The key to successful storytelling on social media can feel elusive. There are so many variables; how do you know if you’re heading in the right direction? 

“What is ‘storytelling’ anyway?” you ask with dramatic air quotes. Not to worry. This is your definitive guide to telling authentic, interesting brand stories that will take your channel from barely surviving to totally thriving.

Rules of Social Media Engagement

Social Media Is A Party— Don’t Be Weird 

Imagine you’re at a friend’s dinner party and you only know a few of the people there. You strike up a conversation with someone like-minded and you have a great rapport right away. You’re telling engaging stories that they’re actively listening to. Then they tell their stories, and it’s your turn to listen and engage. By the end of the night, you have a new friend! 

If you’d been talking about yourself the whole night, and shoving business cards in people’s faces in a desperate attempt at networking, this wouldn’t go over well. Acting fake, or not giving the other person a chance to talk, doesn’t win you the integral social connection you need.

Social Media engagement isn’t so different. If you’re not telling captivating digital stories, if you’re overtly trying to sell a product instead of an idea, or you’re inconsistent with brand messaging, no one is going to want to play with you. Or follow you. Or engage with you or your brand. 

Storytelling is imperative to making meaningful connections both on and offline. For major #inspo, let’s take a look at who is nailing the whole innovative social media storytelling bit:

Three Branding Stories That Almost Broke the Internet

Nike’s Inclusive Social Media Strategy

Nike’s Inclusive Social Media Strategy - Storytelling On Social Media

Just do it? Uh, they did it. Nike has been advocating for inclusiveness since their 2017 Equality campaign, which sported the tagline “The ball should bounce the same for everyone.” Two years later, they are still on-brand and consistent with their message as they celebrate the Women’s World Cup. 

Their social media video, initially shared on Twitter, is a black and white compilation of amazing moments from the US team’s incredible victory. This flawless piece of social media storytelling ends with the tagline “This team wins. Everyone wins.” The video got 20.5 million views. Your brand can tap into important cultural milestones as well. 

Why Nike’s Social Media Marketing Works

Consistency. If you send the same message over and over again, people will start to believe you. Social media consistency is the key to crafting success on every platform.

Selling an idea. Nowhere in this ad does it say “buy our shoes they’ll make you go fast.” They are telling the audience equality is cool, and if you’re down with equality, you stand with us.

Knowing your audience. Nike knows who it wants to appeal to— progressive, woke consumers who feel moved and empowered by the soccer team’s win. Knowing your audience can take your brand from zero to hero in terms of engagements and brand reach.

Lululemon Slays At User Generated Content 

Lululemon Slays At User Generated Content for Social Media Storytelling

Is User Generated Content effective? Ask Lululemon. The yoga giants have leveraged the storytelling video-meets-hashtag power of Instagram, and we can all learn from it. 

Lululemon uploaded a branded video of a woman doing yoga in different scenarios, with the hashtag #justmymat. Their engaged users took it from there, uploading their own videos and hashtagging it #justmymat. The result? The audience feels a part of the brand. They feel a sense of community with the other followers. And that builds brand loyalty. 

Why Lululemon’s User Generated Content works

They chose the right platform. This might not have been as successful on Facebook or Twitter. Instagram has a whole wellness community that was just waiting for a challenge like this one to appear. Instagram social media videos are also under 60 seconds long, which makes people want to watch them, and make their own to show off their best Warrior Three.

Microtargeting. Lululemon has a very specific demographic nailed down. They knew that this video would encourage their niche to engage on social media. Meet your audience where they are— in this case, the wonderful world of Insta-yogis. 

Warby Parker Struck Gold On Social With Pro-Branding

Warby Parker Struck Gold On Social With Pro-Branding - Social Media Storytelling

The “too cool for school” glasses brand is now a household name, and that is largely thanks to their top notch, innovative storytelling on social media. The company was founded on the idea that glasses are just too darn expensive and should be more accessible. Boom, there’s a core value. Your brand’s core values serve as a North Star when navigating the social media waters. 

Warby Parker is for everyone, it’s an equalizer. Social media is for everyone, it’s an equalizer. Warby Parker mirrors its product (trendy glasses) with its use of technology (trendy use of Boomerang, for instance). They mirror their attitude (cool and funny) with their use of copy (cool and funny). The story they are telling says, you don’t have to be rich to be cool, you just have to be you. And making people feel like special, unique, rad individuals just works.

Why Warby Parker’s Value Branding Works For Social

Core Values. Warby knows who he is and what he’s about, and that’s #onpoint no matter what your marketing budget might be.

Cross-platform Consistency. Across all social media platforms, Warby Parker maintains the same general aesthetic and voice. Consistency on social media builds trust. Trust builds loyalty.

What to Take Away From These Next Level Social Media Campaigns

How to Use Storytelling For Epic Social Media Success

These campaigns all have something in common: they respect the dinner party rules, and they understand the elements of digital storytelling. 

People want a character to follow. In Nike’s case, that was rooting for a soccer team/women/underdogs. For Lululemon, it was the user themselves and the community they built. For Warby Parker, it’s the coolest kid from art school that thought expensive glasses were for the one-percent. In each scenario, there is an arc, there is an emotion, there is a journey to follow.

Find your brand’s core values. Find your North Star. When you know what your brand is about, then you can tell the story. Who is the character in the story that the audience needs to fall in love with? What do you want your audience to feel, to think, to be motivated to do? 

Know your audience. Read the room. If you know who you are talking to specifically, you’ll know how to talk to them.

Learn from these social media storytelling examples. They can help you find your brand identity and tell amazing stories that will elevate your brand and ensure loyalty. 

When you know yourself, your audience, and your goals, you must trust your storytelling instincts and capitalize on them to increase your social media engagements.

What’s your brand story, and how are you going to reach your ideal audience on social media