create meaningful things that people can identify with, then you’re doing your job. Over time people with catch on and track your story. It doesn’t always translate to comments or likes, but in the long run, people will listen, and they’ll follow you.
What is one thing you wish people would stop doing on social media? What is one thing you’d like to see more of?
More stories and more original content. It’s frustrating to find new accounts that only copy or repost other people’s pictures to promote their own brand. There’s a difference between brands that have a culture of people creating content or taking pictures using their product vs. someone who just uses other people’s content.
Thank you, Kirk!