In a recent article, DIY Marketers covered books on storytelling and tools. Now let’s apply those principles to one of the most complicated (even though it doesn’t look like it) marketing channels to date: social media. Specifically, we’re going to focus on three specific channels for B2C (Business 2 Consumer) industries like retail, service, and hospitality. Those three channels are:

Principles of Effective Storytelling

Ready? Let’s go.

Before we get started, we need to lay out some principles to guide our efforts. Good storytelling, no matter what medium. follows some key principles. Those principles include:

  • Focused:  A good story should focus on one central message or effect that you want to leave with your audience. You can definitely include other messages in the story but there should be one primary message or feeling that you want to leave with your audience.
  • Logical (most of the time) Without logic built into your story (usually in the format of beginning, middle, and end framework), your audience will not participate in the story-telling process with you.
  • Value-driven Your story should embody your values. These values come out in your story through the characters you choose, the words you select, and the things you pay attention to. Audience members pick up on the values you express in your stories and look to see if you embody the values from the stories you share.
  • Short: The best stories are short and to the point. They don’t veer off into unnecessary side trips that throw your reader off balance. The best stories deliver the message, plot, and values for their audience wrapped up in a bow.

Once you have the broad principles, it’s time to apply them to specific social media channels. Let’s get to the 15 strategies and tips:

Facebook

1. Facebook Live: Use Facebook Live to tell the story of a new product/service, tell ongoing stories about your product/service or allow customers to participate in your ongoing stories. 

 

 

2. Facebook Photo Album: Use photo albums to tell a visual story about your business such as your business’ origin story, a story of a customer using your product, or a visual campaign. When sharing that story in your album, feel free to break the trend. Post in reverse chronological order or post from different angles.

 

 

3. Holiday-Inspired Stories: The holidays are a great time for telling stories. As a business, you can share heart-warming and inspirational stories through something as simple as a series Facebooks post or as complex as a Facebook video. (Note: If you are looking for a Hollywood-style production, YouTube’s Director Onsite program might be able to help with that.) Some of the stories you might consider:

  • Employees sharing why they like a holiday
  • Customer review about a holiday shopping experience with your business
  • Fictional story about a legendary character like (Santa Claus) that ties into your overall marketing theme

 

4. User-Generated Content: Creating content, especially stories, on Facebook can be tiring. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. There are many people in your audience who would be more than contribute content that adds to your story. This includes user-generated videos, user-generated captions, and even full-fledged stories.

 

 

5. Facebook Ads: Most businesses focus on conversions with Facebook ads, but Facebook ads can also serve another purpose. They can tell a story. Telling a story through Facebook ads, however, don’t just entertain. It also sets you up for higher conversions. (Just ask Neil Patel!) For more information on this, feel free to check out AdEspresso’s “Master the power of Storytelling in your Ads” or “Brand Storytelling with Sequential Advertising on Facebook” from Stat of Digital

Twitter

6. Twitter Moments: Use Twitter Moments: If you’ve ever wanted to share related Tweets in one place, Twitter Moments is one place you can do it. You don’t even have to leave Twitter. In just a few clicks, you can create your own “moment’ to capture breaking news, event updates, behind-the-scenes footage, and other live-action events.

 

Flickr/Ron Mader

 

7. Storify: Storify offers another option for curated content, but it allows users to add more content than just Tweets. Users can load up Google search results, Facebook postings, YouTube videos, and more in one convenient location. One additional benefit of Storify is that Twitter users are notified that of their listing in your story. This is a quick and easy way to boost social media Twitter mentions

 

8. Twitter Trends Twitter Trends are specific topics that people on Twitter are talking about at the same time. These topics can be local (city) or global and usually discusses something currently happened (not always). As a business, you can use these trends to tap into the popular conversations of people around you (particularly helpful if you run out of content!). For example, if you are in the retail industry and a fashion event occurs, you can tell the story of your business preparing to attend the event, attending the event, and insights and friendships made after the event.

 

Screenshot of Twitter Trends from June 7, 2017

 

9. Twitter Hashtags Twitter hashtags are Tweets that include the pound symbol (#) around certain words. By adding the symbol to those words, these words become links to other Tweets. This makes it searchable to anyone looking for related people and trends. Hashtags are a great way to get your content in front of a global audience for free.  The trick is using the hashtag in the right way to tell your story.

There are two basic ways to include your business story into popular hashtags. The first is to integrate your story into a popular hashtag. For example, if it’s #NationalFudgeDay, a business owner could share about why they love fudge or a story about a kitchen mishap at your business that includes fudge. In this way, you are contributing your story rather than monopolizing a hashtag.

The other way is to create your own hashtag.

10. Fictional Character or Mascot As a business, you aren’t limited to posting about yourself. You can post as a mascot (like the Energizer Bunny) or someone else (like a fictional employee in your office). You can use this fictional account on a day, week, or even permanent basis.

For example, you could Tweet like a fictional salesperson who is a little bit snarky to coworkers but really helpful to customers. You might post a story about a fictional employee on Facebook starting their first day at your business and ask for insights on how to welcome them to the business.

Instagram

11. Visual Story Buffer offers an interesting way to use your Instagram account in a way that you might not have thought of. Many businesses focus on posting interesting and visually appealing photos. They don’t focus on the overall story of their entire Instagram profile create. That’s where this Buffer article comes in.

For example, instead of creating random posts about a topic related to your business, your business could focus on posting images that share the full story when you look at the entire profile. As shared in the Buffer article, you can use a tool like Instagrids to accomplish that.

12. Instagram Hashtag  All major social media networks use the hashtag, Instagram included. Like Twitter, you can create your own hashtag or create a story that ties into a popular hashtag.

13. Instagram Stories Similar to Snapchat, Instagram stories are short live-action videos that last for 24 hours. This provides another way to create and share stories on this image-focused social media channel. What are some ways you can utilize Instagram stories to tell your business story?

  • Have employees introduce a new product or service launch
  • Share customer stories
  • Share inspiring stories and events within your industry

 

14. Geo-targeting Most people focus on the posts while marketing on Instagram, but the location can also play a big role. Instagram, like other social media channels, uses geo-targeting (targeting specific services based on your location).  Like hashtags, you can use your location to gain more exposure.

An example of this is tagging an older location after you move to a new location. You can are share pictures from your first move into that location. You can share pictures moving out. You can then combine pictures, using Flipagram,  from your entire journey, into a slideshow that showcases your business’ evolution and values.

15. Carousel & Stories ads Instagram has another way to show ads besides static ads. You can use multiple images in a slideshow (Carousel ads) or a video form of a story (Story ads). These are other ways to increase the exposure of your stories using the power of Instagram’s advertising network.

Have a story that you’re ready to share about business? This article just showed 15 ways for you to do that one 3 channels. There are plenty of ways to share. If you are looking for more strategies and tips, feel free to watch the replay of “How to Tell Stories on Social Media”  with Jed Record.

Feel free to share if you have any particularly good strategies.

Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), via Wikimedia Commons

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Almost-graduated turned freelance marketing/tech writer, future web developer, social justice advocate, and Millennial on a mission but still confused about the path

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Almost-graduated turned freelance marketing/tech writer, future web developer, social justice advocate, and Millennial on a mission but still confused about the path

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