And for many marketers working in social media, their job is to tell a story.
Storytelling is about communicating an idea, a lesson, theory or other information in a sequence known as a narrative.
A narrative is connected by a beginning, middle and an end however, for social media marketing it isn’t always this rigidly structured.
The concept of storytelling hasn’t changed but the platforms on which we share them has.
With the advent of social media and the ever-evolving competition for consumer attention, you now have to tell story in new and captivating ways, often within short timeframes.
So, how can you use storytelling in social media to communicate a message about your brand?
Here are a few tips.
SEARCH FOR STORY IDEAS
All good ideas can begin with research.
Take a look at existing brands and social media accounts that are using storytelling in compelling ways. What are they saying about their brand? How are they delivering that message?
Now think about the ways that your brand can share its story. Does your brand want to delight, surprise, inspire or educate through its content? And how can you do this on a smaller scale, such as through a 60-second video on Instagram or a micro blog on Facebook?
If your business is a bakery that makes pretty cakes, for instance, and your goal is to inspire and educate your consumers, how can you do this through storytelling on social media?
Perhaps some striking photography of your latest creations will work well on Instagram – it’ll not only showcase your product range but may also inspire customers who take joy from looking at beautifully decorated cakes.
For the education angle, a short video on Facebook that shows people how to create icing flowers, paired with a written caption that summarises the key steps, might be a way to share a skill through a story.
Ultimately when you engage in storytelling, it’s a way of understanding yourself and the world around you.
The good news is that your story doesn’t have to be too clever or a Hollywood-level production to engage. Often it is the relatable, day-to-day stories that captivate people the most.
If you’re still stick for ideas, create a mood board or brainstorm with your colleagues. Alternatively, topic generators, Google Trends and asking your audience for ideas are all ways you can generate fresh ideas for your content.
Just remember that it is important to be clear on why you’re creating stories – define the intention and build your story around that.
CONTENT MUST ENGAGE
First and foremost, the story has to grab the attention of the viewer in the moment they come across it.
And a great story will produce a reaction. How do your users feel and what do they do after they’ve consumed your story?
Sharing an emotion connected to an event or creating a visual narrative are some ways that storytelling can have an impact.
Humans of New York is a great example of powerful storytelling about the human condition.
On social media, the brand grabs attention quickly through a striking portrait photo of the subject paired and continues to engage with a caption that shares a short story about the subject’s life.
The subject’s story will often involve a lesson they have learned, or it will highlight their plight. But at the essence of the story is a connection to the human experience that any onlooker can relate to or sympathise with.
What began as a photography project to collect an exhaustive catalogue of New York’s inhabitants has now grown into a project that shares the stories of all walks of life from across the globe.
You may have heard the idea that people don’t buy products, they buy the story that the product represents.
Think about the story that your brand represents. What does your brand want to convey and how can that be shared within a storytelling framework?
THINK OF STORIES IN MICRO FORM
When it comes to social media, you need to think about storytelling in micro moments.
Micro-content refers to short, powerful bursts of marketing material. It’s about creating ways to keep your brand in front of your prospects and customers, by building trust, credibility and authenticity, and creating paths for new customers to your business.
When you think about how people consume content on social media, it is often on-the-go or while rapidly scrolling through a feed, and attention span is limited.
Therefore, stories need to be told within the constraints of a bite-sized Facebook post, a short video series on Instagram Stories or via a succinct tweet on Twitter.
Micro blogging is also on the rise and this is one way that stories can be shared on social media.
Perhaps you’ve written a long-form post for your company blog that will be shared as an article link on Facebook and in your email newsletter.
Is there any way you can summarise that blog post into a 250-word version for an Instagram post? This is a great way to repurpose a story, in a shorter form, and make it suitable for a platform like Instagram where people want to consume content quickly without leaving the app.
Other tips for embracing storytelling in your social media posts:
Use video and visuals: Visual content receives more engagement on social media, and you can truly harness the power of an ‘image that is worth a thousand words’.
Find your uniqueness: Is there something that makes your brand exclusive, distinct, quirky or unusual? Infuse this into your storytelling.
Make it personal: People trust a person more than a faceless brand. Are there ways to make your brand more personal? Can you show the people working behind the scenes? Can you feature real customers who use and love your product?
5 Quick Tips for Local Retailers to Beat Big Brands this Christmas!