Social Stories: How to Use Storytelling on Twitter

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Gini Dietrich Chief Executive Officer, Arment Dietrich, Inc.

Posted on June 18th 2013

Social Stories: How to Use Storytelling on Twitter

Twitter stories Humans love stories, so when you use the basic elements of narration on Twitter, it’s to your social marketing advantage.

Do you know how to tell your brand’s story on that social network?

Are you engaging your audience, even in 140 characters or less?

The limitations of Twitter are no excuse for not putting storytelling to work, especially when you consider the ways others are turning it into a powerful tool.

With that in mind, here is a look at ways to use storytelling on the real/time, 24/7 social network.

Literally—To Tell a Story

Using Twitter to tell a long, detailed story might not seem like an obvious application, but take a look at Storify or at the hashtag #afternoonTwitterTale to see it in action.

Author Clinton Yates coined the hashtag, which signals a tweet-by-tweet narrative that gets posted during one afternoon.

Yates’s social stories have included “Why I Love Baseball” and “A Junkie Named Raymond,” among others.

How You Might Use Storytelling Literally

Even if you don’t start posting afternoon Twitter stories, here’s something to take away from Yates’s example: No tweet is an island.

Instead of looking at tweets only as individual, self-contained updates, look at them as parts of a greater, larger whole.

When you can’t share a full story in one tweet, consider spreading the story across a few back-to-back tweets instead.

Creatively—To Tell a Story in a New Way

In Amanda Cosco’s article at Social Times, she argues, “If we’re the social media generation, it’s not that we’re losing the opportunity for story, it’s that we’re telling our stories differently.”

Stories today are about new things: Specific industries or businesses, or even social media itself. Stories spread in new ways and are less packaged and more constant. You’re always telling your story on social media, more and more with every tweet.

What Creative Storytelling Looks Like on Twitter

Personal branding is, at its essence, a form of storytelling. With every update and link, you are telling the social stories of you and your brand. You are showing your followers who you are and what you find interesting. For this reason, the best social media engagement involves thought. Consider what you want to communicate, and what you want to be identified with.

Consistently—As a Way to Reinforce Your Message

Whether you’re the mattress king or the mortgage lender home buyers trust, Twitter is a great place to reinforce your message.

You have advertising, you have email marketing, you have a blog — and with Twitter, you have another powerful tool for telling your followers, again, why they can count on you.

Keys to Reinforcing Your Message

On social media as in any marketing effort, consistency is key. Determine your voice and tone, and stick to them. By fulfilling the expectations you’ve set, you not only reinforce your message, but also build credibility.

Personally—To Let Your Audience Get to Know You

Here’s the most popular way to use Twitter to tell a story: Sharing personal details from your life. Even when you blog for business, you’re still writing for people, and people like to hear personal stories. If you’re the face of your brand, be a memorable face. Share what you’re doing, what intrigues you, what you’re learning, and so on.

A Warning about Personal Details

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know there’s a line when it comes to sharing personal information online.

So here’s a word of caution: Stick to information you’re comfortable with the entire world knowing, and look for ways to make it relevant to your overall message.

Do you engage in some form of storytelling online, either intentionally or unintentionally? What do you like or dislike about brands that use Twitter to share their stories? What do you wish you would see? 

ginidietrich

Gini Dietrich

Chief Executive Officer, Arment Dietrich, Inc.

Gini Dietrich is the founder and chief executive officer of Arment Dietrich, Inc., a firm that uses non-traditional marketing in a digital world. The author of Spin Sucks, the 2010 Readers Choice Blog of the Year, a Top 42 Content Marketing Blog from Junta42, a top 10 social media blog from Social Media Examiner, and an AdAge Power 150 blog, Gini has delivered numerous keynotes, panel discussions, coaching sessions, and workshops across North America on the subject of using online technology in communication, marketing, sales, and HR. One of the top rated communication professionals on the social networks, Gini was recently named the number one PR person, according to Klout and TechCrunch, on the channels, and number one on Twitter, according to TweetLevel. She also can be found writing at Crain's Chicago Business, AllBusiness, and Franchise Times.
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