Flashback to the time when you did check your Instagram or Twitter profile every morning after wake-up to see if you got new followers or comments, and it turned out someone left you.
Were you disappointed, right?
Maybe, you’re not in this situation before. But it’s a normal phenomenon in the digital world. Everyone is seeking social media engagement. The volume depends on their specific needs.
Many of them have probably asked, “How to get more followers? What do they want to hear? Or what content they want to read?”
The answer is storytelling.
But what’s precisely storytelling? And how to do it right?
Author J.K. Rowling once said: “No story lives unless someone wants to listen.” If you want to be a true storyteller, create engaging stories that can turn people into listeners, and then they’ll become your followers.
It’s just the beginning. In this article, I will talk more about social media storytelling and how to tap into it.
Let the fun begin!
Table of Contents
What is storytelling?
If you are a book lover, continually searching for new books and reading them is normal. But you must have one or some favorite authors that you will not hesitate to buy and read all of their pieces. Those authors are already successful over the others in terms of captivating your interest and interactions.
And surely, the reason is that they tell you good stories.
In other words, they do storytelling. So, how can we define storytelling precisely? Is it the act of telling a story through a thousand words you’ve seen much in books?
That’s just one side of the story. The understanding lies in the fact that stories go beyond pieces of literature.
Stories, indeed, can not only be found in books. In reality, they are a universal language that everyone can use and understand. They appear in every form of communication like daily conversations, written papers, or blog posts on the Internet. A story that can provoke the connection between people is at the heart of storytelling.
Here’s how we define “storytelling”:
Storytelling is the process of using facts and narratives to communicate and convey specific messages to the audience. Stories are revealed through words and actions with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment.
Storytelling always presents a story or narrative. It encourages the listener’s active imagination and involves a two-way interaction between a storyteller and one or more listeners. Storytelling happens in many situations and reflects different cultures.
However, one common characteristic of all forms of storytelling is that it empowers listeners to visualize vivid, sensory elements of the story based on the storyteller’s performance and their own experiences and understandings.
What is social media storytelling?
As mentioned earlier, stories come in any form beyond what you see in books or movies. And now, people are creating many stories on social media networks. Someone posts a status on Facebook about how he becomes a successful marketer. Or a composer unfolds the story behind her latest song in a vlog on Youtube. Both of these cases are storytelling. More precisely, they’re social media storytelling.
Social media storytelling is the process of using social media platforms to tell stories about your brand, products, or whatever to captivate your audience.
Don’t assume that storytelling on social media is just another tactic to sell products or services. It enables you to expose your brand to your audience, tell them what your brand is all about.
We usually read stories that have specific characteristics such as a beginning, middle, and an end with climax or conflict. They typically convey some sort of moral lesson, thoughts, beliefs, or philosophy about the world and human beings. Storytelling, in a social media marketing sense, is not an exception.
If you tell stories only to sell something, your stories will be more likely to be pushy promotions and slick sales messages. They are just boring and soulless that can’t touch your audience’s heart and engrave any special impression on their mind.
If you want a spellbinding example of storytelling, I would like to recommend Google’s #StayHomeSaveLives campaign. Everyone is using this hashtag, staying at home, and fighting against the pandemic together, so it may not be a unique campaign by Google.
However, this mighty search engine has successfully bundled top searches in this challenging time into a heartwarming and inspiring story on social media. It shows how people around the world are trying to help healthcare workers. It encourages people to stay quarantined and maintain social-distancing to restrict the spread of Coronavirus.
Why social media storytelling is important?
Connecting with other people is one of the highest forms of human beings’ communication. And good storytelling is the key to it. If you’re telling a story and another person engaged in it, you two are in sync with each other. Storytelling is the trigger of communications, and that’s why it’s so powerful.
Storytelling has psychological superpowers which make it a powerful marketing tool:
- Emotion: When you hear a story and feel a personal connection, which isn’t just theoretical; it’s based on some fascinating neuroscience facts. While hearing a story, many more areas of your brain activate and become engaged. That’s why telling stories raises personal connections and deeply emotional attachments better than facts.
- Action: The connection and emotion that stories arouse don’t just pull on our heartstrings; they can influence our behavior substantially. A series of experiments by the neuroeconomist Paul Zak proved the fact. People who watched a video about an ill boy had higher levels of oxytocin in their brain that made them more inclined to donate money to a stranger.
- Value: Stories do elicit our emotions, sympathy, and actions. More than that, stories have a substantial influence on our perceiving the value of something. Brands can add more subjective value to their products with invented stories. This theoretical conclusion was already signified by the Significant Objects Project.
- Memory: Storytelling is embedded in our culture, engraved in our hearts, and thus, has a connection with our memory. Stories cause us to memorize things more palpably and keep them in our long-term memory. It’s known as “The Story Method” of memorization.
How to do storytelling on social media platforms?
Stories allow us to build brands’ personalities and easily connect with customers. It seems to have so much to do with storytelling.
Can we create good stories on social media that are the biggest playground for trendspotters? In addition to the limitations of social media posts on some channels, is it possible for storytellers to thrive on social media?
