HOW TO USE VIDEO STORYTELLING IN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

Kim Stricker
10 min readNov 1, 2022

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Take a second to mourn the loss of traditional social media marketing. The glory days of posting beautifully curated photos with a hooky blurb are gone. Hope is not lost within the algorithms and it comes in the form of a video format called social media storytelling.

Set aside a few minutes will dive into a few strategies of good storytelling that even the big brands use to build new audiences. Everything you need to get you up to speed and show you easy ways you can attract your audience’s attention with social media video storytelling so you can get to creating video content, increase engagement, understand the benefits of compelling video storytelling as a video format, and get your social marketing strategy in top shape.

Social Media Storytelling Marketing Has Arrived

Apple took home the Grand Prix in Film at the 2022 Cannes Lions Awards for creative excellence for their video, “Escape from the Office,” a storytelling video advertisement that joyfully remained in YouTube’s top ten throughout the summer racking up 34.5 million views.

It’s a humorous 9-minute story about a group of entrepreneurs who ditch their jobs to create a start-up. It feels more like a Comedy Central sketch than your traditional Apple ad, which typically features their products in front of stark white backgrounds.

And it’s not directly about Apple, but they use Apple products.

So what’s the takeaway? It’s an interesting story. You already know that consumers have been gravitating toward video on social media for years. But they don’t engage with just any kind of video.

Successful video storytelling in particular has become the new benchmark for what works in social media marketing. That means you’ve got to master the art of selling your brand or products, not just through video, but with a story.

Why Are Good Stories In Video Marketing So Powerful?

Let’s unpack a little of the psychology behind video storytelling so we can understand why brands like Apple are ditching their classic advertising for more entertainment-based models.

“We think in story. It’s hardwired in our brains. It’s how we make strategic sense of the otherwise overwhelming world around us,” says Lisa Cron, author of Wired for Story, a book that reveals the science behind what makes a good story.

Facts and figures, features and benefits–they’re informative but not memorable, they are interesting things but not memorable. They go in one ear and out the other because they don’t trigger any of the memory chemicals in your brain, such as dopamine–the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure.

A compelling story, on the other hand, connects to our memory. It triggers dopamine, transporting the message like a train to your brain.

Telling stories to bring your messages to life. They put your customer at the center of your story, empowering them to live vicariously through your ads, in turn stamping your brand into the neurons of their brains. It lands on an emotional level — much more memorable than straight facts.

Back in 2014, Meta and Refinery 29 published a widely cited study that found that shoppers are much more likely to take an action after they watch a brand story ad vs. an informational ad or watch videos. Even though they didn’t focus on video specifically, when readers were served storytelling ads, they found an 87% increase in landing page visits and a 56% lift in CTA actions.

Turns out, the magic TV and film industry has been creating for years isn’t just for entertainment. Or TV. Or Theaters. Visual storytelling can also be used for social media marketing and now big brands or anyone can make video storytelling work for them.

Video Storytelling on Social Media Platforms

Before you spend a lot of money on an advertising program on social platforms, consider the value of the social media marketing subscribe button in the form of a call to action. Thanks to recent advancements in technology, it’s never been easier to create social media videos. We’re all directors now, with the ability to film visual content from our handheld devices and edit them with any number of editing apps.

You can choose between long or short videos, highly edited masterpieces to impactful but gritty live videos, and any number of trending sounds or special effects. Today’s social media algorithms favor video content, so the challenge is about telling the right story, the right way, on the right platform.

Social Media Marketing Video Storytelling Tips & Examples

Of course, it’s not that easy. Storytelling on a social media platform doesn’t come naturally to everyone but the good news is there are a few templates marketers have found to draw the attention of target audiences.

1. Tell Personal Brand Stories To Build A Personal Connection

A personal brand story is a narrative that tells the acts and emotions that define your brand’s story through the lens of your employees, from C-level down to customer service.

Your personal brand stories are valuable because it lets people connect with your business on a more personal level, creating not just one-time buyers but lifelong advocates.

Even though you might think your own story is too dull for social media marketing, the reality is that you can always find meaning if you know where to look. Here’s some inspiration:

  • Focus on challenges and what you did to overcome them
  • Choose the most compelling details, even small actions and decisions can make an impact
  • Don’t frame yourself as perfect–be authentic and own mistakes
  • It doesn’t have to be directly about your brand, it just has to have a message your brand directly supports.

A great example of personal brand storytelling is Jake from State Farm. With 130K Instagram followers (including Drake), he creates reels that talk about anything from shopping to dining to what’s in his junk drawer, never really about car insurance, though you bet he’s wearing their brand’s colors and logos.

