Posted 08.11.2017 by Josh Krakauer

Storytelling on Social Media

The who, what, where, when, why of great social media storytelling.

Whether you’re a social media savvy marketer or someone who’s new to adopting social tools for your business, an engaging brand story will draw people in and get them to buy in to your mission. The question is – what does great social storytelling look like? And how do you get started?

Gabe Erickson of Flow Media joined Josh in conversation around storytelling on social media. Check out some of the highlights from our #SculptLive.

Why is storytelling important?

“Stories connect human beings… stories help explain the world and add meaning to our lives.”

Stories help guide people through the customer journey. Even if it’s a journey that takes them two years from brand recognition to finally making a purchase, the story that you share on social media will influence how the customer decides to finally convert. Stories help you connect to your customer throughout many touch points in their lives— not just a single sale along the way. As Gabe says:

“It’s not that sales and analytics don’t matter, but what you focus on is what you get. When you focus on sales, you get a sale. But what you don’t know is if you got a customer for life.”

See more about Gabe’s thoughts on why you should focus on the long game more than a single sale in his recent post: “It’s not about sales! You’re in a war!”

How has storytelling changed in the social media era?

Facebook has done a lot recently that have been big wins for storytellers, including the save for later feature, auto-running videos with captions, and changing the algorithm to optimize longer stories.

Of course, while the medium has evolved, the mindset of a great storyteller has stayed the same. Whether you’re shooting with a cell phone or a camera, a great content creator always asks, ‘what is the story’?

What are the elements of an amazing story on social?

Regardless if you’re creating content for your brand or for yourself, there are some key things that every story needs.

Stories have characters, development of the characters, and an overall plot. There’s a hero, there’s a villain, and there’s a guide. The best, most epic stories have all of these elements. You want your customer to be a hero, and your brand to be their guide.

“Stories don’t sell anything but morals and values.”

If you can instill your brand’s morals and values in the stories that you’re telling, they will come to expect that from your brand. They will trust your brand and be more likely to become and advocate of your brand as a result.

Who is storytelling on social media well?


In the hero’s journey, you get a knight that has to slay a dragon. 

In this YETI video, the brothers are the heroes, the guide is the dad, and the villain is the “reality” of what’s possible. Even though people watching might not be able to relate to being told that they’ll never be able to surf professionally, everyone has been told at some point that you can’t do something that you dream about doing.

In terms of the brand story, Yeti is the guide. The hero is the person watching. 

YETI’s product placements are so subtle you don’t even notice it. From a brand perspective, they are saying that their customers are people who want to take on the world and be adventurous.

All of their content upfront is stories, and then below the fold is their product. 

Yeti gives you something of value as a consumer before they ask for you to buy their product. They are setting customers up for a life-long advocacy for the brand by showing them that they can be the hero while using their brand.

Cedar Rapids Police Department (Flow Media)

“We made the community member the hero. We made it as if brand is the guide speaking to the hero at that time when they needed the message.”

In this scenario, Flow Media was able to capture the story of the community as a whole, while being told through the lens of the brand guide. There’s not another video for police departments like this and viewers responded well to it organically with over 38,000 views.

The most innovative thing you can do, is be yourself.

The story element really sets you as a brand apart from other people in your industry. The biggest advice that Gabe had to share was to be yourself, work with whatever gear you can, and commit to your decision to tell an authentic story.

How will your brand tell its story on social media? Dig into the full episode of #SculptLive for more ideas and advice:

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Josh Krakauer

Josh Krakauer is the CEO of Sculpt, that B2B social media agency you just discovered. Josh has launched social media campaigns for best-selling books, publicly-traded corporations, and early-stage startups. Josh works from Washington, DC, but still thinks Iowa City is the best city on earth.

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