With Toys R Us declaring bankruptcy and the grim predictions for many retail stores to follow, it is starting to feel like we are witnessing an apocalypse of some kind.

But if you think about it, Toys R Us is an excellent example of a large brand that never evolved with the rise of social media.

What if they had started a show on YouTube, perhaps an engaging cartoon, to reach their target audience? In such a scenario, there is a chance things would have turned out differently. 6-year-old YouTube star ‘Ryan ToysReview’ has a whopping 21 million views on his channel to date, and a recent article suggested he earned over $11 million from his channel in 2017 alone. If Toys R Us had hired a kid like him, maybe there would have been a less fortunate outcome.

As we observe the death of large corporations without interesting personas, one thing has become very clear: companies have to be innovative with their content marketing efforts in order to stand out in today’s marketplace.

1. Don’t believe your own hype

Even if you are a well-known brand, you still must attract and convert fleeting buyers. Ask yourself, where is the best place to find your target market? The social media algorithms are always changing – brands saw their reach on Facebook deplete following the January announcement by CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying that users should, “expect to see more from friends, family, and groups” and less from “businesses, brands, and media”. When the algorithms change, your marketing efforts have to change in response.

2. Use effective storytelling

A social media algorithm’s reach is built on engagement. To get a comment or to convert someone into a buyer, you need to evoke emotion in them. Tell inspirational stories about your company, its founders, and your employees.

In The Significant Objects experiment, devised by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, researchers auctioned off cheap thrift-store objects via eBay. In the item descriptions, they had creative writers share a short story about the item’s history. The items resold for a staggering 4,000% mark up, demonstrating the direct effect a good narrative has on sales!

3. Use video to stay above the noise

There is a lot of ‘noise’ across social media with people screaming for attention, so what is the best type of content to get the brand reach that you desire? Technology giant Cisco predicts 80% of content next year will take video form. As such executive producer Chris LaVoie, creator of The Movement documentary, urges companies to use film production to give their marketing something extraordinary and unique.

For example, in his show, CEOs from all corners of the world gather in a remote castle to act as mentors in a competition about innovation. As the CEOs mentor their candidates, viewers gain insight into their knowledge and learn who they are as individuals. With the show featured on Amazon Prime, it is a great way for those CEOs to reach an audience of 100 million and leverage on their participation to get their company a year’s worth of high-quality video content for marketing purposes. Through the show, their companies can tap into new markets and increase the content’s shareability by engaging and tagging the other CEOs, forming ‘digital partnerships.’

4. Respect EQ

As we continue to adapt, we must recognise that the value your company provides must have a soul. Instead of always telling consumers how great your company is, tell them where the cracks are. Tell them a story of your company’s weaknesses, the challenges it faced and what makes it less than perfect. That is when the company begins to build intimacy and trust and ultimately gets the audience to buy into its story.