What is social media storytelling and how do brands use storytelling in their marketing strategies? The art of storytelling has been around almost as long as humans have and for good reason, because if it’s done right storytelling can be captivating, fun, and bring people closer together. So in an age where social media is where most of our social interaction takes place, brands need to use social media for storytelling. We put together a few guidelines to help your brand create engaging social media storytelling strategies that will draw-in your audience.
Write Like a Storyteller: Try to follow proper writing rules
I’m sure that we all remember our spelling and grammar tests from grade school so dig those memories up and brush up on your grammar because it matters. Storytellers don’t need to be sticklers for AP Style for social media storytelling but should be following basic grammar and spelling. Oxford commas, toward not towards, etc. Because nothing ejects someone from a story like running over a double negative or the wrong use of effect vs affect.
Method to Social Storytelling Madness: Create a story arc
There are a lot of different structures for storytelling, the three-act structure, the five-act structure, Dale Carnegie’s Magic Formula, and many more. Each of these formulas is a great guide for social media storytelling so just pick the method that fits with your strategy, brand, and the social networks network you’re writing for. Here are a few of the main storytelling structures:
- Three-Act Structure: Setup → Confrontation → Resolution
- Five-Act Structure: Exposition → Rising action → Climax → Falling action → Dénouement
- Dale Carnegie’s Magic Formula: Incident → Action → Benefit
- Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle: Why → How → What
- The Hero’s Journey: Departure → Initiation → Return
- Problem → Agitate → Solve
- Before → After → Bridge
- Star → Chain → Hook
Reach your Readers: Get a good understanding of your audience
Without an understanding of the audience that will be reading your brand’s story, you’re pretty much writing blind. If you have customer personas for your target audience, make sure to use them as a guide for how you shape your brand story. Because your customers have an impact on your brand’s story. If you don’t already have customer personas for your target audiences, it might be time to develop some. They will come in handy in more ways than just your social media storytelling strategies.
Once you have an understanding of your target audience, you’ll be able to craft your brand’s social media storytelling to resonate with the desires, hopes, wants, and needs of your audience. This will help your followers feel a deeper emotional connection to your brand the next time they read a storytelling Facebook post or another social post you’ve published.
Your Brand’s Story: Share what makes your brand human
If you had to describe your brand like it was a human being, what are three traits you’d use to describe them? Where did they come from? What’s their story? What are their passions?
Once you are able to answer these questions, you have an understanding of what makes your brand human and how your audience can relate to your brand’s social media storytelling. Take your brand’s human traits and make sure it translates to your storytelling on social media. Is your brand funny? Make sure you have some humor in your posts. Is your brand driven? Give your followers the inspiration they need to be driven as well!
Visual Social Media Storytelling: Show don’t tell
Half of social media is made up of images and videos so a huge part of social media storytelling is all about visual storytelling. There are many cliché phrases used to convey the importance of visual storytelling about pictures being worth a thousand words or drawings that shows at one glance what could spread over ten pages. The reason why we know these phrases is because they’re true.
Yes, there are some amazing authors out there who can create a captivating world within just a few sentences but most people can not. That’s why in many situations, pictures and videos are key to telling a story on social media. To achieve the right kind of visual social media storytelling content you need to make sure that your visual content is:
- Quality: Use the right equipment, take the time you need and plan accordingly to make sure that your pictures and videos are the highest quality possible. It makes a difference.
- Synergistic: Make sure that the pictures and videos that your brand posts on social media mesh well together. Keep your visuals on-brand so that each picture or video is strong enough to stand on its own but creates something even more impressive together with your other visual content.
- Relevant: Have a reason that resonates with your brand’s story for posting any visual content on social media. Don’t just hop on a bandwagon because everyone else is doing it. Make sure it’s relevant for your brand before joining the flock.
Stories with an Impact: Share about what causes matter most to your brand and why
If there is a cause your brand supports, make sure that it’s part of your social media storytelling strategy. Share why it’s important to your brand, show how your brand is getting involved, connect with others who support the same cause and create a community to celebrate the organization and its impact.
When people see that they have a shared interest in the organizations your brand supports, it creates a deeper connection with them. It also helps to further humanize your brand, establish a level of authenticity for your brand, and show your audience that your business stands up for what they believe in.
Interactive Social Media Storytelling: Let the customer create a story based on their experience
You’re not alone to create all of the social media storytelling content for your brand. Don’t forget about your loyal followers, influencers, and brand partners. When you include these members of your brand community in the storytelling process you get a beautiful blend of user-generated content and storytelling. This is interactive social media storytelling and it can change the game. Think of this approach like a choose your own adventure game; there are dozens of outcomes and everyone will shape their own journey.
One of the best examples of interactive social media storytelling is Pottermore’s many quizzes. I’m sure you’re one of many who now know what house they belong to, what kind of wand they have and what their Patronus is. And those results were shared all over social media so that everyone could find out who is in their house and how unique their Patronus is compared to their friends. This experience transported those who took part to the wizarding world and allowed them to join the story of the Harry Potter brand.
When deciding on the social media storytelling platform(s) you want to use for your brand, consider the story you want to tell. Other than that, your brand’s social media storytelling strategy will be unique to your brand and only you can decide on which approach is the best one to fit your distinct brand voice.