How To Tell Fierce Fucking Social Media Stories
Daily Blog #58
You have a choice. You can tell engaging stories online, or you can let your brand die. There’s no option C.
I love content, and I love it for the stories. People all over the planet are telling engaging, exciting, challenging, inspiring, heart breaking, rage inducing, world changing stories every minute of every single day.
And every startup, every filmmaker, every creative, every artist, every writer, every VC fund — need to be doing the same thing. It comes down to what you want. Do you want people to remember, to listen to your message and carry it with them, or do you want to sit in the corner while the cool kids play?
Telling stories has never been easier. Which means that telling stories that stand out has never been harder. Look, I tell stories and I make content for a living, and for a life. It’s my passion. And even I struggle with it sometimes.
I am obsessed with this idea from Element7 Digital:
Say you’re about to finish work and you get a message from your spouse, asking you to purchase a good bottle of wine on your way home, as a close friend had invited you both for dinner at her place.
On the way, you pull into a liquor store and quickly dash towards the section where a neatly stacked assortment of wines from various countries, is displayed.
Soon you find yourself browsing through the finest red wines produced in France, Spain and Australia — but cannot decide on any, as every single one of them was equally good and touted similar stories of being made from the finest grapes and berries, along with their standard tasting notes.
Just then, next to these bottles, on the ‘new arrivals’ section, a label catches your eye, of an old lady with a handful of wild berries, dressed in rural attire, seems to be smiling her heart out — even though the prominent wrinkles that riddled her face, tells a different story of hardships and struggle…
You read further to learn the lady’s name is ‘Maya Tsering’ and she is 71 years old. She hails from a Gurung village, situated in the remote hills of Nepal, and is one of the active members of her community, which comprises of 150 households.
The community which survived on subsistence farming since generations has recently found a new way of generating more income — ‘berry picking’. Maya and her community members collect wild berries from the forest that grow above 8000 feet and sell it to an entrepreneur who makes 12000 bottles of Nepali wine per year, called ‘hinwa’ (the one you’re holding now)…
With the extra income from the berries, Maya has been able to send her two granddaughters to school and is rearing couple of goats to sell in the upcoming festive season.
The story ends with: With every bottle you purchase, 2% of the amount goes to a local charity in Maya’s village, which is utilising the funds to build six new classrooms, to accommodate more students and to expand its services as a Higher Secondary School.
Which one will you choose? — The French wine, or Maya’s Nepali wine?
I’m guessing you’d go for the Nepali wine. I surely would go for it without giving any thought whatsoever — simply because it has an amazing story behind it. One that makes perfect sense, adds more value, and is definitely worth a try!
The fact is that the story, as hard as it can be to tell and to weave, is always going to be what stands out more than anything else. When you look at the entire landscape of marketing today, the brands who know how to tell stories are the ones that win. Every story is a chance to increase the world of your product, your brand, your blog or whatever the fuck else you’re working on.
Here’s the 3 things that I know for sure are fucking important for telling stories:
🍕 Storytelling Tip #1: Un-Thing Yourself
We could say, without going into epistemological details of the word, its use in the construction of the social imaginary, or its impact on culture and religion from ancient times of humanity, that for all intents and purposes in which marketers are involved in, storytelling is:
the “art” of giving shape and meaning to a piece of information that’s dull and boring.
In advertising, it’s also one of the most powerful tools of persuasion, that is, to combine an idea with an emotion. As stated by Christian Salmon in his book, storytelling is what allows brands and products to ‘un-thing-themselves’ so that they can actually speak and captivate.
This is one of the best things anyone is ever going to tell you about storytelling. In order to make it work, you have to take your brand from being a vague concept, or an abstract thing, and make it real and personable through a narrative. The story’s success depends on this.
The brand becomes something with greater strength, purpose and meaning when it’s pulled together with emotion, with context, with a hero’s journey, and with enough touchpoints that will resonate with your audience.
🍕 Storytelling Tip #2: Embrace The Hero’s Journey
A popular form of structure derived from Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth from his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces and adapted by Christopher Vogler is the Twelve Stage Hero’s Journey. This is essentially a more detailed Character Arc for your story’s hero which is overlayed onto the more traditional three-act structure that many successful Hollywood movies such as Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz when analyzed appear to follow.
The Hero’s Journey is the ultimate way to structure a story about anything and everything. It’s a presentation of the journey through a narrative that almost all ancient myths and legends are based on, and from which almost every successful film and comic book today stems. Whether we’re talking about the Bible or SOLO: A Star Wars Story, it’s the Hero’s Journey.
