5 Ways Social Media Is Storytelling, Just Like A Book

Social media has so many similarities to storytelling. Proper social media marketing may be compared to a book, with it’s genre, title, story line and chapters. Though, there shouldn’t be a real ending with social media, I think you are getting the idea.

Inside every good book, there are multiple characters and stories, all working together to make up the books entirety. I see a lot of connections with social media and thought it would be helpful to break these down into bite sized nuggets that you can digest and use within your social media strategy.

5 ways Social Media is Storytelling, similar to a book:

1) The Cover – We have all heard the phrase “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” I think we can all agree that the millions of dollars publishers spend on research, design, photo shoots and printing, this is something they know people do. The fact is, we all process information far more visually than we do through reading. Book covers and infographics are great examples of this fact.

You need to recognize that your profile images, Facebook fanpage graphics and other visual elements of your social media presence have just split seconds to be evaluated. The imaging, coupled with your bio and information together make up your cover. You need to consider your bio, Twitter image, backgrounds and other photos that are front facing to new connections. Are they representing what you want to portray? Are you providing a story in a picture that your target market can identify with quickly?

2) The Genre – Whether it be a popular romance novel by my friend C.K. Gray, or a thriller, every book has a focused genre it appeals to. Your social media marketing should have an intended focus as well. What is your messaging and intended market?

3) The Market – Trying to market Carrie’s romance novel to middle aged, male, construction workers may not be a good strategy. Pretty self explanatory isn’t it? You’d think so, unfortunately I see many social media marketers attempting to hit every genre and market imaginable without any focus or understanding of each.

Who is your market based on the genre your product, service or content is in? Answer that question and focus your content and community there.

4) The Subject – Along with genre you have subject matter. Just because it’s a sci-fi doesn’t mean it is going to be aliens from outer space. Within a genre there are specific subjects that are unique and interesting to the intended audience.

For us, our genre is clearly social media. Within that we incorporate coffee, humor and human personality as subjects that drive our content and offerings. These all combine into multiple stories within our social media efforts.

5) Stories – Through years of experience within the social media space, I have realized that stories connect with people. Sometimes these are analogies, blog posts, images or just ongoing sagas of someones real life. Stories help you relate to others, a specific idea and applications of various ideas. In fact, I am telling you a story right now. I am painting a picture through an analogy to help drive home a point.

Be sure that within your social media profile and accounts, you are telling stories that connect with your target audience. Ensure your genre, cover and subjects are inline with the messaging you want to get across and use those stories to build meaningful relationships by delivering value.

You know you have a good book when they come back and buy your next one. Keep them coming back for more!


16 thoughts on “5 Ways Social Media Is Storytelling, Just Like A Book

  1. Hmmm. You are indeed “painting a picture through an analogy to help drive home a point.” But I disagree that you’re telling a story. You’ve got personality, you’ve got an image, you’ve got a drive to connect with the reader. But you don’t have a plot.

    1. Tim, I think of it as a non fiction work–an ongoing autobiography of sorts. An autobiography tells the story of your life; it’s filled with experiences, people, and inspirations that contribute to your life’s perspective, lessons, knowledge, and wisdom. It reveals the authentic joys and despairs of your journey that has shaped who you are. You share your life through this work so as to connect with any who read it… that the reader might learn and be inspired to honor, change, or avoid the path their own life is forging.

      So it is with social media–it’s the autobiography of your brand or cause. In all the content you create and share, you are are painting the portrait of who you are as an organization through compelling language, captivating images, and the sub-stories of the people who make up your social community. All this in an effort to move people–to action (e.g. purchase a product, support a cause, click a link, share, etc. etc.).

      People will not be moved if they are not feeling connected with you. So go forth and tell your story well! :)

  2. Absolutely agree that the bio/photo is the “cover” to our social media persona. When I’m periodically doing some social media house-cleaning, it is generally those two things that prompt me to then review the timeline to see if it is time for a parting of the way…uh, and anybody with #followback in your bio, really what were you thinking ;)

    Wow, sucks to be a middle aged, male construction worker that likes romance novels. You never get those great Fabio targeted ads..haha.

  3. Robert! I’m so glad you included the legend of the candy cane in your graphic. My kids, Dragonslayer, and I read the legend of the candycane last night during our Advent festivities.

    On to serious social media topic: I love love love your analogy here. I think the “book” analogy holds true for many aspects of business and personal life, but I also think it relates to social media best. Those with a knack for social media engagement do this naturally, but I think you’re really on to something here, brother. You could create a free eBook as an incentive on one of your sites that expounds a little on this. Absolutely genius! I’m so lucky to know you. :-)

  4. Great post. Stories do indeed connect as you say. There’s a growing body of research on how stories drive emotion which is at the heart of human connection. More stories, more emotion, more engagement!

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