Here’s the problem: When we tell stories we are only telling them from our perspective and they’re important to us because of how the outcome impacted us. When we tell stories in this way we’re limiting the impact the stories can have on our ideal audiences because we aren’t including what Marie Forleo calls with WIIFM factor (what’s in it for me?)
In order to tell a story effectively and convince our ideal audience that it DOES impact them in some way, we have to know the basics of a good story and how to apply that framework to the outcome we’re trying to explain.
So let’s start by breaking down the arc of a good story.
Most people think that a story operates in a straight line:
Beginning Middle End
What they don’t realize is that the emotion of a story – the thing that gets people interested enough to listen to the whole thing – makes the journey look more like an arc than a line
Beginning – Everything was fine until one day…. (The inciting incident)
Establishing a baseline or an origin story is fine for blog posts or shorter posts broken up over time, but if you’re focused on telling a story in a single social media post it’s important to start with the moment everything changed. This is called a “hook” that will draw people in and keep them reading. The longer the post the more captivating the hook must be.
- Okay – “I have a deal for today only on dry shampoo!”
- Good – “I had THREE people compliment my hair today. What I didn’t tell them is I’m heading to the pool later and haven’t even washed it!”
- Best – “I might never wash my hair again!”
Middle – And then we tried to accomplish our goal but… (Rising actions)
These are all steps that we take to get to the goal that raise the stakes for the climax of the story. We can look at the rising actions as an opportunity for individuals to invest in the outcome and deepen their emotional connection to the story.
- Okay – “If you have ever groaned at the thought of washing your hair AGAIN, you need this.”
- Good – “We all know that too much washing can strip our hair of the nutrients it needs to thrive.”
- Best – “If you’re like me and have back-to-back barbeques, pool dates, and ball games you’re going to love me what I’m about to share with you:”
Mid-Middle – …it all came down to this… (The Climax)
For the purpose of caption and blog writing, this is our WHY moment, the reason that everything matters. When we do this correctly the reader has an “ah-ha” moment that will make the next step a no-brainer.
- Okay – “I love using this product after running, hiking, and during our summer camping trips!”
- Good – “We also know that summer is filled with outdoor adventures that leave hair frizzy, damp, and flat.”
- Best – “Our dry shampoo not only cleans and freshens your scalp between summer pool parties and barbeques, but it’s also the only organic, non-aerosol dry shampoo that is trusted by celebrity hairstylist Jane Doe!”
End – Here’s what you should do about it (The Resolution/Call To Action)
In a traditional story this would be the “happily ever after” moment. In a social media post we need to give the readers and action – something to do with that emotion that we just caused them to feel.
- Okay – “Go to www.awesomeshampoo.com to get yours NOW!”
- Good – “Do your hair a favor and take advantage of an exclusive offer I’m sharing with my customers. Let me know if you’re interested in the comments below!”
- Best – “You may not be able to get an appointment with Jane Doe this summer, but if you’d like to meet me by the pool and give your hair the celebrity refresh it deserves, DM me!”
Telling stories in the digital world requires us as businesses to stop thinking about ourselves the hero, and to start positioning ourselves as the narrator. This leaves room for our ideal clients to put themselves in that hero role and see what’s possible if they allow us to show them the way.
This week I’d like to challenge you to write down THREE stories that get to the heart of why you started your business and talk about them on social media using this storytelling arc, complete with a call to action. Let me know how it goes by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Go get ‘em storyteller!