Story First, Social Second

These days, it’s not enough just to post content on social media; you have to curate that content. “Content curation” is the art of sharing quality content on a particular topic. If you do it right, you’ll build an audience of people who look to you for interesting, credible information.

So, how do you know what content is “shareable” and what isn’t? I go by a very simple rule: Story first, social second. Your content should always convey a story and a clear message. For instance, if you’re posting about a book launch, don’t focus on the event itself. Instead, focus on the value the book brings. Tell people why they should be interested in it.

Your content should always convey a story and a clear message.

Focus on what you do best. As a brand, you want to leave your audience overwhelmed, not underwhelmed. Let’s look at the basics of social media storytelling.

Provide value. Your social media posts are not for (directly) selling a product or service; they are for building your presence as a content curator. Provide helpful tips and offer useful, fun, and engaging information. For example, if you sell apparel, post about styling or accessorizing, not just what pieces you have on sale that week.

Forbes notes, “Your posts should be mixed with content that is not promotional, content that is strictly valuable.” Forbes categorizes valuable content as either helpful or interesting: “Helpful content is insightful, educational, and helpful for viewers. Interesting content isn’t necessarily helpful but it is entertaining or intriguing.”

Pique their interest. Valuable content is great and all, but if it’s boring, no one is going to read it (or more importantly, share it). How to Fascinate explains, “It’s easy to create boring content. (Many people do it quite effortlessly.) But if you don’t have a distinctive point of view, you’re just reporting.”

Coming up with fascinating content often presents a challenge for small business owners – but don’t be intimidated, and don’t overthink it. With a few simply prompts, you can get your creative juices flowing. Here are just a few of my favorites from How to Fascinate:

Add insight to your message (explain the deeper meaning)
Go on a rant (be passionate; make a fuss about a problem)
Ask a provocative question
Ask for opinions
Predict something that will (or should) happen
Share a behind-the-scenes look at yourself or your company (see below)

Be human. This is so important, and it’s something that many small businesses fail to do. As Convince and Convert writes, “Ultimately, social media is about people, not logos. Companies try to ‘humanize’ but people don’t try to ‘corporatize.’”

Bring human means branding yourself as the content curator. Post using your own name or profile. Write as “I” or “we” rather than in the third person. Share personal stories and challenges that relate to your business message and values.

Build anticipation. Pique your audience’s interest by hinting at what’s to come. Some brands employ this technique in every single one of their posts. Ever seen those provocative lines followed by a link that you just have to click on to get the rest of the story?

Another anticipation-building method is to tell a single story in parts. This is especially effective for product launches because you can drop hints in several posts to build excitement. Post little teasers about what’s to come and tell people to expect more information soon. Develop a memorable hashtag to make it easy for people to follow the story.

Ready to Tell Your Story?

Good content curation and storytelling are surefire ways to set yourself apart in the noisy world of social media. You’ll attract more customers, increase traffic, and ultimately promote yourself as a thought leader in your industry.

Whether you’ve already employed some of the storytelling methods here or you’re just starting out, I’d love to hear your results. Share your experiences in the comments!

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  • Author: Angie Dunnigan
  • About Me: Founder of aka Media Marketing, a full service Social Media Marketing Agency, Social Business Coach and Media Manager. Helping businesses connect with their target customer through our ever changing virtual world.