Image from Pixabay
The art and science of storytelling is a tale as old as time.
Gifted with the talent of verbal and written language, we humans have honed our storytelling techniques to perfection, spinning enchanting tales on a variety of physical and digital canvases.
With the advent of social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, storytelling seem to have taken a decidedly new twist. It now takes centrestage in our lives, with practically every waking moment spent on creating and consuming the stories of our lives.
While the pace and duration of stories have changed (think of the 30 second Instagram video or the 144 character Tweet), the key pillars of great stories have remained the same.
These foundational tips for telling a good story are crystallized in the 6 Cs of storytelling:
Sit back, relax, and follow me as we journey through these steps.
The phenomenal social media storyteller Gary Vaynerchuk once famously said the following:
“If content is king, then context is god.”
While you cannot deny the importance of a good plot in making your story come alive, understanding the context of your customers is critical in getting your story through their door.
To do so, consider the following factors.
This is so important, yet so often neglected. Like all other marketing strategies, social media storytelling only works if you have carefully studied the profiles of your customers.
Create a customer persona for your audience. Consider their demographics, psychographics, behaviours, needs, wants and desires.
Doing so makes it a lot easier for you to craft stories that can relevant to their needs.
What are the broader environmental factors surrounding your story? These may include the following:
Taken as a whole, these can vastly influence how your narrative is received.
While the best stories tend to be evergreen favourites that can withstand the passage of time, most of the stories which you’ve heard, read or viewed online are likely to be ephemeral in nature. Thus, it may be useful to consider the influence of popular culture and heritage/traditions on how it is perceived.
Given the short attention span of your easily distracted audiences, you’ll need to keep your stories punchy while considering the effects of recent events or seasons.
(Read this article to learn more about context in marketing.)
You can’t tell a story without characters that your audiences can relate to. And the most interesting characters in storytelling are often derived from various archetypes, like Carl Jung’s 12 common archetypes.
Let us look at some variations which you can consider.
These are the 12 archetypes universally used to describe multiple stories, brands and individuals around the world. See if you can identify any famous personality or brand which fits into each archetype:
If Jungian archetypes are too complex for you, consider the simpler fairy-tale model to build your characters.
Using metaphors that are commonly understood, they include the following characters in a story:
Finally, in developing your character, consider the elements of their personality as your plot unfurls:
How did you portray your story characters on social media? Are they interestingly rounded and dynamic? Or are they flat and unrelatable?
Courtesy of Pixabay
Conflict is the drama filled struggled within a character or between characters in a story.
If there is no conflict, there is no plot. If there is no plot, there is no story.
There are 4 main types of conflict which you may find in stories. Defining what these conflicts are from the onset helps you to craft a stronger plot.
In the best examples of storytelling, conflicts often come in several layers. A good example is Star Wars, which covers the following types of conflicts:
While your story may not be as elaborate as a space opera like Star Wars, it does help to consider at least 2 or 3 types of conflicts which your main hero would face in your story.
Any story worth its salt would have a climax. Often, this culminates in an epic showdown or battle between your protagonist and her main nemesis.
In a plot of a story, this would where the peak of the action occurs. Diagrammatically, it’ll be represented like this:
Also known as the turning point, the climax is usually the most nail-biting, chair-gripping, nerve-wracking part of the story. On social media, this could be the episode in a series of YouTube or Facebook videos where the action reaches its zenith.
Examples of climaxes in storytelling:
In the Facebook series BoBo’s 3 Wishes by BoBo Fish Ball, the climax came in Episode 5 of a 6 part video series. I’m not going to spoil the fun for you, but its well worth the 30 minutes or so for you to watch all the episodes.
Also known as the falling action or resolution stage in a story, closure comes from the series of events which helps you to stitch up all the loose ends of your story, and to bring the tale back to the start.
Deriving its roots from psycho-therapy, closure focuses on the need for us humans to find answers and resolve any nagging feelings we may have. In a story, it could come from mending broken relationships, healing hurts caused by emotional trauma, or restoring a kingdom back to its former glory.
Here are some examples of closure from popular culture:
On the flip side, the lack of closure in the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines MH370 three-and-a-half years after the incident occurred made the disaster a difficult one to swallow. Even though the search for the wreckage was called off, relatives and loved ones of passengers on the plane find it difficult to move on with their lives.
Finally, any good story should have a satisfying end to them. This should tie back to the message which you hope to communicate to your audience.
Also known as the dénouement (day-noo-mon), it is the part of the story where all plot points are solved. At this stage, the reader, listener or viewer of the story would have learned what the moral of the story is all about. Life for the characters involved would then reach a new normal.
What conclusions can you can derive from these stories (both fictitious and true?)
Now that we’ve come to the end of THIS story, I’d like you to ask yourself the following questions the next time you seek to craft a story:
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