social media how toDo you want to use storytelling in your social media marketing?

Are you looking for inspiration?

Building your social media campaigns around stories helps you stand out from other brands, and grab the attention of consumers.

In this article you’ll discover five ways to use storytelling in your social media marketing.

5 ways to use storytelling in your social media marketing

Discover five ways to use storytelling in your social media marketing.

Listen to this article:

#1: Pay Attention to Story Structure

Freytag’s pyramid is a powerful storytelling framework used in a variety of creative works from Aesop’s Fables to Shakespeare’s plays.

This structure splits the story into five narrative arcs, evoking various emotional reactions from your audience. These arcs include the inciting moment, the complication or rising action, the climax (or turning point), the reversal or falling action and the moment of release.

In your storytelling you can follow the steps in Freytag’s pyramid or use them in parts, but the approach helps you make an emotional connection with your consumers.

shutterstock triangle 293254490

Use a proven structure to keep social media viewers engaged in your story. Image: Shutterstock.

In 2014 Jaguar launched a high-suspense campaign with David Beckham in China, targeting local social networks WeChat and Weibo. Before revealing Beckham as the brand ambassador, the campaign asked consumers to guess Mr. Jaguar’s identity.

Jaguar released street interviews and videos to build suspense. They also dropped hints throughout the campaign to get consumer traction. The exercise was highly successful and drew 50,000 reposts when it started. An additional 30,000 reposts came in after David Beckham was introduced as the ambassador.

#2: Sequence Your Ads to Create Stories

According to the recently published The Power of Storytelling from Facebook IQ, online storytelling on social media can have a direct impact on in-store purchases.

As an experiment, Refinery29 tested Facebook ads that were sequenced like stories. Overall, the experiment yielded a 56% conversion lift and an 87% rise in view-throughs. Refinery29 also saw a 7% increase in in-store purchases and a 10% increase in online purchases.

refinery29 ad study placeit

Use message sequencing in your ads to lead customers through a funnel. Image: Placeit.

Deliver sequenced Facebook ads that combine quality content with a strong call to create a social media-led storytelling campaign like this one.

#3: Align Your Story with Audience Values

A belief ecosystem allows you to move away from product-oriented branding to a more lifestyle or customer value-oriented branding. This is a natural fit for social media where businesses need to define a niche target group (the first believers), develop a brand communication strategy (giving consumers a simple and clear reason to believe) and create online and offline spaces for brand reach and to share stories.

This approach is effective because it allows you to sharpen your brand identity, creating strong competitive differentiation and higher price flexibility. This, in turn, has a direct impact on your bottom line.

In 2014 Daimler’s smart division launched a campaign for the FOR lifestyle brand. As Daimler explains, “‘FOR’ stands for a constructive, positive and optimistic outlook that can change the world.” The company set up a special portal to aggregate social content for the #WhatAreYouFOR campaign hashtag.

Another component was an offline campaign centered on pedestrian safety. A key element was the Dancing Traffic Light Manikin, which entertained and asked customers, “What are you for?” This approach helped solidify smart’s positioning as a consumer lifestyle choice: a green city car that cares about the world.

The customer experience was the central pull for smart’s campaign. This was in stark contrast to the pre-2013 online positioning of smart cars that talked more about product features than value. The FOR brand campaign also clearly differentiated smart cars from Daimler’s performance-oriented cars.

#4: Tell Local Stories

With powerful social media reach (1 in 7 people in the world are on Facebook) and democratization of the narrative, our online activities are propelling the shared economy to give us services that came from the computer and became real. Just like Uber or Airbnb, we’re in a world where stories don’t end with singular offline or online experiences, but instead merge and continue.

For brands, it’s important to recognize this and use the power of extension to help your audience feel more connected.

Many small businesses operate in geographic niches and don’t have the power of a McDonald’s or a Hugo Boss to create large marketing campaigns. But businesses of any size can create content around local events.

In the Facebook post below, a donut shop shares the story of a local organization’s fund-raising efforts.

guru local story facebook post

Create stories that appeal to local consumers.

People take pride in where they’re from and support local businesses on social media and in the real world. In addition, local customers are more likely to convert and impact your sales.

#5: Feature Your Unique Value Proposition

The McKinsey S-C-R (situation, complication, resolution) framework helps you develop a story that’s compelling and cohesive and brings out the unique value proposition of your brand.

Although it’s mainly for humor and fun, Blendtec’s Will It Blend series is a great example of the S-C-R structure. The video series has been instrumental in making the Blendtec brand a viral sensation and also has increased sales. This episode alone has garnered over 4.3 million views.

To use the S-C-R framework in your storytelling, begin by sharing the situation (current). Next, identify the complication in the market. And finally share the resolution that only your brand provides. And remember, a little humor can’t hurt either.


Social media and technology allow us to document our lives at an astounding pace. From two scrapbooked childhood photo albums to several gigabytes of photographic memories spread across Instagram and Facebook, we’ve come a long way. As consumers, we’re sharing and creating many new stories every day.

As a business, you may be wondering how you can stand out from the crowd. How do you create content that garners more visibility than the mommy blogger on Pinterest or the new kid viral sensation on YouTube?

There are tons of great examples of storytelling techniques that can inspire your next social media campaign. The keys to successful storytelling are to choose a coherent message for your audience, select the right platform as your central storytelling hub and be authentic.

