On October 16, 1869 workers digging in a field in Cardiff, New York unearthed a startling specimen; the petrified remains of a 10ft tall giant man. The owner of the land, George Hull, set a tent over the remains and charged visitors .25 cents to view it. Droves of people flocked to this tiny farm field in New York - so many in fact, that in just 2 days Hull was able to raise the cost of admittance to .50 cents. Visitors gazed in thoughtful silence at the twisted and contorted remains, they were transported in their imaginings to an ancient world where giants walked the planet. It did not take long, however, before archaeologists presented evidence that the giant was no more than a stone carving created by Mr. Hull, and stained with acid to give the appearance of age. Yet, despite the evidence, many people defended the validity of the giant, unwilling to believe that this beautiful story was not real.
We love stories.
Actors, movie studios, publishers, video game creators, and, yes, social media connections, are some of the most prevalent influencers in our lives because of their ability to move us. Those who tell stories well are rewarded commensurately. Those who can't tell an engaging narrative burn out quickly.
The greatest predictor of social media success is also the most challenging to master; it is the ability to tell a story well in very few words. A narrative must be intentionally developed and every post must become a building block that deepens and widens the story.
Those who succeed in social media, those who have the ability to influence the behavior of others, are master storytellers. They have learned how to graft powerful words together that pique emotion, stimulate a need, elicit a vision, and produce engagement.
Some of the best stories are being told on social media. And so are some of the worst. If your story is disjointed, perhaps you have not yet developed your narrative.
Consider in advance how every post fits into your story, and whether it is consistent with the narrative that you're intentional cultivating. Pique. Stimulate. Elicit. Engage.
We can outline effective social media strategy all day. However, even the most accomplished music theorists will fail if they try to sing without first having exercised their voice.
We must find our story and tell it well.
Joshua Leatherman is the author of If Social Media is a Game, These are the Rules: 10 Essential Rules for Building a Profitable Social Media Strategy