Any marketing campaign you can think of has storytelling at its heart. Some brands do it well and some brands are still figuring it out, but the difference is very clear. Brands that tell great stories through their campaigns do better, and the reason is simple—people remember stories, and if you’re telling terrific ones, people will remember you.

No matter what domain you’re in, whether it’s sportwear or online dating, you can use storytelling to great effect. The Adidas Impossible is Nothing campaign, and Hinge’s Dating Apocalypse are both great examples of storytelling. But what makes them so great?

They both follow the cardinal rule of storytelling. There’s a clear beginning, middle, and end. There’s conflict and resolution. There’s a moral or lesson to be learned. And this is what makes them so memorable.

Storytelling is a great way to connect with your audience and improve engagement. It lends personality to your brand. It shapes the way people view you, and helps them forge a connection with you. If you’re able to evoke emotional responses in your audience, you’ll soon have loyal customers who buy from you purely because they believe in what your stories stand for.

The rules don’t really change much on social media. You still need to tell powerful, well-crafted stories, but you need to adapt them to the platform you’re on. Luckily, we’re here to tell you how to do it.

What you should do to make great stories

1. Create an arc

While we’ve already established the basic components of a story—the beginning, middle, and end—you’ll face certain restrictions when you try to do them on social media. Length, for example, is a big one. You may not be able to tell your entire story through just one tweet, or a Facebook post, which is why it’s important to think of your story arc.

Every single post, blog, image, or video needs to have a story by itself, but you can also take your audience on a journey that lasts longer than a single post. If each bit of content that you’re putting out contributes in some way to the overall business story that you want to sell, you can hook people for the long term.

The Lionel Messi video we saw at the beginning of this post is just one part of a series of “Impossible is Nothing” videos that Adidas put out. First, come up with an overall theme, and then fit every one of your piece into your marketing strategy. That’d be a great start to your campaign.

2. Use visuals

You only have a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention, so using visuals when you tell a story on social media is extremely important. A great video, a beautiful image, or a compelling infographic, when coupled with a catchy title and a supplementary description, can go a long way in ensuring that you’re getting more attention than text-only posts. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so why wouldn’t you make the most of it?

If the cliche isn’t enough to convince you, don’t worry, there’s more. Research claims that using visuals is likely to increase readership by 80%, and increase attention span and recall by 82%. Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images. Posts with videos receive nearly 3 times more inbound links.

If you feel like you’re not equipped to create stunning visuals for your story, don’t worry. We’ve made a list of must-have tools for social media marketers, and you’ll find some that make creating these visuals very simple.

3. Make it meaningful

Finally, make your story meaningful to your audience. The most memorable stories are ones that appeal to your listeners, and if you’re going to incorporate storytelling as a marketing strategy, you’ll have to ensure you connect with your audience. Remember Hinge’s story on dating? They could have just focused on how they’re different from other dating apps, but that’s not what they did. They went a step further and talked about why it was necessary to be different in the first place. And that’s what makes that video so memorable. The fact that they show how online dating has become a game, how they cleverly incorporate common issues users face as rides at a theme park, and how they provide a way out of all that mess is what makes it such a successful campaign.

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Instead of just sharing information about a new product or a new line of business, think about how it impacts your audience. Focus your stories on issues that they have, and you’ll find that your audience is more invested in your posts now.

If you’re able to connect with your audience at an emotional level, they’re more likely to listen to you.

4. Involve your audience

Your audience is filled with living, breathing people, and they probably have some great stories to tell. So ask them! All you have to do is to post a prompt, give some context, and then choose the stories you want to showcase.

For example, if you were a fitness brand, you could use Women’s Day to ask your female followers to share stories of their road to fitness. Once you get enough responses, you can either make a collage of the best ones, or individually publish them so your audience can read through them.

This has the added benefit of making your audience feel like they belong to your brand. This will help you create a horde of loyal customers, and the more stories you invite, the more this list will keep growing.

5. Let your values show

While we’ve spoken at length about how you can create a good story, you should let your brand’s values reflect in the copy you create. It’s not necessarily like taking a side on a controversial issue (though you can do that, too), but more about telling your audience what you care about, and why they should as well.

Dove, for example, ran a video campaign to emphasize their tagline: “You’re more beautiful than you think.” They invited seven women and an FBI-trained forensic artist to draw them. The forensic artist drew two sketches of each woman, one based on their description and one based on the others’, and the resulting portraits proved that those women judged their own appearance more harshly than others.

This wasn’t a story designed to promote a specific product or an upcoming event. This was just a campaign that they ran to showcase their belief. The name Dove doesn’t even appear in the video, but it was still a huge success for the brand. The video was viewed over 6.5 million times in just 3 days on YouTube.

When it comes to storytelling, the basic concepts remain the same. There should be a beginning, a middle, and an end, and your audience should be able to connect with the story you’re telling. If you’re able to tell great stories on social media, there’s no doubt that you’ll soon see your engagement rates rise—and that spells great things for your brand’s future.

That’s it from us for today! If there’s anything we’ve missed, or if there’s anything you’d like to share with us, just leave a comment below, and we’ll be sure to get in touch with you.

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