What do you think? Do you use storytelling in your social media marketing? What social storytelling has inspired you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Handshake photo from Shutterstock.
Refinery29 sequenced ad image from Placeit.
how to use storytelling in your social media marketing

Tips for using storytelling in your social media marketing.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get Social Media Examiner’s Future Articles in Your Inbox!

Join 480,000+ of your peers! Get our latest articles delivered to your email inbox and get the FREE Social Media Marketing Industry Report (56 pages, 90 charts)!

More info...
  • Can I tell you something really interesting that is worth paying attention. A simple and excellent online opportunity to work for those people who want to utilise their free time so that they can make some extra money using their computers… I have been working on this for last two and half years and I am making 60-90 dollar/ hour … In the past week I have earned 13,70 dollars for almost 20 hours sitting ….

    Skills of any special kind, Degree or Specific qualification is not required for this, just keyboard typing and a good working and reliable internet connection ….

    Time Limits to start work is not required … You may do this work at any time when you willing to do it ….

    How I have been working on this?…..….see this [Iink] on my<code>__abENT__lt;code__abENT__gt;__abENT__lt;__abENT__#8260;code__abENT__gt;</code>!Profile!<code>__abENT__lt;code__abENT__gt;to know__abENT__lt;__abENT__#8260;code__abENT__gt;</code> more<code>__abENT__lt;code__abENT__gt;about this__abENT__lt;__abENT__#8260;code__abENT__gt;</code>


  • Adealingz Akhter

    Social Media Examiner Wondering if any brand ever created some fictitious story series ?

  • Upasna Kakroo

    Do you mean creating brand new fictional stories or fabricating things unethically? 🙂 Assuming you mean fictional stories, in which case the Twitter campaign by MadMen (the TV series) – setting up Twitter teasers and profiles of fictional characters on the show won best branding campaign awards for social media. I do believe other brands have also had ads on TV specially where they introduce fictional characters in short stories for instance Allstate’s Mayhem. These can naturally be extended on social as well. Another good example is Kate Spade which has had Anna Kendrick in a #missadventure video series. That’s really well produced as a video short story series.

  • l just got my second pay-check of 5395,75 by workin<code>__abENT__lt;code__abENT__gt;only few h on my Iaptop__abENT__lt;__abENT__#8260;code__abENT__gt;</code> past 5 days. l just got my second pay-check of 5395,75 by workin<code>__abENT__lt;code__abENT__gt;only few h on my Iaptop__abENT__lt;__abENT__#8260;code__abENT__gt;</code> past 5 days.My friend with 3 kids at home, made over $10k her 1st month. It’s great makin’ this much money” when other people have to work for so much Iess. Go 2 my profiIe’ site-link to see what I do…..dfgdfghj

  • Adealingz Akhter

    @upasnakakroo:disqus “fabricating things unethically?” I don’t think we digital marketers will actually do something like this. At least intentionally ! I mean lets say I run an online shoe store with my own brand name. And I plan any fictitious story in form of comics or 2D animations where I on and off showing my brand in different situations.

    I haven’t noticed both the examples you gave but I think the later one is close to what I want to experiment.
    NOTE:will surely Google it 🙂

  • Upasna Kakroo

    haha I am a digital marketer too, it was a joke 🙂 and yes have a look at that Kate Spade video series, it’s very engaging and has done well for the brand.

  • Ha Ha, people are sheep, if there is a good story surrounding a product they are attracted and its just like when you were to take your medicine as a kid, it always sounded better with a story wrapped around it….

  • Adealingz Akhter

    🙂 I checked it out. It is interesting The only difference is I am looking or planning something animated/comic/2D/3D. Thanks for sharing Kate Spade video series. Hope it will help me out.

  • Upasna Kakroo

    That’s such a great analogy Liz :-). But I intently believe stories make our lives better. There’s every reason to believe that Santa Claus makes childhood more glittery. Just as Seth Godin says, all marketers are storytellers! And I sure learned a lot of storytelling skills from childhood.

  • Upasna Kakroo

    Great! All the best 🙂

  • To me Upasna gave a deep analysis of social media.

  • Storytelling can make your business. It can be a big help to grow your followers, customers and subscribers. This way, it can also influence your reputation. People will connect with you and talk about you positively.

  • Upasna Kakroo

    thank you Stacy appreciate it!

  • Upasna Kakroo

    that’s true Hitesh! We all love stories and they help us communicate better 🙂

  • Jon P

    Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool, and has been since humans could communicate. But using it as a way to generate brand awareness or increase sales is a lot more complex than adopting Fretag’s Pyramid. If you haven’t first developed a brand position and messaging that resonates deeply with your key customers, then nice storytelling won’t do anything more than randomly entertain people.

    Almost always, engaging marketing stories are made by seasoned creative professionals, backed up by a lot of strategy and research. Jaguar and Allstate, mentioned by Upsana, are good examples. Tens or hundreds of $millions went into their marketing efforts.

    The home-made variety of storytelling such as Blendtec or Dollar Shave Club are fairly rare exceptions where there is a clear functional advantage in the product. Even then, a lot of things needed to come together for these videos to catch fire: Clever scripts, an appealing on-screen presence, and a deftly quirky production style. These things are accomplished by amateurs about as often as an unknown wins a gold medal at the Olympics.

    Hey, you might get lucky too. But at least give yourself a fighting chance by starting with a communication strategy based on understanding your ideal customer’s beliefs, fears and values. Once you’ve got that nailed, your brilliant storytelling may just help you move the needle.