Using social media to tell your story

Whether a brand uses visuals, videos or long-form blog posts to get its customers’ attention, it should aim to create an emotional response, kindle curiosity and follow a satisfying story arc. Stories are defined by a plot – there has to be a lesson or evolution of some kind. 

Visuals 

Imagery is incredibly important to take your customers on a visual journey (pictures telling 1,000 words and all that). Instagram now has around 800 million users and its success is down to its visual nature.

Strong images compel scrollers to stop, look and read the accompanying text. It’s rarely the other way round – visuals are key to getting customers’ attention. Humans are very receptive to visual information and it can be processed faster than text, so when we’re scrolling quickly, it’s the visuals that make an impression. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter – brands have less than six seconds to capture our interest.


Copy and caption

Your imagery is key, but your copy leads the trajectory of your brand story on social. Captioning visual posts provides a narrative for the image. A witty or pithy Instagram caption to accompany a strong image can have a big impact. 

Longer-form posts are great for exploring the provenance story and aims of a brand. Getting customers to engage with more time-consuming content isn’t easy and, chances are, people who are invested enough to read a blog post to the end had their interest piqued by shorter-form content.

  

User-generated stories and heroes

If your customers are really engaged with your brand they will generate content of their own accord using social. If you can get a branded hashtag off the ground, it’s a good way to corral the content being produced by your brand’s advocates. User-generated content can be curated by reposting and sharing the best content to enhance and push forward your brand story. 

The interactive nature of social means that you can invite users to become part of the story. A narrative device called a ‘monomyth’ (hero’s story) can be used to involve consumers. A monomyth calls for heroes to set out on a journey into the unknown. After conquering a trial or problem, they return with newfound knowledge to share with their community. Monomyths allow consumers to insert themselves into the story as the hero, provoking positive emotions of achievement and making them more likely to advocate and buy from a brand. 

Hashtags

Hashtags can be used to direct a brand story and encourage customers to interact, prompting them to generate user-generated content. Some brands have had huge success with a specific campaign-leading hashtag, for example #ShareaCoke and #LikeaGirl. These hashtags carry lots of meaning – sharing time with loved ones and empowering women respectively. 

Brands should take a look at the hashtags being used by their loyal customers and use these to pull together as much user-generated content collateral as possible. 

Go live

Video creates a connection with people especially live streaming, as it’s unedited and authentic, having a humanising effect. 

We are watching more and more short-form video and live streaming than ever. Instagram and Facebook stories were instantly popular – evidence of the power and appeal of  storytelling. 

Ten billion videos are watched on Snapchat stories each day. Snapchat gives brands the opportunity to create unique filters for their communities to use, encouraging them to become brand ambassadors.

Airbnb

An example of successful storytelling is this ‘wall and chain’ animation from Airbnb which evokes strong emotions about place and family. The story completes with the family relocated and reunited, and the caption ‘belong anywhere’. The animation isn’t about using Airbnb, it’s about freedom to travel and be with friends and family. This provides the human-centred emotional pull of a good story. 

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Airbnb’s Instagram and Facebook pages feature lots of user-generated content and imagery. They use fairly long captions to weave narratives and spark curiosity about destinations and experiences. Using so much user-generated content inspires trust as it serves as a reminder that people are using and enjoying the service. 

Whatever platforms are right for your brand, we can help you tell your story in a clear, concise and engaging way. We’d love to help so get in touch

Staff Writer