Social Media Storytelling: How It Works

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Nicole Garrison

Published: Dec 7, 2021

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Did you know that 57.6% of the world’s population uses social media? This is why marketers have developed so many social media marketing tools and strategies that help them boost their success. From influencer marketing to user-generated content, it all works wonders for brands looking to raise awareness and attract more customers. And, social media storytelling is one of the strongest weapons marketers, small businesses, brands, and influencers are using to make that crucial connection.

Social media storytelling should thus be one of the key elements of your social media marketing strategy, especially on a powerful platform such as Instagram. It can help you reach a number of goals, including raising brand awareness, developing strong bonds with the target audience, and increasing sales. However, you need to know how storytelling works and what are the best strategies for applying it.

This article breaks down social media storytelling, teaches you about how it works, and how to use it for your business. Here’s how to do it right!

What’s The Power Of Social Media Storytelling?

Before we dig deep into applying social media storytelling for your marketing efforts, we should first take a closer look at what storytelling is and why it’s so powerful.

So, what exactly is social media storytelling?

Social media storytelling is a marketing tool that is based on the following principles:

  • Telling stories that revolve around the brand and its typical target customers
  • Evoking emotions in the customers
  • Portraying the brand as more than just a brand
  • Giving the brand a personality and voice
  • Inspiring people to become a customer
  • Giving your brand a purpose and sharing its vision

Social media is powerful because it makes a brand stand out from the rest and gives it a deeper meaning. It helps you show what your brand is really about and what’s the story behind your products, service, and relationship with your customers.

So, the power of social media storytelling is in the following:

  • It evokes emotions
  • It gives the brand a voice
  • It makes the brand more real and relatable

Now, let’s take a look at what are the best strategies for using social media storytelling wisely and successfully. 

Top Strategies For Social Media Storytelling You Can Use

1. Reflect Your Audience

The first step in setting up a successful storytelling campaign is knowing and engaging your audience. And, it means more than focusing on their age, sex, or location.

To really know your audience, you have to make sure you understand their:

  • Problems and pain points
  • Interests
  • Real-life issues and dynamics

If you know this, you’ll be able to tell stories that reflect their lives and that they can relate to. For instance, Dove is a brand known for great storytelling. Here’s what makes it great:

  • They portray “real” people
  • They address relatable problems
  • They give their customers a voice
dove social media storytelling

This way, their target audience is the main character of their stories, which makes them more impactful.

2. Evoke Emotions

According to Forbes, a story needs to “share your truth, speak to your life hurdles, and create relatability and rapport between you and your audience.”

A story needs to make an impact on the person reading it. It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic like life-changing emotional roller-coasters, but it needs to mean something.

So, decide on the type of emotion you want to evoke. Do you want to make them feel melancholic, excited, motivated, empowered? It should agree with your brand personality.

Here’s a great example from Airbnb.

airbnb instagram post to evoke emotion

Airbnb is a brand that relies heavily on storytelling. For each of the rentals they’re showing on their Instagram account, they design a mini-story that helps potential guests imagine what it would be like staying there. In the example above, they set up an image of warm evenings with stargazing and s’mores. It makes the reader feel nostalgic, sentimental, or even romantic. It certainly makes them want to stay at this beautiful cabin.

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3. Inspire People

The next big thing you want to do with your social media storytelling is to inspire people. Giving people hope, motivation, and strength to make a change or dare to do something is huge. So, try making your stories inspiring.

Here’s how:

  • Put a relatable person in the middle of the story
  • Write about their courage, strength, success
  • Invite others to be the same and follow their footsteps
  • Make your brand the other focal point of the story

This is exactly what Nike has been doing for years. In the example below, they emphasize the importance of family and working hard for those we love the most. If that doesn’t inspire you, we don’t know what will! 

Still, make sure all your social media stories are proofread and written in a style your target audience will easily comprehend. Find the best proofreading services to check your stories before you publish them. 

Nike storytelling for inspiration

4. Cross-Promote

Social media storytelling can be used to cross-promote your other marketing platforms and content. It can help you show your social media audience a whole new side of you and inspire them to get more involved with your brand.

You can use social media storytelling to cross-promote a:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Portfolio
  • Different social media platform account

For instance, Square is a financial services and digital payments company that uses storytelling to get more customers on board and interested in reading their blog. Here’s a story they recently shared on Instagram.

Square cross-promotion on instagram

They’re inviting people to read the rest of the story through the link in bio, which takes them directly to their blog. There, they continue with even stronger storytelling, that engages people and makes them see the brand as a part of their everyday life.

5. Raise Social Awareness

People care about their communities, environment, mental health, and so many other similar topics. Brands can use this attachment to get closer to their audience and build stronger bonds.

That means that brands should create stories that raise social awareness. They should take a stand and invite their followers and customers to join them. 

Always is one of the brands that try to make a difference through their #StopPeriodPoverty campaign. They share stories about girls from all over the globe who deserve support.

instagram storytelling raising social awareness

By doing so, Always is achieving several goals:

  • Showing they’re socially conscious
  • Showing their empathy and engagement in the global community
  • Making people look at them as more than just another feminine product brand
  • Inspiring people to become their customers

Important social issues make great stories to tell on Instagram. Use them to boost your storytelling efforts.

6. Have Strong Protagonists

Social media storytelling can be combined with other marketing tools and strategies. Influencer marketing can work wonders for your stories since 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations according to research.

To make influencer marketing works as a part of your storytelling strategies, you need:

  • A strong protagonist your audience can relate to
  • A genuine, real-life story
  • Portraying this person as a regular individual

This is what Under Armour likes to do with their storytelling strategy on Instagram. 

under armour storytelling with Bryce Harper

Here, they shared a story of Bryce Harper and his engagement in the Camden community and their youth baseball team. The story goes back to 2019 and in 2021 the boys wanted to share their gratitude back and support their favorite player.

Under Armour and their influencer partner touched many hearts with the story of how important it is to help those in need, but also never forget about the people who supported you. 

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7. Use Visuals

On social media, and especially on Instagram, the visual aspect of storytelling is crucial. It’s what makes people stop scrolling and focus on your post. If you grab their attention with visuals, you can get them to read your story and start looking at you differently.

This way, you can use social media storytelling to show off your product and make it more appealing to your followers. Plus, 54% of social browsers use social media to research products, so why not give them what they’re looking for?

Here’s what works best in social media stories:

  • Images portraying the typical target audience member
  • Portraits
  • Your product in a real-life setting

Once you add a story to support the visual, you’ll have the full package.

Ikea is known for using strong visuals to tell stories about their products and help you imagine having a piece of their furniture in your home.

Ikea using visuals for social media storytelling

You can do the same thing. Build a story around your product, back it up with stunning visuals, and share it on Instagram as a post or a series of stories. 

Final Thoughts

Social media storytelling is not a one-trick pony, but a complex marketing tool that allows you to be creative and set your goals higher and higher. Using this marketing method is efficient for achieving numerous goals for your brand or business.

Hopefully, the tips and explanations we shared above helped you realize the potential power of social media storytelling. If so, start working on your story today!

Author Bio

Nicole Garrison head shot

Nicole Garrison is a social media manager and a blogger. She works as a professional writer giving admission essay writing help. Nicole also writes about social media content creation and covers everything from finding the keywords to creating stunning visuals.

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