“I was in primary school, and we had a school trip. You told me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go because you couldn’t afford it. I understood the situation, so I didn’t make a fuss, but you saw how much I wanted to go. I told my friends I wouldn’t be there. I woke up the morning of the trip started doing my housework as usual, and you walked up to me and said. “Go bathe, you going on the school trip” and you handed me the money. I don’t know what miracle you worked, but this is one of many memories that I will cherish and appreciate as long as I live. Happy Mother’s day Janice Corion, thanks for always being there.”
The above is a story I shared on my personal Facebook page on Mother days as a dedication to my mother. The response was overwhelming, and one of the reason was that it’s a story. People were able to connect with what I was saying on an emotional level. For the past few months, I have been researching how business can combine storytelling and Social Media to help them build their brand. One of the things I was obsessed with was finding a storytelling structure that brands can use to tell their story on social media and I came to a realization. That is, it doesn’t matter.
Instead of focussing on storytelling structures, I think businesses should focus on developing a culture of storytelling in their organizations. A good story must do two things; it needs to grab and maintain our attention and secondly must be relatable to transform into the world of the character.
There is no single right way to tell a story, but there are certain elements that stories should contain.
The Meyer Foundation did some research on strategic storytelling and identified five key elements of a compelling story.
1- An effective character– “Stories should contain a single, compelling character that is relatable to the audience and who is comfortable relaying specific details, memories, and experiences.”
2- Trajectory (Plot)– “Stories should chronicle something that happens—an experience, a journey, a transformation, a discovery—but they don’t need to be a linear, sequential recounting every time.”
3- Authenticity– “Stories should show—rather than tell—the audience about the character’s transformation, using rich details and featuring the character’s own voice, devoid of jargon.”
4- Action oriented emotions– “Stories should convey emotions that move people to act, and marry these with clear, easy-to-find pathways to get them to those desired actions” (Meyer 2015)
5- A Hook– “Stories should capture the audience’s attention as quickly as possible, giving them a sense of whose story it is and what’s at stake.”
The reason why I don’t think focussing on structures for social media is that important is that all the different social media platforms are different and have their unique ways to tell stories on them. When people are on Facebook, they are in a different state of mind than when they are on Twitter, and for that reason, our content and stories need to reflect that. My research into storytelling and Social Media continues, and I will keep sharing the updates, until then, stay frosty.