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Feb 27, 2018

Approx. 4 min. read

Cookies, Carrots and Call-to-Actions: Modern Storytelling in Social Media

How to step out of the traditional storytelling format and modernize the methodology to fit your social media strategy?

How to step out of the traditional storytelling format and modernize the methodology to fit your social media strategy?

Storytelling in social media is about taking a piece and giving it a form and a meaning, reshaping it to fit a function. This doesn’t mean taking everything you write and giving it a classical narrative form within one post. Social media enables you to choose the stories which build your brand story and posting them at strategic intervals to create a narrative within the chosen social media platform.
Related: Storytelling Best Practices

Follow these five steps to a better social media storytelling strategy:

1. Build Your Buyer’s Journey in Story Form

You can view a buyer’s journey through the lens of a traditional storytelling format. One method of executing a social media ad narrative could be sequencing the stages of your story in accordance with the buyer’s journey. From this perspective, the “awareness” stage equals the setup, consideration stage equals the confrontation part and the decision stage equals the resolution section of a story. In practice, the first sequence can be about introducing your brand and the second sequence can follow-up with discussing your brand and the problems it solves. The last sequence wraps up the narrative by offering the solution - your brand.

A funnel-based storytelling is a method in which the company creates messages for each section of the buyer’s journey - a method which can kick your conversion rate by 49%. In funnel-based storytelling, the story begins with an introduction to your brand and educating your audience about your input to the industry and your method of solving a problem your audience is facing. The next phase is introducing the offer of your brand and in the last phase, you are closing the deal with an enticing call-to-action, encouraging your audience to utilize your solution. Another storytelling approach for social media is called "priming-and-reminding", and it consists of utilizing different ads to first prime potential audiences with suitable brand stories and after this, "reminding" them of the stories by using display advertising.

2. Use Real-Time Ads to Tap into Current Narratives

Building a story doesn’t have to begin and end with your brand. Instead, you can tap into a forming narrative, even be a part of creating one. Real-time ads allow you to tap into a current story forming around your community. For inspiration, look no longer than the real-time-ad genius Oreo and take a look at their post from the beginning of 2018 (the tweet on the left). They wrote a post tapping into CES blackout, a phenomenon which became infamous when an event about the latest electronic technologies ended up, ironically, suffering from a blackout. While out of their industry scope, Oreo stepped in midst tech-talk to offer cookies, while reminding followers of their hilarious post during the Super Bowl power cut in 2013 (that tweet would be the right one, then). In doing this, Oreo is continuing the story they have started as being oddly, but hilariously, the go-to-cookie of power cuts.

Oreo Cookie tweets in 2013 and in 2018

By staying on top of what’s happening, you are able to write your own chapter into stories that are under formation.

3. Show Character Growth

One key item good stories have in common is change and growth of character. Embrace the idea of character growth in your brand communication. Social media is a fantastic forum for building up a narrative enabling character build-up. Many companies publicly rejoice in their internal promotions or extension to new market areas - this shows character development. Moving forward is essential, but development also requires looking back and learning from past mistakes - this is why companies shouldn't be afraid to admit they have made mistakes or taken wrong turns in the past. When Supercell said they applaud each failure with popping a champagne because failures are such fantastic teachers and thus essential for success, they build their story around a discourse of hardworking underdogs. Rising to success was the only way to go, and character growth was the only means to obtain that success.

4. Choose Stories Which Add Brand Value

Not all of your social media content needs to take the form of a story. There is no need to add a story element in all the material your brand publishes on social media. Instead, focus on the posts and pieces which add most to your brand value. Keep the story unified and make sure there are no knowledge gaps between internal people talking about your brand. It would be confusing for someone to follows your page to first see a post about the down-to-earth ways of your company (planting carrots with co-workers in the backyard) and then seeing a picture of your CEO being served champagne in the first class. Sure, companies consist of people and there are many sides of your company but not following the story created to add to brand value leads to disruption of the narrative and even in alienation from the brand.

5. Build the Narrative With Your Employees

Building micro-level stories to fit your social media strategies is the job of the marketing team, but building the macro-level story of your brand is everyone’s job. Not only is it good for every single person in your brand to understand your brand narrative, it makes sense to have all of them actively help build it. Your employees are the future of your brand and they are the people actively building your story to its next chapter. Make sure everyone working in the company is aware of, and on board with, the vision map for the future of the company. By encouraging your employees in becoming advocates for their company on social media, the story you are telling becomes more human, more engaging and more interesting.

Social Media Starter Kit for Professionals | Smarp

Written by

Mia Mäkipää

Mia Mäkipää

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