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Conceptual Introduction To Social Storytelling

Social strategy can feel overwhelming. My goal is to make it simple, obvious, and clear by building frameworks around it until we have clear language for what works and what doesn’t.

This is a 1 page overview of “social storytelling” as a high level concept. Towards the end it introduces a few ways to begin using social stories in your daily life to get you started.

My personal social storytelling game-plan for my own accounts is linked later in this post but it's relevant as soon as you want concrete examples, so I'll link it here too.

Learn how I've started telling stories that drive action & results:

Social Media Game Plan

What are Social Stories?

Notes On Social Storytelling & Effective Communication On Social Media

A social story is a way to connect with & influence people that consists of a setup, sharing of something relatable or something that happened, and an incentive. Like any story, a social story has three parts.

Stories work because all humans choose to act based on our inner desires and then we naturally we tell internal stories to inform and organize our actions - if you're hungry, you're going to build a story around what kind of food you want: "I could really go for Indian food"

But a well built story can work in the reverse - it can make you realize you're hungry for something you didn't know you needed because perhaps that story illustrates how something can resolve a problem you didn't know you had. Narratives are ways to build new problems, and compel people to resolve those problems socially, instead of by direct experience.

Stories are tools to compel action because they give your audience a good reason and a vehicle to place themselves in the narrative you designed for them, then draw their own conclusion about what that narrative should compel them to do.

Great stories build your ideas in other's heads as if they were their own.

A story gives someone a good reason to pay attention, and then delivers on that promise with: Value, inspiration, or desire, but not completely. The best stories leave something elegantly unresolved - like episode 8 of your favorite TV show in a 14-episode season. Stories, whether the kind you can relate to or the kind you learn from and are inspired by, can leverage unresolved narrative tension to drive action.

A story is simply a natural, relatable, human form of the AIDA framework, the marketing tool described as "attract, inform, desire, action."

Social storytelling is the art of learning how to create incentivized personal experiences for people watching you on a tiny glowing screen.

Stories are the most effective way for one human to express the kind of world they believe is worth building, and compel other people to build it with them. We've been using this simple tool with each other for thousands of years to help each other survive, grow, and thrive. Storytelling masters can change thousands or millions of lives by inspiring us toward mutually beneficial interests we share.

The Basic Parts of All Stories

"The best stories are always about people."

This is because stories about people naturally fall into a clear structure:

Beginning (the hook), Narrative (person, story), Ending/Moral (call to action)

Here's why you should listen, here's what happened, and here's why this story matters to you.

This is the framework that most effectively helps us imagine a world we might inhabit as humans, and drives deep feelings of relationship, desire, and urgency that can be used to drive action.

Attention, Value Delivery, and Incentive

To be effective, each of these three steps of your story must be informed by the post type!

Let's explore core social story types. These are the two forms most human experiences take - and you'll find them reflected throughout life. So it's not surprising every social platform has settled into ways to cater to each one.

Types of Social Stories