Creating connection on social media with real-life stories

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘content is king’ bandied about in the marketing world. But content can be anything ­- good, bad, exciting, bland or stupefying. Being successful on social media is not just a case of putting a succession of ‘content’ out into the digital world.

What we must aspire to is not content but story. Stories are what make us human. When we tell or listen to stories we connect to another human on a deep level and it is that connection that is gold in the digital marketing world.

Social Media Examiner delves deeply into the concept of story in marketing in this article

I particularly like how this piece talks about story as a person’s superpower and points out that the brain is hardwired to constantly search for stories.

As a self-professed story teller and someone who always gravitates to real-life examples – whether it’s a full feature about a writer I’m interested in or a review about a product I’m keen to try – I’m going to concentrate on the case study as a way to deliver a story online.  Real-life case studies that look into the experiences of a particular person or company (via a spokesperson).


So, which factors make an inspiring real-life story?

  • The person has an obstacle which they overcame.
  • The person makes a very human mistake with which we identify
  • Feelings are revealed which resonate with us
  • The person has reached unprecedented highs.
  • We are told enough to make us care about this person so that when they triumph we feel good.

The writing style
Aim for a friendly engaging and flowing style and let the subject do much of the talking by using direct quotes. Quotes lend authenticity that third-person text can’t easily replicate.  Think magazine-style and try to keep the story as personal as possible. As mentioned in this Social Media Explorer article, good writing is as important now as it has ever been.  

The headline
Try to encapsulate the story in the headline in a few scroll-stopping words that scream ‘read me’.
For example, I may build an upcoming post around the headline “How the New Zealand Fire Service used AR to engage a nation…”  Casey Hibbard, known as the Success Story Specialist, says that a proportion of readers will merely skim your story so your headline should incorporate the main idea or information you are trying to impart.

The pictures
Supplement the written word with engaging pictures. I find portrait pictures that clearly show the face particularly engaging. Looking at a picture of a person’s face allows us a window into who that person really is, endearing us to them and creating empathy.  If we like the look of them we want to find out more about them, to know their story, or even to do business with them. The portrait that I’ve used at the start of this story is of 97-year-old painter Shirley Collinson and it creates a strong response within me. I see the character, the twinkle in the eye, and I want to read this lady’s story. This picture shows the value of commissioning a photographer, in this case Sheryl Burson – the photograph features in her current issue of West – a celebration of the creative.


IN MY NEXT FEW BLOG POSTS I will concentrate on creating engaging case studies showcasing the real-life experiences of harnessing social media in New Zealand. So is anyone intrigued about how the NZ fire service are nailing what was introduced at Social Media Club Auckland’s latest event as the ‘fourth transformation’ in our digital age – VR and AR technology?


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