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8 Storytelling Frameworks for a stronger Social Media Presence

Nowadays storytelling is an essential part of good social media marketing strategies. Discover eight easy-to-use storytelling frameworks to use immediately.
Chloë De Raedt
Published On
January 19, 2022

Nowadays storytelling is an essential part of good social media marketing strategies, and by extension online marketing strategies. Maybe the concept sounds familiar to you, but you have no idea what it entails or why it is so important?

We developed a crash course with eight easy-to-use storytelling techniques, that you can apply immediately.

About online storytelling

Online storytelling: what is that about exactly? It is quite simple: it is telling stories using your online channels, such as your website, LinkedIn, Facebook, and so on. Or better: conveying your message in a narrative style. That can be your brand story, but just as well a certain idea, concept, a testimonial from a former client, and more.

The narrative style is much more appealing than blandly sharing your products, your offers or why you are better than your competitors.

Do you work as a self-employed service provider, such as in consultancy or coaching, and upon reading this immediately wonder the following?

  • Do I have anything to share, especially in these times, during which I rarely see clients live?
  • Can I share stories about clients? Am I not breaching their confidentiality in doing so?
  • Will my followers be interested in my content?

Three times yes! At least if you integrate storytelling in your strategy. Using techniques for storytelling you can make seemingly insignificant or small facts or events come alive, and through that inspire and motivate your audience, as well as sell your services and showcase your expertise. And this works wonders for personal branding!

To give you the tools to get started right away, we have put together this crash course. Continue reading, because you don’t want to miss this story!

1. The before-and-after method

The structure of this method is:

  • You describe the problem.
  • You outline what would be ideal or desirable for your target audience, for example, using the words "but imagine if...”.
  • You explain the solution.

For which posts?

  • links to interesting articles or blogs on your website
  • tips, ideally showcasing your expertise in your domain
  • email campaigns: for example, you could promote your free e-book, which contains the solution to the problem at hand, and which is only downloadable by filling in an email address (which gives you subscriptions to your newsletter)
  • your own offer

Example: In this LinkedIn post by James Parry the ideal situation is included in the words “the world is your oyster”. In the same sentence, the solution to the problem is immediately presented.

2. The monomyth

In a monomyth, the hero of the story is experiencing difficulties or hardships. As a result, he has gained wisdom or accomplished something great.

For which posts?

  • your personal story: how it all started, what happened next, where you ended up afterwards and where you are now
  • the story of a client, whose problem was solved by your product or service

Example: In this video, consultant Elizabeth Dankoski tells her personal story about how she became a successful consultant.

3. Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle

The message of inspirational speaker Simon Sinek is “start with your why”. His main point is that the basis of a marketing strategy should always be the intrinsic goal of the company or organization. 

What is the raison d'être and ultimate goal? And this is not about earning money or making everyone happy. It has to be more specific. And that can be a hard nut to crack.

Here is why. Most companies can’t seem to stop repeating what they do and how they do it, but often forget to mention - explicitly or implicitly - why they do it. 

And that is a pity, because this is so powerful. Why? Because it allows you to strike a sensitive chord and establish valuable, authentic connections with your target audience. 

For which posts?

  • your brand story, in which you share why you do what you do, what you do exactly to achieve this and how

Example: In this video from known accountancy firm KPMG, the viewers are taken on a journey through time, centered around the ultimate why: “helping nations heal”.

4. The emotionally charged, personal story

Emotion works. Every marketing expert knows this. So tell emotionally charged, personal stories. Such a message contains strong, possibly even slightly provocative words. Most of the time, the first sentence draws attention, using strong words.

A variation on this is the three-part storytelling technique of famous author Dale Carnegie:

  • Share a relevant, personal experience: of yourself or a client.
  • Describe the action you took to solve the problem that arose.
  • Explain what the exact benefits of this action are.

For which posts?

  • positive testimonials of (former) clients
  • tips or life lessons, that you acquired after a certain event or experience 

Protip: Unsure whether you can mention your client in a testimonial on social media? Just ask them! If necessary, use a different, fictional name or mention that the client wanted to remain anonymous. You can also consider leaving out the client’s last name.

Example: In this post, sales and business consultant Adrian Miller kick-starts with powerful words to grab attention.

5. Starting in the heat of the action

In order to attract attention, you can start in the middle of the story, in the heat of the action, so to speak. First, you share the most exciting part of the story and only afterwards you dive into what happened before.

You can compare it to a trailer of a movie. You only see things that spark your curiosity and you wonder what else happens in the movie. Hence, you decide to watch the movie, or in the case of a social media post: to read the rest of the post. 

You can also start with an unexpected or strange statement or idea. Afterwards, you explain what is behind it.

For which posts?

  • your own vision or opinion
  • you own history or story
  • positive testimonials of (former) clients

Example: This post by Matteo Grassi starts with the fact that he started out with little money. After that, he explains what happened before (“we had multiple failed projects”), and only then he gets to his point.

6. Adding emotional weight to a problem

This is one of the most popular copywriting techniques.

  • You present the problem. 
  • You add emotional weight to the problem and get your target audience interested.
  • You explain the solution.

For which posts?

  • your own ideas, which showcase your expertise
  • your own offer

Example: In this post, HR coach Erin Lewber first introduces the problem and then adds emotional weight to it, for example by using the phrase “you’re past over”. After that, she gives a tip, which solves the initial problem.

7. Star – chain – hook

Consultant Frank W. Dignan developed this simple, but effective technique:

  • You start with a positive opening, such as “it is time to…”, “today is the day when…”, “I have very good news…”. Use smileys or exclamation marks to spice it up.
  • Sum up a chain of convincing benefits, facts or explanations to create desire.
  • Close with a hook: a call-to-action such as “go to…” or “contact me on…”. This can also be a question that elicits reactions.

For which posts?

  • your own offer
  • tips, ideally showcasing your expertise in your domain
  • links to interesting articles or blogs on your website

Example: This post by coach Trace Fisher is structured in this three-part way.

8. The fairytale technique

Emma Coats from Pixar developed no less than 22 rules for the perfect story. She used these in numerous storylines for movies, but they can be used for content as well. 

In fact, this technique is thousands of years old. Indeed, it is the basis of any fairy tale or other story with a happy ending, as told in a very simple manner that even children can understand.

It goes like this:

  • Once upon a time... x years ago…
  • Every day… (This is what life looked like.)
  • And because of that…
  • But this is not how I/he/she wanted it, this was not good, or then… happened…
  • But then… (The solution appears.)
  • Happy ending

For which posts

  • positive testimonials of (former) clients
  • your personal story

Example: In this post by business coach Justin Welsh, he outlines his personal history. He mentions years, what he didn’t want, what he then did, the consequences and the positive end result.

A few more tips to keep in mind

Don’t forget this checklist when you are making content:

  • Always start with these questions: Would this message be interesting for my target audience? What would be the best way to tell this story? In what form would this story be most appealing for my target audience: images, video, words in bold, using smileys… 
  • Keep things as simple as possible and structure your content. For example, use short sentences and lists and avoid difficult words.
  • Activate the imagination. You can do this by using powerful images or videos and through your words.
  • Draw attention immediately in the first sentence of your post. Definitely don't use boring or long intros.
  • Make it personal.

Do you need help with storytelling? The coaches from Willow can help you out.