Social media platforms are great vehicles for storytelling in your social media marketing. It helps you to stand out from other brands and competitors and grab the attention of new customers who are not part of your network – yet. But before you start, it would be good to build some structure. This is nothing new, because the Shakespeare’s, Walt Disney’s and J.K. Rowling’s of this world already used the same technique. Throughout history, cultures have been telling stories to engage and enlighten. So why not you?

“The power of storytelling is exactly this: to bridge the gaps where everything else has crumbled.” – Paulo Coelho

Storytelling establishes a rapport between the storyteller and the audience. Great stories always involve some hero who goes through a situation, meets obstacles and finds a resolution to their problem. There is even a well-known structure, known as the Freytag Pyramid, which describes the following steps: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. The next step will be for you to try to ‘visualize’ these steps as in a comic strip. The reader must be able to picture the situation in their mind and subsequently relate it to their own situation. Hence, the reason why using a great picture in a social media posting is so important.

When telling a story, it’s mandatory to align the story to the values of the audience you are addressing. A solution for all has less power than picturing a problem for part of your audience or a specially targeted group and finding a solution. Relating your story to a lifestyle situation is more important than pure product or service branding. Your story should really be customer value oriented giving your audience a clear reason to believe in the situation or even share it with others. The powerful reach of social media creates stories and allows them to start a life on their own. Personal experiences or situations in your own business life are great examples to share, as they carry a lot of true value.

This power of telling stories on social media will help your audience to feel more connected to your brand. In my own situation at Ovation Global DMC, the power of a global brand allows local stories to become global and global news to discover its local context. But don’t let the story steer you away from your unique value proposition. A compelling and cohesive story must allow you to bring out the unique value of your brand, your service or destination. So telling a story about your brand should focus on presenting a situation, identifying a possible hurdle on the road and offering a plausible solution. Especially if only your brand has a unique resolution to offer. By telling a story, social media allows you to document your solutions to a wide audience, way beyond your own community. Just make sure to make it visual, use great pictures or compelling drawings because a picture tells a thousand words. That way you will stand out from the crowd.

Do not forget that emotion is key to decision making. Whilst features, price, quality, warranty and reliability are important, people make decisions on the basis of look and feel, the esteem your product or service will bring, the safety and feel it will provide. Because stories create bonds between the storyteller and the audience, always remember the power of humor, which can add extra spice and gain more attention from your audience.

So, what makes a story compelling? Compelling stories engage us by making us care about the people in the story. They make us want to know what comes next—how the story ends, what happened to the hero. And a compelling story will ignite the imagination and elicit emotion in the audience. When your social media audience can picture themselves in your story, they start to picture your solution as the right one for their organization. Once you are more familiar with the story telling technique, you will be able to easily new and authentic content and inspiration for the next occasion.

Let me close with a quote from J.K. Rowling: “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”

Now tell me, what’s your story?

SITE Past President Hugo Slimbrouck is Director of Strategic Partnerships for Ovation Global DMC. A recognized expert and author on incentive travel and meetings, Hugo is a popular speaker at industry events around the world.