How to use Storytelling on Social Media

Updated: Sep 26, 2019



Why would you want to go to the trouble of storytelling when marketing and advertising used to do the job just fine in the past? That’s part of the problem. What worked in the past just isn’t effective anymore. Your clients are inundated with advertising and brand messaging from the moment they open their eyes in the morning. There’s almost nowhere they can go to escape it. As a result, they’ve become numb to it. Statistically, your messaging will probably be overlooked by your clients if you’re just relying on marketing and advertising. Storytelling speaks to the heart, and once you’ve grabbed someone’s attention, they will likely stick around to see how the story unfolds. You can use this to your advantage on social media.


Various methods of storytelling:


  • Video is a powerful way of communicating. According to Hubspot, visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content, so you have to capitilise on this if at all possible. If you have the budget, you can have a professional video made. Alternatively, just grab the phone and record a short message, telling a story that highlights the message you want to bring across, and post it to Instagram stories or your Instagram timeline, or even directly to your Facebook timeline. I’ve seen incredible videos that were created with a cell phone, not having professional equipment doesn’t have to be a stumbling block.

  • Post a quote that speaks to you, but, instead of just posting it, tell a short story about why you find it relevant or profound. It moves you from a copy-paste mindset to a creator’s mindset.

  • When you post a photo on Instagram, use the text block to tell a story about the photo, or a memory that the photo ignites. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it’s so much more interesting than just posting a photograph.

  • Video trumps photos, but photos trump text only. Always support text with a photograph. John Medina from Brain Rules says that, when people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.

  • What does a good story look like?

  • A powerful story is more than an anecdote, but, depending on the social media platform you’re going to use, an anecdote may have all you’ll have space for. That’s ok, not every story has to be long and complex. There are various ways to tell stories that captivate your audience. In order for a story to be interesting, it has to include some kind of conflict, the journey to solving that conflict, and the resolution of that conflict. Even if you keep the story short, try to incorporate these elements.


The steps to telling a good story:


  • Set the scene. Create a visual or mental picture that sets the scene for the viewer. Tell them where you were, and why you were there. Include all the details that are necessary to the story, without rambling too much.

  • Introduce conflict. The conflict is the reason you have a story. Conflict can be a fork in the road, or it can be a conflict between people, or a difficult situation you were in, or a problematic situation that needed resolution. This is the crux of your story, the ‘spine’ that supports the body of the story.

  • Expand on the conflict, and how it plays out. Use emotion to grab your viewer or reader.

  • End the story with the resolution. How did you resolve the issue? How do you feel now that it’s in the past? What did you learn from this? Without being preachy, including what you’ve learned personalises a story, producing empathy in your viewer/reader.

What kind of stories work well in a business context?

  • Who the founder is as a person, and how the company got started.

  • How your product or service makes a tangible difference in the lives of your customers. Identifying purpose moves employees from doing their work because they have to, to doing it because they can see the impact it has on someone's life. This can be in testimonial- or case study form.

  • Profiles on different leaders in the organisation, showing their human side.

  • Communicating your company's Why - Watch Simon Sinek's powerful talk on Finding Your Why.

  • Stories about employees going above and beyond the call of duty. These stories inspire other staff members to give more because recognition is a reward.

  • Forward-thinking stories about what it will be like once a certain goal has been achieved. Using the power of visualisation to create an expected outcome in the mind of your employees.

  • Relationship building. Employees generally only know each other on a surface level. The feeling of empathy and comradery grows when employees share their personal stories.

Creating a consistent brand message isn’t that difficult once you are attentive to it, and follow a few basic principles. Get the basics right, and your foundation is set for clear, effective communication on social media.


Start with the basics:


Good grammar and design are the bare minimum, and it amazes me that so many people still overlook these. With all the tools available to help you with this, there's almost no excuse for bad grammar and design.


Grammar:


I use a Chrome plugin called Grammarly. It goes beyond spell check to correcting grammar. It's such a convenient, hassle-free way of ensuring that your spelling and grammar is on point. Of course, it's entirely possible for errors to slip through, but it certainly goes a long way to helping you prevent that from happening. Basic features are free, and for light editing, that's really all you'll need.


Grammarly


A little more advanced, is the Hemingway Editor:


Hemmingway App


The Editor is described as a style checker, instead of a spell checker. Hemingway improves the readability of your text, highlighting where your text is too dense, and suggests removing needless words or splitting sentences where necessary. It’s next on my to-buy list. I suspect you'll learn better writing by using this app, I'm looking forward to seeing my writing improve when I start using it.


Bad Design:


It's 2018. There is no need for bad design, and really no excuse for it whatsoever. I understand that not everyone is a designer, nor can they afford to hire a designer, but there are tools available online that can elevate your social media designs from mediocre to beautiful. I use Canva quite often:

Canva


There are template designs for every social media platform. They are sized correctly, with beautiful fonts and stock images to choose from. There is no need to try to design something from scratch. It's cumbersome, and nobody wants to see Comic Sans anmore. Do the right thing, create beautiful designs with tools that are easily accessible online.


Be Consistent:


Getting your brand messaging across consistently will be the single factor that will build your audience and create a relationship of trust with them. You won’t be able to use storytelling in all your posts, but, if your mind is geared in that direction, you will naturally start gravitating towards storytelling as a means of communication, and you will see the benefits.


Does all of this feel a little overwhelming?


Most business owners are so focused on running and building their business, that creating an audience through storytelling is the last thing that they have time for. I can help you with that. Let’s set up a strategy meeting, where I listen to your story, and together we determine what your goals are. We determine who your target audience is, and then we brainstorm to see what kind of story would best convey your message. We find out what the 'why' is, the reason you're telling your story, and dig a little deeper to find out what's behind it. We look at options and decide on a medium, whether it be a singular method of communication like video or a written piece; or a body of content that can be shared on various platforms. Phone me on 083 280 4468, or e-mail marinda@heatwavestoryagency.com to set up a meeting, and let me help you to tell your story powerfully and authentically.

Johannesburg, South Africa | marinda@heatwavestoryagency.com | +27 83 280 4468
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