What is storytelling?

Storytelling is the act of telling or writing stories, and it is a magical Art! The practice of storytelling has been around for centuries and it’s one of the most captivating ways to engross an audience, and whilst embedding storytelling within your marketing strategy may sound a bit fluffy, it’s one of the most effective ways to build a brand.
Everyone enjoys a story, and anyone can tell one, and your storytelling prowess will only improve through practice. Listening to a story is one of the best ways to retain information – people remember stories more than they memorise facts, and stories have a huge influence on human biology, beliefs, and behaviour – an area of research that is continuously being explored.

Business storytelling

Stories help us to relate to and understand the world around us. They are memorable, evoke emotion, and influence their recipients. Therefore, savvy businesses use storytelling in their marketing to engage customers.

Social media storytelling

Traditionally, businesses told their stories through print and PR. Today, brands are using social media to do so, and there are multiple ways of doing so on social media that involve more than words.

How can storytelling on social media boost your business?

Incorporating storytelling into your marketing strategy and social media content plan has a multitude of benefits – it’s basically a sure way of absolutely winning at marketing!
What are the benefits of storytelling in marketing?
  • Humanise your brand – storytelling stimulates oxytocin and triggers empathy and relatability with a brand. By humanising your business, you’re strengthening and building relationships with potential customers who are real people – not numbers, nor robots. People buy from people.
  • Appeal to larger audiences – Everybody enjoys stories, and they will cultivate pleasant and positive customer experiences with your brand online. You will attract audiences who are fond of your business.
  • Build connection – connect with your leads and prospects through the medium of storytelling. If you can build connections and relationships with people, then you’ve won them over already and they are eventually much likelier to convert into loyal customers.
  • Establish brand loyalty and trust – the openness of storytelling constructs your business as genuine and authentic, which builds loyalty and trust with customers online. And once you have this, your customers will keep buying from you.
  • Be authentic as a brand – authenticity was a buzzword in 2020 amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is now demanded more than ever from a business. Consumers want to be respected and recognised as individual people, not cash cows, and they want to see brands doing good in the world rather than a CEO buying a yacht. Consumers care about a brand’s values and the causes they support.
  • People will remember your business – people remember stories well. Keep your business in people’s minds by leaving them with something to think about. Storytelling is a fantastic way to ensure someone retains information and is a fantastic learning tool. By telling stories your audience can resonate with, or stories that construct them to feel or think in a particular way, your business is going to be remembered –  and this builds your brand’s recognisability. The outcome? A well-known business that generates more sales.
  • Stimulate word of mouth marketing – people love telling, reading, and hearing stories and are forever passing them on. How many times have you recounted a story to convey a point of view or an idea?
  • Stand out –  the majority of markets are very saturated nowadays, and 2020 saw a record number of startups being launched. Therefore, standing out from the crowd is more crucial than ever – what makes you different? We all have individual stories, and no one is the same. Celebrate what makes you stand out from the crowd. What are your USPs, and why do they matter?
  • Demonstrate your business’ personality, voice and tone – you can use storytelling to show off your brand persona, and establish a recognisable brand voice. Think about your favourite brands – there is a reason they’re your favourites, right? What do they stand for, what is their personality, what are their stories? What do you love about them? Storytelling helps a business express who they are and what they stand for, which is ultimately what increases their presence as a brand.

Storytelling starters for businesses

If you have got something to say or show to your audience, you need to communicate this in an engaging way. You need to be able to capture their interest in the fleeting nano-seconds you have on social media to grab their attention.
Now we have proven why storytelling is such a great and powerful branding and marketing tactic, let us have a think about the types of stories you can tell your audience on social media to build a community around your business online.
  • What, how, and why – telling your audience what you do, how you do it, and, most importantly, why you do it, is a skillful way to connect audiences with your business and build relatability. You could break this down into a series of social media posts, so you have a multitude of varied and interesting content to share.
  • About you – humanise your business by showing the face behind the brand! People thrive on connection and there’s no better way to build connection, trust, and relationships other than authenticity and honesty. We are all interested in other people! Tell your online audience all about you. What makes you different? What are your views? Ensure you feature images of the people behind your business, including your own!
  • Your company values – don’t just tell your audience what you believe in, tell us why you believe in it, and what it means to you. So, if your business supports a certain charity, don’t just ask for a donation. Explain the story behind why you support this cause, why you believe in its importance. All businesses should have and be able to explain their mission statement.
  • Your business journey – by sharing your business challenges, hurdles, achievements, and milestones, you’re breaking down the barriers between corporation and customer. You’re acculturating your business to be more approachable and identifiable by giving your audience inside information and stories. As much as people like to see wins, and you should celebrate them, sharing the lesser happy moments with your online following is also important because it builds relatability and empathy – after all, nothing is great all the time in the world of business.
  • Your team member stories – share your employee’s stories with your audience, because after all, they help you keep the cogs turning and they deserve acknowledgment. By sharing content focused on your team members, your audience can get to know your business and its people better, which develops loyalty. It also construes audiences to see you as more of a community than a corporation.
  • What you’ve learnt along the way – give something back to your audience with tips, insights and advice, and detail the experiences that you’ve gone through to learn them.
  • Customer and client stories – don’t just share a testimonial, elaborate on your customer’s story. What were your client’s challenges and how did you help them overcome them? What were their goals, and what was important to them? You will be much better at converting more sales overall if you promote customer-led content – people follow people.

How to distribute and share your story on social media: social media storytelling for businesses

There’s no need to author a book (although go for it if you’d like) to share your stories with the world – you can use social media!

Such features you can leverage to tell stories on social media include;
  • IGTV
  • Reels
  • Stories
  • Posts
  • Captions – short and long-form
  • Microblogging (short blogs that you can use on captions)
  • Product descriptions
  • Visuals
  • Quote graphics
  • Infographics
  • Video
  • Carousels
  • GIFs
  • Instagram Guides
  • Long-form blogs
  • Your profile bio details
  • Tweets
You can use anything to tell a story, on social media as well as off – podcasts, radio, outdoor advertising, PR, and so on. You just need to start.

Social media storytelling tips

Because we’re really nice, here are some last takeaway tips before you go and wow the world.
  • Build a schedule – building and following a social media schedule is a wonderful way to organise and channel your ideas, and generate new ones. You can also use your schedule/calendar to monitor what does well in terms of engagement, so you know what to create more of in the future.
  • The content should all relate and align – each aspect of your content should be in alignment – for example, your image should relate to the caption, etc.
  • Focus on what is important to you at the moment – if you’re stuck with what to tell your audience, take 5 minutes to consider what is important to you today, at this very moment. Have you seen or read anything recently which inspired you? Have you visited anywhere of interest? What have you learnt this week? There is always something you can talk about which you can relate back to your business niche.
  • Take popular culture or events that resonate with you, and inject them with your own spin – e.g., Father’s Day – don’t just say happy Father’s Day, say why it’s important to you, why it matters to you! You can turn anything into your own mini story to amplify your content marketing strategy. What do you hope for the new year? Why is running your business more fun in Summer? Why is Mental Health Awareness Week important to your company? You get the gist.
  • Centre stories on a transformation – if you analyse stories, you’ll see that a lot of them follow a pattern of transformation. Think about and convey what have you learnt along the way. What is your market position today? What have you overcome? These are great aspects of successful, hero-led storytelling that people thoroughly enjoy and evoke emotion.