Storytelling marketing is using narrative to communicate a message to an audience. The message should make the viewer feel something that drives them to take action. It is considered an art form requiring creativity, insight, practice and skill. It is not an overnight practice or a simple tactic to use in your marketing strategy. It’s an ongoing process that develops your brand and makes you stick out from the crowd by connecting your audience to your brand on a deeper level. Think about an intriguing author, someone who writes stories that captivate you every time. They’ve mastered storytelling to get you hooked. This is what you want to aim for in your storytelling marketing; the same hooked reaction with your audience.
But first, why is storytelling important? As described by Jade Nguyen from SocialPilot, “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 communication, and that’s why it’s so powerful.” Storytelling evokes a certain psychological response from people, driving them to engage with your brand. This engagement is the key to successful marketing on social media. In this article we will explain how to grow your business’s brand by using storytelling marketing on each of the popular platforms.
Storytelling Marketing Elements
Storytelling marketing can appear in many forms of media, videos, images or written text. Using a combination of these mediums, brands can reach their audience on all levels. Today we’re going to look at storytelling specifically on social media and how to use storytelling marketing across each platform.
In any form of storytelling, whether you’re writing a Tweet or a novel, the elements remain the same:
- Characters – Who are the main people in your story? What is their purpose?
- Setting – Where does your story take place?
- Plot – What is happening in your story?
- Conflict – What are the challenges your characters face?
- Arc – What is your conclusion? How have the characters overcome their challenges?
Ask yourself these questions with every post or story you write.
Storytelling Marketing On Social Media
Instagram storytelling is all about imagery. Publish images and videos that illustrate your brand and convey stories you want to tell.
Posts on Instagram are large, square photo boxes, 360 x 360 pixels, with the option of writing text up to 2,200 characters. The text is placed at the bottom of the image and people have to click “more…” to be able to see your entire post. Your aim is to have a really captivating image that will make your audience want to read more, so you will have to be creative with your posts.
One thing you can try is to use multiple posts to make one large image on your profile. You can use any multiple of three to create these multiple post images. There are even apps like PhotoSplit that can break up a photo for you to post individually on Instagram.
Stories are also one of the most popular features on Instagram. They are short videos people can quickly scroll through. They’re located at the top of your feed, so they’re always the first thing people see when they open the app. Take advantage of all the added features you can use with stories like tagging people and adding music. If you have a verified account, you can also add a link to your website.
Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform out there, with over 2.8 billion active monthly users. It’s also the most popular place businesses are storytelling. The platform allows you to write posts up to 63,206 characters long. That’s enough to write a long, proper story, instead of a brief summary like on Twitter or Instagram. Use this opportunity to fill your story with captivating details, enticing readers to click on the “see more” button.
An excellent example of using Facebook to tell longer, intriguing stories is Dove’s DermaSeries account. Their products are designed as a skin care line for people with eczema. They brand it in a way that’s subtle, yet fashionable. Their posts are often customer success stories, telling people about their journey with eczema and how Dove’s DermaSeries helped them overcome it. This appeals to others with the same problem as they can easily relate to the person in the post; more likely than not, they are going to want to know more about the story and the product with the hope of gaining the same results.
As one of the largest social media platforms with over 192 million users, you’ll want to get involved with Twitter. This social media platform is popular for public figures, news and brands to post their stories. Twitter posts can only be up to 280 characters, so text will not be your main medium for storytelling. Instead, focus on using images and videos to attract attention to your posts. Use the text section to briefly summarize the media or add a few hashtags. A statistic you should note is according to Twitter’s analysis, videos attract 10 times more engagement than Tweets without video. So, consider video in your Twitter storytelling marketing strategy.
On Twitter, it’s a popular practice for brands to create their own, uniquely recognizable hashtag. One example is Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke hashtag. Coca-Cola uses this hashtag to brand themselves, hoping users catch on and use it too. This in turn spreads brand awareness for the business.
Another way to use Twitter for storytelling is to create a Tweet thread, a sequence of multiple posts that add up to a larger story. This is a way you can write longer text and convey more details.
