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Five Storytelling Secrets That Can Sell Your Social Media Campaign

In 1870, Thomas Adams was experimenting with the sap from a Chicle, a native tree found in South America, as an alternative to rubber. After experiencing countless failures, one day out of sheer frustration he popped a piece into his mouth. Interestingly, he liked it, and the result: Adams New York became the first mass-produced chewing gum in the world.

See how you got sucked into the story? If I had told you the same thing in bullet points, would you still care to read it? Highly doubtful. The power of storytelling is one that cannot be ignored, and no one knows that better than a social media manager.

To come up with a successful social media campaign, managers have to wear many hats. One is that of the data analyst and the other of a storyteller. But, with everyone looking for a story to connect, how can your campaign really stand out?

Storytelling might be an art, but it requires scientific execution. You cannot just put up random stories that have no connection to your brand—if it ain’t fitting, it ain’t selling. Luckily, there are some easy hacks on how you can use storytelling for your social media campaign.

Here are five storytelling secrets that can help you create compelling, relevant stories that enhance your social campaign.

1. Sell stories over your product

Many social campaign managers waste resources in coming up with the right sales pitch when they should be looking at crafting a relevant story. Most people do not like being sold products. Rather, they want a feeling of personal satisfaction when participating in your campaign.

For example, imagine that you run an online tea retail, which is looking to gain user trust. You start your social media campaign by pitching the cool products you have—the vast catalogs of premium tea from exquisite lands. Your customers, on the other hand, are trying to see if buying from you would be a ‘smart’ decision.

Let’s take another approach. Instead of pitching about the wonders of your products, tell your listeners how drinking your healthy tea will make them look fit and beautiful. Your customers will find the idea of looking beautiful highly satisfactory. The idea that peers will consider them smart for buying your product will encourage them to engage with your campaign.

Did you notice the difference between the two? In the first example, the story is about you and your products. In the second one, it’s about the customer. Create your story around the customer, use data monitoring to find out what triggers them to engage, and use those elements as the basis of your social media campaign.

2. Weave a story around your data

Expecting your data to do all the heavy lifting is futile. You have to weave a story around your data to establish its relevance. Random numbers won’t create any excitement for your audience.

Create context for your data by using a mix of storytelling and data visuals to create an engaging backdrop. Include charts, graphs, and other visual elements in your story to make your social media campaign more appealing. A visual representation of your data allows customers to retain your message for a longer period of time.

If you are looking to tell your story through charts, use Google Sheets. Select from a range of chart options that you can display on your social media posts. Some other popular data visualization tools are Plotly, Charts.js, Tableau, and many more.

Netflix used data storytelling to promote Narcos, a show that revolves around the notorious drug dealer, Pablo Escobar. To make the character look larger than life, Netflix kicked off a #Cokenomics campaign that featured data around the Colombian cartel’s cocaine business to portray its powerful presence.


Storytelling example in Netflix's Cokenomics social media campaign
Source: Netflix


3. Tell a story in which you are the underdog

A research study shows that when given the choice, consumers will favor an underdog brand over a well-established one. An epic tale of David and Goliath influences users to cheer for the brand that overcame a monster of an obstacle.

The beauty of this storytelling technique is whether you are a big or a small brand, anyone can use it as part of his or her social media marketing. But remember, the highlight has to be your ‘will’ and not the problem per se. Communicate to users your perseverance to deliver no matter the circumstance.

Under Armour, the performance apparel company, has perfected the underdog effect. Its entire social brand is directed at improving an athlete’s potential through passion, design, and continuous innovation.


4. Don’t get carried away with your stories

Marketing your social media campaign using storytelling is great, but don’t go overboard. Remember that when you are telling a brand story, it needs to have its head and foot soaked in data. You cannot exaggerate your claims—that might backfire in ways you cannot imagine.

Adding fluff is one of the more popular sins committed by social media managers. It’s like a dog roaming in circles trying to grab its tail—there is no point in it. Each element of your story should have a well-defined purpose. If it doesn’t have any, it doesn’t have to be in your story.

If you want your social media campaign to create a bigger impact, say more with less. Sharpen your language skills to heighten the drama without sliding into long episodes of melodrama. Speak in a tone that expects a particular action because isn’t that the whole point of your social media campaign?!

TOMS, the popular shoe company, uses storytelling at its finest. As part of its social media campaign, the brand tries to answer the most simple question a customer can have: What’s in it for me? Without any exaggeration or fluff, it provides a brilliant storytelling technique to show that every purchase has a larger purpose.


5. Talk about unexpected topics

A good brand story is one that keeps surprising customers from time to time. Publish topics that users might not have expected from you. Your social media campaign cannot be caged into just a couple of themes. If you want your campaign to be more robust, your storytelling should cover a wide spectrum.

For example, if you are a high-end fashion brand, much of your content topics will be related to fashion, which makes sense. But, because these story plots are predictable, they might seem uninteresting.

Apart from fashion, if you talk about health and fitness, relationships, or lifestyle, user engagement will be higher. These are hooks to grab user attention, and once you’re able to do that, take the customer’s focus back to your primary topic.

Dannijo, a jewelry brand, decided to broaden its horizon with its social branding. Apart from talking about necklaces, they extended their social media campaign to topics like sisterhood and charity. This has given a distinct personality to their social media channel.


Winding up

We know your stories and business are born out of passion, but they have to be seen through an objective light. If a storytelling technique is not helping you achieve your campaign objectives, change it, replace it, or trash it. The idea should be to keep monitoring how users react to your stories to glean a good idea of what’s working and what’s not.  

“No matter whatever the situation, never let your emotions overpower your intelligence.” – Anonymous

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