On social media, it is crucial that you tell an interesting story if you want to build a big audience. Instagram calls itself a “visual inspiration platform”, and the best way to inspire others is through the power of visual storytelling. With over 1 billion users, Instagram is the perfect place to get others listening to what you have to say and engaging with you. No matter if you aspire to be an influencer, or have your own brand - without a story to tell it will be hard to capture people's attention.
But why is that?
Look at it like this: While the books you have at school are full of facts and information, you probably struggle to get interested in its content. Whereas a book that you read at home, full of lively stories, with a character that you can relate to will be hard to put down! This is exactly what separates social media storytelling from a simple post or professional content.
On Instagram, the best way to connect with others is through short, snackable stories that tie into your values and purpose. Whether you are using Instagram for a personal account or business account, you want to develop a strong presence that represents what you’re passionate about in life.
We are huge fans of using video to speak directly to our audience. It’s a great way to build trust with our followers, and of course Insta Stories are perfect for that. They are short, quick to consume and kind of create this feeling of “urgency” as they disappear after 24h (if you don’t add them to your highlights of course). We really take our time to share as much as we can throughout our day so that our followers feel like they’re part of it. One thing that’s really important is to have a COMPLETE story. What does that mean? It means that your story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Don’t just start in the middle of the day and expect people to catch up. They will feel confused and left out and skip your story. Instead, let them see your face in the morning and share your plans for the day with them. Make sure to also share the execution of your plan with them, as well as your thoughts and feelings once it's all done.
However, Insta stories aren’t the only way to “tell a story” on Instagram! Marie and I for instance like to share our love story, feelings and thoughts with our content. Instead of just posting a pretty picture we put a lot of thought into what we want to transmit. Not only with the caption but also with the picture itself. While a high-quality image is nice to look at, a picture that shows emotion and tells a story is what will get people hooked. And a captivating caption will help to complete the story by sharing your thoughts further.
"Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell."
– Seth Godin”
And what makes a good story?
Storytelling is vital in making your content stand out, especially nowadays when it can be hard to cut through all the noise. So much content is posted daily, but what differentiates the successful ones from the rest? It is content that is relatable, memorable, authentic and expresses emotions. This is only made possible by telling stories, as we are naturally drawn to them. When someone is a really good storyteller, we feel like we experience it ourselves. This is powerful and can leave any audience spellbound.
But before sharing a story you need to ask yourself, Who are your listeners? Who will engage with your story the most? You need to understand your audience to create a compelling story. Once you’ve figured that out, it’s time to consider a few factors if you want to make an impact.
Stay relatable: a good story agrees with what your audience already believes in, and makes them feel like they can relate to you. Imagine someone telling you how they went for lunch with the queen, what an honor it was and how blessed they felt. I’m sure they had a great time, but will you be able to relate and connect with them based on that story? Probably not.
Make it memorable: an interesting story might be enough for people to tap “like.” Though what makes people engage and take action is a meaningful story. When you tell a meaningful story you will stay in your audience's mind and build a strong connection with them.
Be authentic and stay true to yourself: your followers will know when you're dishonest or inconsistent. Not only will you seem unreliable, but you risk losing their trust. Focus on authenticity and truthfulness, and you will go a long way.
Show emotions: when you hear a story and feel a personal connection, it’s usually because it appeals to your senses. While hearing a story, different areas of your brain become engaged. Telling stories that trigger emotions raise personal connections.
📝 My homework for you:
For your next Instagram post, share a short story with more than three sentences. Explain your thoughts behind your photo or video or tell a little story about yourself so that your audience gets to know you better.
Great, now that you know what a good story consists of you might be asking:
How do you incorporate a story into your content?
Show, don’t tell
Creating vivid imagery helps your followers experience your story in more detail. For example, let’s say you just went on a trip and want to post a picture about it. How about describing your feelings when you arrived? Share what it felt to walk barefoot on a sandy beach. Describe how the sunset made you feel. Invite your readers to experience the charm with you. If you have seen Raquel and Miguel’s post you might have seen the small yellow captions they add to their pictures. It’s usually a short quote, or a sentiment that fits the atmosphere - a really great way to set the mood and convey their feelings.
If you are a brand you can do the same! Don’t just talk about dull facts and numbers. A powerful way to tell your brand story is through photos of people using your products in the real world. Share the experience people have when they buy and use them and how it makes them feel. Bring emotion and meaning to it so that a new customer can get excited to purchase your product and feel the same way.
Make it a series
Sometimes there is more to a story than just a simple post. If that’s the case, then make a series out of it! Talk a bit about your journey every monday for instance and get people involved so that they can’t wait to learn more about it (kind of like your favorite TV show that releases a new episode every week). Not only does this create tension but it also builds a long term connection with your audience as they will follow your story over a long time. For anyone new to your account, they will feel encouraged to scroll through your page to read the previous parts and get the whole story.
Create a photo collection, or as they call it a “photo dump”
Photo dumps allow you to tell a story in pictures. Share your highlights, from, let’s say your last trip. Instead of just posting one picture, collect your top memories from every day and share them in one carousel post. That allows you to share more impressions that people would not have seen otherwise.
Share a #TBT (Throwback Thursday)
Yes I know, #TBT seems to be out but if you don’t have any current exciting stories to tell, simply share a story from the past. An experience that taught you something, a trip that left you with happy memories or maybe an incident that has impacted or changed your life and made you who you are today. The list is really endless but know that there is always a story to be told.
I could go on and on with ways to tell a story but I think you get the idea. The important part is to include your audience in your story; that is how you will succeed. Your followers are more than just a number. They are part of your community, so you need to make them feel something. From now on, make sure that you create content that your audience can relate to. Talk to them as if they were your closest friends, give regular updates - anything to make them feel involved with your content. That’s what will make you unforgettable.