LinkedIn is a popular platform for business professionals. It’s not as popular as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram but still has 260 million active monthly users. Its specific focus on business professionals makes it a niche platform for brands to engage with. Users on LinkedIn are often looking for solutions to their professional problems. Deliver high-quality content in your storytelling marketing that addresses your users’ issues, and you will receive positive engagement.
LinkedIn’s character limit is 300, so posts need to be short just like on Twitter. Convey your story using images, videos and by sharing links or articles. LinkedIn recently adopted the stories feature similar to Instagram. This feature is only accessible through the mobile app, but is worth considering as it’s gaining popularity each day.
Video is the most popular medium of marketing, so there’s no doubt it’s effective for your storytelling. In fact, 85% of internet users in the U.S. watch video content on at least a monthly basis. YouTube is a social media platform dedicated to video content alone. It is the spot many users go to for tutorial videos, music and news. On this platform you can tell users the story of your company or show them exclusive information like behind the scenes footage. It’s all about the customer, so try to focus on offering useful content like how-to videos and avoid too much promotional content. This will spark the most engagement from users. You can also redirect users to your other social media pages in the video description, creating more traffic on your other social media platforms.
Optimize Your Storytelling Marketing
Storytelling marketing on social media is a powerful method to attract business and spread brand awareness. Because of this you want to make sure your social media presence is optimized. Several things you can do to optimize your social media are:
- Use strong keywords – Keywords play a big role in your marketing strategy. You want to use keywords that people are searching for to find your business. Doing some research using tools like WordStream can help you find the best keywords to use in your social media marketing strategy.
- Optimize your profile – Your profile is what is going to inform users about what and who your business is. Many businesses create profiles, but don’t spend the extra time and effort to really make it the most informative place to learn about their business. Optimize your profile by including a clear profile photo, a concise description of your business, a username that’s easy to remember and reflects your business, and any other essential information you can add such as hours of operation, link to your website or contact information.
- Optimize your content – There are two types of content you can share: original created content and curated content (content you share that someone else creates). Using a combination of both types of content is the best solution for your social media. Optimize each post by using keywords, hashtags, tagging people or places, and using strong headlines. There are free tools like Coschedule Headline Analyzer that rate how strong your headlines are. Also remember to avoid blurry, poor quality images. By optimizing your content, people will find you easier on search engines and you’ll receive better engagement.
Now let’s look at some brands that have excellent examples of storytelling marketing:
Again, Dove shows up as a brand that demonstrates excellent storytelling marketing. They are an emotionally impactful example of storytelling. They made a huge impact with their Real Beauty campaign commercial where they showed the difference between how women perceive themselves and how others see them. They brought in several women to sit behind a curtain and describe their facial features to a sketch artist. After they were done, a partner they had met earlier would come in and describe them to the sketch artist as well. The pictures showed a drastic difference in how women see themselves versus how other people see them, the second proving to be much more gorgeous. The message that the audience is left with is “you are more beautiful than you think.” What’s amazing is the commercial didn’t even need to show Dove products, it was all about speaking to the audience and creating trust with the brand. The commercial resonated with so many adult and young adult women who often belittle their own beauty by telling them they are beautiful. This created a bond with this audience, making them more likely to remember them the next time they’re shopping for shampoo or body wash.
Luca + Danni
Another brand that uses storytelling to appeal to our emotional side is Luca + Danni, the jewelry and accessory brand. The brand aims to provide the perfect gift for a loved one. If you check out their Instagram page, they often tell stories about people’s relationships with the loved ones they’re gifting to. Here’s a post showing a mother hugging her son while wearing Luca + Danni’s jewelry products. In the description below, they give a short message about how amazing mothers have been this last year through the COVID-19 pandemic. The picture and caption tell a story of a short moment that many can relate to. Here the audience is adult children, reminding them of how wonderful their own mothers are and urging them to say thank you with a gift from Luca + Danni.
Charity Water is a non-profit organization based out of New York that focuses on bringing clean water to those who are living without. Their social media channels use storytelling to show how people’s lives have benefited from clean water. As seen in this Facebook post, a young girl is smiling while holding a clean glass of water. She looks healthy, happy and vibrant. The text talks about how many people they have impacted by helping them get access to clean water. Charity Water makes their audience appreciate their access to clean water and by showing success stories, people are encouraged to donate to keep the organization going.