When you think about it, social media marketing tends to get sort of a bad rap. It seems like all people talk about are selfies and the latest Twitter feud. Yet there’s so much more to it than that, and when you’re talking about potential for brands to make a mark, it’s off the charts. One way to ensure what you say on social media sticks is to use time-tested storytelling principles in every update.

No, this doesn’t mean you need to display your novel writing chops in your status updates. But it does mean you need to offer the big picture — or at least hints of it — so prospects and customers have context for what you’re offering. Remember: customers need to know what story they’re in before they’ll engage with you. And they need to be engaged before they buy!

Here are a few tips for telling better stories on social media:


Show Your Personality

Stilted or dry social posts aren’t going to cut it. You’re competing with brands that have this whole entertain/inform thing down, so you need to elevate your game. A shortcut for accomplishing this is to inject some of your personality into your posts. This gives customers a sense of the characters they’re rooting for. If you answer the question, “Who Are We?” with your overall strategy, you’re on the right track.

At the bare minimum, make sure your social accounts reflect an actual person. Using a logo for your Facebook Page is a no-no. Stick to a real live photo of a human and you’re already on your way toward better engaging with your audience.


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

According to Social Media Examiner, great marketers are great storytellers. And one of the most compelling ways to tell stories through your social channels is to use photos. The benefits of visual storytelling on social media has become more apparent as all of the major social networks transition into being more image-centric. Take the latest Twitter update as an example. Profile pages look more like Facebook than ever, with a ton of space now available for a header image.

It’s important to make your brand consistent across all the social networks and the imagery you use can help with that effort considerably. And I’m not just talking about showing off photos of your latest products, either. You can give customers an inside look at what it’s like to work for your company. You can offer up photos that are inspired by the kind of lifestyle your products create. Be inventive.


Add Context with Storify

Yes, it’s something else you’d need to sign up for but you might find it very worth the effort. Storify allows you to gather information and content from all over the web and various social networks, feature them in one place, then embed that collection anywhere you want online. You can turn your site’s homepage into a Storify shrine of the social conversations currently happening about your brand. It’s really pretty cool.

And it’s the perfect example of how social media lends itself to storytelling. In fact, if you’re not telling stories, through text, images, or community conversation, you’re doing it wrong.


Include Customers in Your Stories

Since social media thrives on interaction, it makes sense that customers need to be a part of your overall strategy. And though you’re busy telling stories about your brand, you need to leave some room for your customers’ stories, too. This helps to add more of that all-important thing called context and works to establish your brand as a place where your customers are welcome. When you show your personality, as mentioned above, you can’t help but provide a sense of comfort to those you engage with online. Make people feel as though their ideas, opinions, and comments are welcome, and you’ll receive them in droves.


Telling good stories doesn’t mean you’re writing a Jane Austen novel on your Twitter feed. Rather, it means you’re conveying a sense of company self; a brand identity, and leveraging that identity through how you interact. You can’t help but tell good stories when you’re, say it with me now: real, visual, contextual, and inclusive.

Brenda Barron

Contributor at Brandxten
Writer. Social Media Strategist. Contributor @Brandxten