KickoffLabs Blog:

How to Become a Social Media Storyteller

By Josh Ledgard

Jul 26th, 2016


Once upon a time, there was a brand that wanted to stand out from every other competitor in the land.  

It wasn’t the richest brand, or even the most interesting brand, but it did have one thing that set it apart: it was a good storyteller.

And that, my friends, is the secret to winning at life (and dominating the game). It’s all about knowing how to tell a story.

You must be able to create a brand story that people connect with and care about. Here’s how: Click To Tweet

You don’t have to be the biggest or brightest brand. You don’t have to spend a ton of money or network with the right groups. You simply have to be able to create a story that people connect with and care about.

Think about it. All the brands that you love and support have compelled you through a story.

It was probably a very short story, but it was a story nonetheless.

To illustrate this, let’s do a quick exercise. What’s your favorite tv commercial and why?

I’ll go first. One of my all time favorites is Cheez-It’s “Interrupting Cheese”.

The story here is that the cheese, as evident from various hijinx, is immature and not ready for primetime. And the morale of the story is dead simple: Cheez-It uses mature, quality cheese.

Yup, it’s that simple, but it’s also an essential part of Cheez-It’s brand message. They conveyed the brand message so clearly in one 30 second story, that here I am remembering it six years later.

That’s the power of a good story… and that’s also why you can’t ignore storytelling when it comes to your own brand.

But how do you do that when you’re not Cheez-It, and you don’t have millions of dollars to spend on an ad campaign?

You head to social media, of course.

In this post, I’m sharing with you my top tips for how to take the power of storytelling to social media.

Here’s a look at 5 brands that use stories to inspire us on social media. Subscribe to receive this extra resource.

Why Social Media?

We live in a splendid age of advertising, and social media is a great equalizer. You can set up shop on Instagram and directly compete with great storytelling brands like Samsung, IKEA and Aldi.

marketing week

Image Courtesy of Marketing Week

Yes, your neighborhood grocery store is great at social media storytelling.

Here’s one of the reasons why: Aldi creates inventive video vignettes that primarily showcase its food brand. With a quick scroll through Aldi’s Facebook page, you know exactly what message the brand wants to convey: affordable, fresh, easy and accessible.

Aldi successfully does this through social media storytelling, and you can, too.


Image Courtesy of Aldi on Facebook

Unlike tv commercials, radio spots, billboards, magazine ads and the like, social media is free to join, free to post, and free to interact.

You don’t have to pay for entry on social media like you would with traditional advertising.

And while paid promotion will definitely get you in front of more eyeballs on social media, you’ll spend considerably less boosting your posts on Facebook than you would creating a traditional ad campaign offline.

Not only that, but when the time comes to target your audience, you can laser focus on a ridiculously niche demographic through the use of tools like Custom Audiences, for example. This way, you’ll connect with the right audience.

A relevant connection with a niche audience is more powerful than saturating the entire market with generic ads. You may not be able to outspend your competitors, but you can create a more compelling story, and you can use social media to do it.

So, let’s talk about how to do just that.

Let’s define “story”

A story doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out epic tale. A story doesn’t have to be a 300-page book or two-hour movie. It can be a short slice of life that conveys an important truth or message.

Whether your story comes in the form of a photograph, a gif, a video or even a podcast, you can use a brief moment in time to share an idea.

Humans love all kinds of stories, especially tragedy, triumph, comedy, adventure and rebirth. You can use these basic plots to craft a compelling story.

Many brands use the adventure plot in storytelling. For example, drive our car to your next adventure or eat this food and travel the world.

Comedy is also a popular plot. You can create a happy story that makes people feel good about themselves and your brand.

Unless you’re a charity, I’d probably stay away from tragedy, because that’s sad. Although it can be effective in raising money and awareness. Sarah McLauchlan’s SPCA commercial, anyone?


Image Courtesy of News Cult

Have a purpose for your story

What’s the compelling action behind each story?

Perhaps you want your audience to sign up for a webinar or subscribe to your email list.

Always have a reason for telling your story.

Create a hero

Every good story deserves a hero. And I have the perfect hero for your story:

Your customer.

You see, your customer is the one who has the problem. He or she is the reason for the story. Your brand is always the advisor, mentor, or even narrator, but never the star.

Solve the problem

Every good story has a problem. Your task is to identify a problem and create the spellbinding solution.

What problem does your hero, the customer, have?

  • Not sure what to eat for dinner?
  • Remodeling their kitchen?
  • Need help designing a website?
  • Needs a jolt of inspiration to start the day?
  • Always think of your story as a problem solver.

    Use emotion

    Emotion moves us.

    Whether it’s a video that makes us laugh:


    Image Courtesy of Make a Gif

    Or a photo that inspires us to get off our butts and do something:


    Capture your audience’s attention by massaging some type of emotion in your story.

    Jump on current hot topics

    What’s everyone talking about?

    Take advantage of the social aspect of social media and jump into the conversation.

    Find a hot topic that naturally relates to your brand.

    Buzzsumo is my favorite tool for tracking down top trends and hot topics. Use this tool to get a better insight into what’s currently happening in your industry.


    Image Courtesy of Buzzsumo

    Get your customers involved

    If you make your current customer the hero of your story (as we discussed earlier), you’ll be able to attract even more of that type of customer. Why? People are attracted to others who look like them, think like them, and struggle with the same problems.

    It’s social proof at its finest.

    Get your current customers involved with generating content for your social media.

    Lululemon is a great example to follow. They asked their customers to take a photo of themselves in action while wearing Lululemon attire and post it to social media with the hashtag #thesweatlife.

    Lululemon was able to populate its social media stream with short stories from real life customers. They got an advertising boost while also showing how actual customers were using their product.

    Over to You

    Who’s your favorite storyteller on social media? We want to know– tweet us @kickofflabs with your answer.

    Here’s a look at 5 brands that use stories to inspire us on social media. Subscribe to receive this extra resource.

    Create a powerful referral program today!

    Word of mouth marketing made easy with viral giveaways, referral programs, or product launches designed to grow your business!

    Get a Demo