3 Storytelling Techniques to Improve Your Social Media Engagement

By Rhonda Bradley / 14 May 2018

Discover 3 successful approaches to storytelling that don’t require professional writers or big budgets.

Storytelling is well-known for its ability to engage audiences and raise brand awareness on social media. It’s a powerful way to connect with your audience.

Thankfully, compelling stories are often short, simple, and easy on the budget.

In this article, we show you 3 simple ways to use storytelling to increase brand awareness and engagement across social media. You’ll learn how to:

  • Inspire fans to share their stories
  • Tell other people’s stories
  • Make other people the hero of your story

1. Inspire Fans to Share Their Stories

One of the best ways to increase engagement on social media is to motivate your audience to open up about their life experiences.

Nike has been doing this for years with great success.

For example, Nike’s “Equality” campaign encourages people to “take the fairness and respect they see in sport and translate them off the field.”

With a website as its home base, Nike’s campaign encourages fans to share their stories by uploading a photo and responding to the question “How Does Sport Empower Women?”

Nike Equality ad

Each person’s answer becomes part of a mosaic that readers can browse and explore.

Nike Equality mosaic

Nike expanded on the campaign about a year later with a hashtag campaign – #UntilWeAllWin – in support of National Women’s Day.

It took only 30 seconds and less than 23 words for professional tennis player Serena Williams to tell a story that struck a chord with women across the globe.

“I’ve never been the right kind of woman," said Serena Williams in the Nike ad. "Oversized and overconfident. Too mean if I don’t smile. Too black for my tennis whites. Too motivated for motherhood. But I prove it. Time and time again. There’s no wrong way to be a woman.”

#UntilWeAllWin was an instant hit with social media fans. Women around the world showed their support by sharing, commenting, and telling their stories.

Serena Williams ad social media reaction

Pairing emotional stories with a cause, like Nike does, is an effective storytelling technique.

How to Use Emotional Storytelling to Promote Your Business

  1. Begin with audience research. Learn which type of content is relatable and engaging for your followers.
  2. Choose a theme or cause that ties to your mission or goals.
  3. Brainstorm with your team to develop ideas, and create a plan for sharing your content.
  4. Strike an emotional chord to increase engagement from your social media fans.
  5. Encourage user-generated content to expand your reach.
  6. Tie user-generated stories to your brand in a way that makes sense and creates memories.

2. Tell Other People’s Stories

Every person has an extraordinary story. By engaging in conversation and listening closely, you can uncover compelling stories worth publishing.

Seek out stories that can be tied to your business by choosing a theme. Work toward clear goals that include increasing brand awareness or inspiring social media engagement.

In 2010, Brandon Stanton went on a mission to take pictures of 10,000 New Yorkers. Along the way, he began to interview his subjects and include a quotation or short story with the portraits he posted on Facebook.

He called his project “Humans of New York,” and it would go on to become a viral sensation.

Less than ten years later, Stanton is known as one of today’s most influential storytellers. His business has expanded to 13 countries. His photos appear in Vogue magazine, and his two books are best-sellers on Amazon.

Looking through the vast library of Brandon Stanton’s work reveals a clear storytelling format:

  • His stories feature direct quotations from interviews – usually around 200 words long.
  • He rarely adds personal comments or introductions, so there is nothing to distract from the person’s story.
  • All stories are posted alongside a simple, yet striking photo of the subject.

The Facebook post below shows an example of how Stanton formats his social media posts.

Humans of New York example

Humans of New York stories aren’t limited to people’s challenges and struggles. The brand is also well-known for uplifting stories of hope, romance, and humor.

Humans of New York example 2

Today, Humans of New York continues sharing photos and stories across Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. The business has expanded to 13 countries and presents stories from refugees, wounded warriors, and pediatric cancer patients, alongside everyday New Yorkers.

How to Use Other People’s Stories to Promote Your Business

Before you begin interviewing, decide how you’ll tie the content to your brand. Here are a few ideas:

  • Uncover the difficulty or struggles that lead customers to your product.
  • Find out how your product or service makes a difference in their day-to-day lives.
  • Seek out the humor or romance that may arise as the person interacts with your product, service, or brand.

3. Make Other People the Heroes of Your Story

Create content that’s relatable and engaging – taking the spotlight off yourself and casting it on the people around you.

Lyft, a ride service, is one company that does this consistently. They publish a series that recognizes Lyft drivers who’ve displayed acts of “outstanding kindness or service to their community.”

Lyft Facebook example 1

In the Facebook post above, Lyft thanks a driver for rescuing a passenger during a mass shooting.

Another way Lyft creates heroes is by putting a spin on ordinary situations that relate to their service.

In the example below, they added a twist to the generic “don’t drink and drive” message.

Lyft drinking and driving Facebook post

They “celebrate the late-night heroes who give – and take – responsible rides home.”

How to Make Other People the Hero of Your Story

Framing brand messages or company updates to create heroes out of everyday people is one way to show your audience that your brand cares about the community and can relate to its customers.

Look to the people around you and find ways to shine a spotlight on their accomplishments and acts of kindness.

The Most Engaging Stories Are the Ones We Tell About Other People

The examples of storytelling on social media reveal a common theme – the most engaging stories are not our own. 

When brands shine a spotlight on other people, they create a human connection that their audience enjoys reading about.

Good storytelling can be a simple way to skyrocket your brand’s awareness and engagement across social media. Look for creative ways to tie other people’s stories to your business.

owner

Related Articles