Being able to capture your audience’s attention long enough to push your brand is important for any marketing effort. This is when being a good storyteller becomes important. You can enhance your social media campaign using the storytelling structure presented in this article.
The importance of good storytelling for social media campaigns
There are a variety of reasons why good storytelling is essential for any social media campaign:
- Information processing: Good storytelling follows the same process the brain uses to present information. This lets the audience better absorb and understand ideas.
- Better retention: Strong storytellers create emotional connections that increase retention.
- Skepticism: An engaging narrative is able to surpass the initial hesitations about a brand.
- Leads to purchases: People often purchase products based on the stories around them. A good narrative can better convince them to pursue the action.
All of these reasons should get you to start honing your storytelling skills for your next social media campaign. One of the masters of storytelling in marketing is Nike:
And that is why we just do it…
Marketing story structure: Freytag’s Pyramid
Freytag’s Pyramid is one of the most common narrative structures for storytelling. The pyramid divides a story into five different parts:
- Exposition: Provide background information about the character and setting of the story.
- Rising action: These are the series of connected events that eventually lead to a story’s climax. The rising action is the most important part as it sets up the plot for the succeeding parts.
- Climax: The climax is the emotional high point of the story. This is where the characters make decisions that alter the narrative.
- Falling action: During the falling action, the story’s conflict starts to get resolved in accordance to the climax.
- Denouement: This shows the aftermath where the conflict is fully resolved, and the characters return to their normal state.
All these parts can be illustrated as a simple triangle diagram which you can use to plot the story.
Freytag’s Pyramid can be applied to any social media narrative, such as in this introductory video for Dropbox.
Dividing your narratives this way helps build up the emotional investment of your audience for a longer period.
Marketing story structure: Before-After-Bridge
The before-after-bridge format is a more direct way of pushing your brand to an audience. It has three different sections:
- Before: Describes the present situation, concern, or problem.
- After: Presents a more favorable future scenario where the problem is resolved.
- Bridge: Describes how the ‘After’ scenario was achieved.
This format is great for drawing audience interest in your brand by providing a definite answer and positive outcome for their concerns.
The Before-After-Bridge format works best with short content where you want to deliver the desired answer quickly. Cosmetics manufacturers like Maybelline often use this structure when presenting their products.
Marketing story structure: Dale Carnegie’s ‘Magic Formula’
The “Magic Formula” is another storytelling format that lets you directly push your brand quickly:
- Incident: Where you share a personal experience relevant to the topic.
- Action: you present the actions taken to solve the problem in your story.
- Benefit: you showcase the benefits of the action taken.
The format is an effective way to make your social media campaign more personalized by presenting a narrative that your audience can immediately connect to. This can be seen in Nike’s promotional video for Kyrie Irving.
When using this formula, resist the urge to provide too much backstory for your incident. Focus only on the most relevant details and provide additional ones only when needed. Your action should also be brief to make it easier for the audience to remember. When stating the benefits derived from the action, provide facts and figures to support the claims.
Marketing story structure: Dave Lieber’s ‘V formula’
Dave Lieber’s ‘V Formula’ is a good technique for quickly getting an emotional response from your audience:
- Introduce the character
- Bring the character to a low point
- Turn the situation around and close at a happy ending
The V Formula is structured in such a way that the audience empathizes with the character and rallies behind them as they go back up.
A big challenge with using the V Formula for your social media campaign is that it can feel manipulative to the audience. You need to make the character and situation leading to the low point believable. Be careful in pushing your brand as part of the reason the character overcame the situation.
You will find that this formula is often used by charities. They’ll introduce the ‘characters,’ show why they need charitable solutions, and then show what you can do to help, and the happiness it will bring.
Marketing story structure: Problem-Agitate-Solve
The problem-agitate-solve format is one of the most popular structures for copywriters. The format goes as follows:
- Introduce a problem
- Heighten the problem
- Present the solution
The format is similar to the Before-After-Bridge structure. Instead of presenting a more positive result, you highlight how the problem could get worse if not solved. Bruyere uses this format in this promotional video.
A different approach to the format is to ask about your audience’s problems in the opening. This puts a more direct focus on them and draws their attention. From there, identify the “dominant pain,” or the component of the problem that your audience is most concerned with. This is what you agitate and provide a solution to.
Marketing story structure: Simon Sinek’s golden circle
The golden circle is useful for presenting your brand’s story as part of your social media campaign. This structure flows as follows:
- Why: Explaining the purpose of your company beyond profit generation.
- How: Elaborating on how your company achieves the ‘why.’
- What: This presents the tangible actions the company takes to achieve its ‘why.’
The ‘why’ is the most important element, it is what the two other elements lead back to. This will define the value the brand will have in the eyes of the audience. YouTube itself gives a clear answer to the why of their brand in this video.
Making your story more relatable
One thing to remember with social media campaigns is that they are not about your products. They are about the people using your products. The characters in your stories need to reflect the audience that you are presenting to for them to better respond to the narrative.
This is particularly the case when you are promoting technical products on social media. Instead of presenting your product in terms of technical specifications, focus on its benefits as seen from the eyes of customers. Airbnb uses this approach often:
Your brand also needs to have its own characters in the story. Your employees will make great characters since they are the ones that directly engage customers. Feature them prominently in your social media campaign as the faces of the brand.
Don’t forget local storytelling
Another element that would make your social media stories relatable is its closeness to what the customer values. This is commonly associated with intangible concepts like beliefs, but it can also be more recognizable like the locales that they come from. By featuring these locales in your stories on social media, you create a greater sense of connection with your audience.
Tim Hortons has exceeded at local storytelling on many occasions. This series, in particular, did very well because any Canadian can picture this story happening at their local Tim Hortons:
Creating an immersive audience experience
Visual content is an effective way to attract attention and engagement on social media. Take full advantage of this content by:
- Showcasing the human aspect: Present your visual content in the context of human experiences. This lets your audience feel as if they are the ones experiencing the content.
- Customising content for each channel: Creating unique visual content for each of your social media channels adds a wide of variety of experiences for the audience.
- Testing your visual content: Presenting your visuals to a test audience helps get feedback to improve them prior to release.
Your copy should also help expand the experience that your visual content is presenting. Use the tone that would best fit the narrative you are telling. If it is about personal experiences, use a more informal tone to better reach out to your audience.
Using hashtags to tell your stories
Hashtags can also be useful tools for immersing your audience into your social media campaign’s story. Create a dedicated hashtag for your audience to better keep track of your stories. Followers can also use the hashtag to join the conversations around your story and share their opinion about it.
A more immersive application of hashtags is your audience using it to participate directly in your social media story. This is done in conjunction with getting them to come up with their own contribution to it.
to enter: retweet & reply to this tweet with a selfie of you & your Xbox pic.twitter.com/3IY6tnfngw
— David Carter (@iPodKingCarter) September 13, 2017
Use tools like Devumi’s Twitter Retweets Service to increase the reach of your call for story contributions. This service will help draw attention to your story, and cause people to put more investment into it’s worth.
Attract more customers with great storytelling
Great stories are at the core of every social media campaign. To effectively tell these to your audience, you have to:
- Use storytelling structure: Determine which of the many storytelling formats would best fit the message of your narrative.
- Make the story relatable: Create characters that your audience can identify with and place them in familiar situations.
- Let the audience be part of your story: Immerse them in the world you created using visual and textual tools. Encourage your audience to help you create more narratives sending their own ideas.
Follow these steps and you will be able to enthrall your audience with your tales and get them to follow you, make you a brand they pay attention to, and be lifelong customers.