Here’re some ways to become a real storyteller on the four most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube:
As Facebook doesn’t limit the number of words on a post, you can write your entire story. Instead of summarizing the story or just mentioning some key points, it’s better to write longer Facebook posts. It works well if you want to captivate audiences by incredible stories rather than promoting a new product or driving traffic to another site.
A great example of Facebook storytelling is the Humans of New York Facebook Page. Their post is quite long and requires people to click “See more,” but it gets significant engagement.
Be a visual storyteller by making a visually appealing Instagram profile - simultaneously, tell a captivating story. Use three, six, or nine separated images or videos to create a completed huge one.
It’s a creative way to make your Instagram profile look more enchanting and appealing in your audience’s eyes. You can refer to the rule of thirds to ensure that your photo composition is correct and to the point.
Let’s see how Moon think outside the box when they first introduced their brand with a bang:
It’s a great idea to have your own hashtag that spreads your brand’s story. It enables you to collect other people’s stories in your community. As long as your followers understand your purpose through the hashtag and use it in their tweets, your hashtag doesn’t have to be always trending. So use hashtags effectively with a proper planning in your social media marketing.
The #HealthyAtHome hashtag goes viral and gets a lot of positive responses from the Twitter community the past few days.
You’re at the right place if you’re wondering whether it’s worth investing in storytelling via Youtube videos. Did you know that 85% of internet users in the US watched video content monthly? No wonder, video is the future of marketing. It can capture people’s attention more than text content.
You can start with a series of videos about your company, employee, customers, or whatever content that you think will be interesting enough for viewers.
Your videos don’t need to be too long, keep it short but high-quality.
6 tips and practices to optimize your social media storytelling campaign
Know your audience
Before writing a story, ask yourself, “Who are your listeners? Who will engage with your story the most? You need to understand your audience to create a compelling story.
The best way to understand your audience is to identify customer personas. You will get to know who might be interested in your stories. It’ll create a foundation for you to create a story that resonates with your listeners, readers, or viewers.
Develop a “long” story
It’s essential to look at your business goals in both the short-term and long-term before developing your stories on social media. Individual stories should be illustrated in every piece of your content including clips, social media posts, or images, which creates a whole story of your brand and business.
Once you realize that every piece of content you produce contributes to your brand and business story, you’ll want to get audiences involved in your story over the long term. It’s why your story should connect with your end goals.
Write as a writer
Even if you have little or even no background or experience in writing, you still can create a storyline that everyone would love to read.
Think about how to get attention? Write something creative, unique, and compelling, or arouse a sense of curiosity in your audience.
Make your story meaningful
An interesting story might be enough for audiences to tap a “like.” But what makes them more inclined to engage and take action is a meaningful story.
When you tell a story that is deeply meaningful to the audience, it can provoke their emotions and build a strong connection with your brand. It’s more critical when they value your meaningful story and engage with your brand and business in the long run.
So, before developing your story, figure out what is meaningful to your audience.
Use social tools
If you find it hard to do storytelling, there are many practical tools at your disposal. Some outstanding candidates are Instagram stories, Snapchat stories, or Facebook stories.
It’s easy to create content on these available tools. Each of them allows you to create real-time videos with multiple fabulous filters and effects. If you’re targeting millennials and young demographic, storytelling on these types of social media tools are worth your efforts.
Also, use social media scheduling tools to maintain a constant flow of storytelling content on all of your social media platforms.
Leverage archetypes of social media storytelling
It is the use of a part to represent the whole of something or vice versa. For example, Airbnb uses customer’s experience and photos to tell their brand story. They add stories to customers’ pictures and post them on Facebook via posts and albums. It makes customers’ experience in destinations more real and encourages more people to use Airbnb services.
OriginsIt’s a classic way of telling brand stories. It means you include your audience in your story from the beginning. It’s better to actively interact with your audience and find what they need, what they want to read before writing your story. You’ll need to put a lot of effort and capacity into producing content that matches your audience’s interest. On an exchange, this archetype helps you create authentic conversations and drive valuable engagement.
SpoilersRemember that your audience is an integral part of your business. You can’t expect your story to be successful if it’s irrelevant to your audience.
In order to make the audience feel involved with your story and palpably see them as a part of it, create content that they can relate to, communicate with them on social media, update regularly, and share their stories, not just yours.
Storytelling is an art. It goes beyond a piece of paper with a beginning, middle, and end. There are many creative ways for you to create unforgettable stories. But I hope that what I mention in this article will be helpful for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Social media storytelling is a creative process to engage followers with your brand’s values, purpose, and product. Storytelling on social media platforms helps you to tell stories about your brand, products, or whatever to captivate your audience.
Instagram is a visual communication platform. Try to incorporate your stories in pictures, but never forget the importance of brief captions. Post about your company history, behind the scenes, charity works, and your compassion with social values.
Try creative techniques like using three, six, or nine separated images to make a collage or use the carousel feature to engage the user with a single post. You can also maintain a fixed color tone to depict your brand’s personality.