When we’re making fierce social media stories, this is important because it takes the user on a journey. That matters, and it keeps people reading and watching, whether it’s on Instagram, Medium, Snapchat or YouTube.
I use a modified version, with only 10 steps instead of 12, because I find it works better for social platforms.
1. Ordinary World
This is where you establish the existing world. Before the narrative, before your transformation. The world your brand is living in before everything changes. This is the baseline.
2. Call To Adventure
The call to adventure is where you show the challenge. The first thing that causes you to want to build a brand, or create a product, or embark on a journey or a mission. This is Steve Jobs discovering technology for the first time, or Luke Skywalker seeing the hologram of his sister.
3. Refusal Of The Call
The refusal builds up the tension. Steve Jobs went to India. Luke walked away from the hologram. We establish the doubt and the uncertainty of our story with the refusal.
4. Meeting The Mentor
The mentor can be a real person, or it can be a circumstance. The mentor is Obi-Wan Kenobi, but it’s also Steve Jobs encountering early investors.
5. Crossing The Threshold
When there’s no going back. When the die is cast. Pinpointing this moment should happen with the maximum amount of emotional stress and meaning, because this is when the audience of your story rises up.
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
You have to introduce characters, and moments of failure and test, to show that there is a struggle and there is a growth and there are real people involved with and connected to your story. Who the fuck is your Chewbacca and Han and where the fuck is your Death Star?
7. Approach To The Inmost Cave
This is a tough one. When you’re almost at your goal, when you’re approaching something major, something huge, you need to take care with your story. Playing the tension right here is difficult.
There is always a major ordeal. The band breaks up, the Avengers are scattered, Kenobi dies, your startup almost doesn’t get the funding they need to keep the lights on. What is the ordeal for your story?
9. Reward (Seizing The Sword)
When you reach where you need to get to, when you reach the goal, this is the moment of massive triumph. When you’re telling this part, you have to talk about how huge this is for you and for your brand, and what an impact it actually has. You’ve defeated the enemy! You’ve fucking won! Show your victory!
10. Return With The Elixir
The return is about the difference between the starting world and the finishing world, now that the call to adventure has been answered and the Hero has been successful. How are things different, how have things changed?
The Hero’s Journey allows you to tell gigantic, mythic stories. It’s world changing when you can do it right, and it will get audiences on every social platform to pay attention.
🍕 Storytelling Tip #3: Focus On What Your Audience Cares About
Another thing you need to bear in mind as you engage in brand storytelling is to understand whether the stories you want to tell are worth listening to or sharing. As a founder, you could have a much more emotional connect with your stories, milestones, and wins. But the question you need to ask is whether your audience will care about it. Think from your customer’s perspective. Put yourself in their shoes and ask whether the story would resonate with you if you weren’t already this engaged with the brand. You want to form an emotional connect and want your audience to try and find more information about your products and services. If you are cluttering their newsfeeds with irrelevant — or worse, narcissistic — stories that don’t really affect them, your storytelling could actually have an adverse effect.
There is no point telling a story that nobody wants to hear. Just because something is important to you does not mean it is going to matter in the slightest bit to your audience. They have different needs. They have different wants. They have different priorities.
Here’s what my audience wants:
🍕 Education (how to)
All the content that I make is designed to tell stories that tap into these wants and needs, because if I’m not making content for an audience, that the audience wants, they’re never going to pay any attention. Ever.
Ultimately, telling breathtaking stories is going to involve a key combination of these 3 things. If you want your stories to reach the world, use them. ⭐️
If you enjoyed this article, please hit that clap button. And just hold it the fuck down. That would be incredible! 👏
💡 The Daily Ask
I’ve been really starting to knuckle down on video lately. My ask today is that you watch some of my shit and shout me out if you enjoyed it!
I’ve started a live streaming show on Twitter called Bug Not A Feature:
It’ll be going live again next Tuesday morning, 8am Sydney time, and I hope to see a few more of you good people checking it out. I’ll tweet it out and share that I’m doing it before we go online, so you’ll have a bit of warning next time 😉
Today, I’m volunteering some of my time to run a masterclass for Remarkable, the Disability-Tech Accelerator and teach some of their folks about how to do social media right as a startup. I’m hoping I do a good job!
Fuck, that’s a hell of a day.
Somebody send me ☕️