Previously on our blog, we established the importance of content in encouraging your audience to engage with your brand. One of the most successful ways to retain reader interest is by beginning with a story or anecdote. While it’s important to support your content or argument with substantiated evidence, such as statistical information, graphs and reports, it is equally important to engage with your audience on a personal level. In order to do this, you have to establish a connection with them in an empathetic, relatable manner.
This is where storytelling comes in handy. You might think that an anecdote or two is completely irrelevant, however, sharing a story can helps plant ideas and stimulate the brain. Once your story has paved an emotional pathway, it’s easier for the mind to process information and for your audience to adopt your concept. Data may help you understand a concept, but it is through story telling that we actually experience it.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when telling stories on social.
Simple stories are successful stories
Just because it is a story, it doesn’t mean it needs to be overly complex or intricately detailed. Keeping it simple makes it easier for people to remember in the long run, and also makes it easier for them to share with others. The trick here is to focus on the emotional aspect of a story rather than trying to create an elaborate and intricate situation.
Nemo Chu of Kissmetrics came up with a story of being cut off in rush hour traffic by a driver who is at the wheel with both hands over their eyes. It’s a scenario that anyone can relate to and immediately evokes a sympathetic frustration. It is not an overly complicated scene, but helps to convey the idea that trying to grow your business, without keeping track of your analytics, is like driving with both hands over your eyes.
Make use of established stories
The world is filled with stories that many people are familiar with. Don’t be afraid to mention movies, novels or other pop culture references. These are particularly effective as they have already established a certain mood or concept with people.
Catherine Caine at Cash and Joy uses the timeless classic, Cinderella, to help explain why you should play to the best of your abilities when marketing. She focuses on the two step-sisters, who tried to force their feet into Cinderella’s slippers and suffered for it.
"We also forget that the big prizes go to the first one through the palace gates. Even if the slipper fits you perfectly… there’s only one prince, and Cinderella’s already nabbed him. You might get a slightly warty baron, but that’s all.” Catherine Caine, Cash and Joy
When we forget these two things, we get blinded. And we hurt ourselves, and allow others to shape us to fit someone else’s path to success.
Tell relatable stories
Even though it’s a story, it doesn’t have to be a complete work of fiction. Use experiences and settings that other people can relate to, or elements from your own personal experiences. For example, Cory Eridon of Hubspot uses the dating experience to help explain inbound marketing:
"You don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date. People get kind of freaked out when you do that. You get to know each other first, then introduce the friends, then the family, and then, once you know the whole package looks good, you put a ring on it.” Cory Eridon, Hubspot
But if you’re doing something like slapping ‘Contact Us’ as the only call to action on every page of your site, that’s essentially what you’re doing — asking your leads to get too serious, too soon. Why would they commit to someone they just met? Play it cool, man. Let them get to know you first.
This doesn’t mean you have to begin every article or presentation with an anecdote or contrived story. Verbal and text based stories are only two of the most basic mediums you can use to convey your information. Visual storytelling is beginning to become more popular as a way of connecting across social media platforms and campaigns. These sorts of stories not only create a personal connection but enhance the idea of storytelling by providing a visual stimuli and presenting a context into which a person may project themselves.
Woorank suggests that our decreasing attention spans call for stories to be told in more immediate, concrete ways than words. Videos, ‘vines,’ infographics and images are all mediums you can use to tell a story. The increasing popularity of image based platforms such as Instagram are testament to this, and so when considering how to present your content, it wouldn’t go amiss to start designing content for such outlets.