How can your organization employ social storytelling to engage attendees? Here are some strategies to consider:
Components of a story. A well-told story is not a “data dump” of facts or ideas that leave audience members to their own devices to interpret the outcome or message. Stories all have a beginning, middle and end, so your social stories should follow this same model.
- The beginning should introduce the characters or principals, set the scene and lay out the conflict, challenge or issue to be addressed.
- Next, the middle of your story should address the conflict. How does this conflict affect your characters? What impact does it have on the principals in your story? Don’t neglect to focus on the emotions associated with this impact. Readers are drawn to and identify with emotion.
- Finally, at the end or the denouement, address how the conflict is resolved. Be clear about the outcome, positive or negative, or the lesson learned.
Sample Post II: Met with leaders on #homelessness: #kids most affected part of the population. #wheretostart #sleeplessnight #change4good #2016Conference
Sample Post III: #2016Conference will host a #charity #funwalk to benefit local #homeless #kids in #Cityname #justdoit #dosomethingextra #motivation
Guidelines to keep in mind:
- Time well spent. The most interesting and engaging part of your story should take place in the middle, not in the beginning or the end. The middle of your story is where you should place the most emphasis to evoke emotion and to draw your reader into the story. Shakespeare often placed the decisive action or emotional apogee at a play’s midpoint in Act III: the raging storm in King Lear, or Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy.
- Define your characters. In order for your story to be compelling, limit your story participants to one or two players. Social media posts are usually short and to the point. Your stories should be too. Involving too many characters may confuse or disinterest your audience.
Your characters should be dynamic and easily identifiable, and convey who they are through their actions, not through their more obvious descriptive traits. Develop characters with your target audience in mind and draw on characteristics and sentiments with which attendees will identify and empathize.
- Make it compelling. Much like theatrical productions, which are often presented in different acts, social stories can be told in a series of posts. To retain the reader’s attention, however, your story, must continue to be compelling throughout. Employ language that evokes meaning and emotion and address why your event offers the solutions that your attendees are seeking.
- Follow to the finish. Establish enough context in each post so that new readers can still follow along, even if they didn’t read your initial post. Your closing sentence should clearly demonstrate the value proposition or takeaways that your event delivers to attendees.
- Does it mesh? Is your story cohesive? A trick that I use in editing is to read my prose backwards, from the end to the beginning. Not only should your story flow smoothly from the beginning, it should also make sense when read in reverse.
- Be creative. A story is not a facility contract or internal memorandum. While those are necessary instruments of business, most of us will agree that they do not always engage our interest, or more importantly, our emotions. Social storytelling is an opportunity to show your creative flair while maintaining a professional tone! — The End