2. Share Your Customers’ Stories

Video reviews and testimonials have their place, but let’s take a step back and look at another compelling slightly less direct way to get your customers to make your brand look good.

You can also share interesting personal stories of your customers with social videos. For example, Airbnb posts reels of its customers enjoying vacations. Even if it is never spoken, the message is that beautiful experiences are possible thanks to Airbnb’s accommodations.

Slightly more direct, Hubspot creates video testimonials that moonlight as great stories. For example, they let Will Curran, owner of Endless Entertainment, a nationwide event production company, tells his story about how he increased sales using their platform. The video feels like a personal story and less like a direct testimonial, leaving a lasting impression

Slack pulls even pulls off a scripted testimonial.

3. Don’t Be Afraid of a Fictional Video Series

Like the Apple ad we talked about earlier, consumers are more than willing to gobble down a solid piece of entertaining content whether it comes from Netflix, Paramount +, or brands like Duolingo, a free language-learning program, whose TikTok page often tells meme-y fictional stores through its mascot…with hundreds of thousands of likes each.

Kate Spade is another brand that deftly handles fictional storytelling in its social media marketing. Their #missadventure series, about troubles the lead character faces checking into hotels (all while wearing Kate Spade), was widely shared on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and their website. It didn’t hurt that they got Anna Kendrik to be the main character in their first episode.

4. Create Documentary Videos

You can tell the stories of people or influencers who inspire your brand. For example, Norton Antivirus Security produced a two-part series, The Most Dangerous Town on the Internet, exploring cybercrime and real-world digital threats. It’s an interesting topic on its own, but it ties back to the brand’s product offerings.

Patagonia also takes the documentary approach head-on, producing a feature-length film called, Artifishal, about the fight for the future of wild fish, a topic their customers are passionate about. They posted it to their YouTube garnering about 4.5 million views to date.

5. Go Behind the Scenes

Using short-format social videos to peel the curtain back on what it’s like to work at your company is a great way to endear your audience to your brand. Instead of coming off as an advertisement, it makes the viewer feel like they’re your friend. Hello, Fresh used its TikTok page to show a day in the life at their offices.

6. Interviews and Podcasts

An Interview is a low-cost way to create compelling video content, especially with an engaging guest. It doesn’t matter if you have a LoFi set or the image never moves. People still like watching interviews. You can create either long or short-format videos where you interview subject matter experts, engaging guests, or even celebrities in your industry.

The Best Social Media Platforms To Share Video Content

All social networks leverage video but in different ways. You probably already know that the same video will perform differently depending if it is posted on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or TikTok.

It is important to understand each social media channel individually in determining a successful video marketing plan, so let’s take a closer look at what kind of videos work on which platforms.

YouTube is a Library of Video Content

We’ll start with the big daddy of videos–YouTube.

Each day brands post thousands of hours of videos on YouTube, which is valuable, both as an online marketing tool and as an audience-building platform. With the app now available on most TVs, use this platform to publish the long-form video storytelling you want to have the longest shelf life. YouTube notably dabbled in short format videos but soon abandoned the strategy in favor of longer videos.

Create playlists that group together videos with a similar theme. The only caveat — even though YouTube is a great video host, it isn’t the ideal platform for sharing videos widely.

Facebook Video Content is King

Facebook videos are now the most important way to get your videos by fans at a large scale, above all other social media platforms. If you make videos for YouTube but don’t share those videos with Facebook, you could lose sales for a strong platform.

Facebook has 6 types of video marketing:

  1. Linked Facebook Video — the video hosted elsewhere such as Vidyard, or YouTube, that you post directly on your Facebook page.
  2. Native Facebook Video or In-Feed Videos — most Facebook videos are native because theft end to perform the best.
  3. Facebook Video Stories — Inspired by Snapchat, it’s a series of content strung together in a montage.
  4. Facebook Live Video — Live videos are fundamentally a disruption, but with the right storytelling videos, they can be a welcome one.
  5. Facebook Video Ads — There are three ad formats: Carousel, sponsored post, sponsored story
  6. Facebook Cover Videos — The cover of your Brand Page can be transformed into a video that plays silently on a loop

Instagram Reels and TikTok

Both Instagrams Reels and TikTok are made for short-format storytelling videos and are great even for B2B social media marketing strategies. You can split hairs about the difference between the features and benefits of each of these social media channels, but what you need to know is which platform your target audience is on, and what hashtags they’re looking at. TikTok is a little rawer, slightly younger, and reaches wider audiences with its algorithm. Instagram is a little more polished, slightly older, and is seen more by your current fans. Then you can create videos that speak to the appropriate audience.

How Can You Improve Your Video Storytelling Techniques?

When creating effective video storytelling remember these tips to make the video not be overly prescient in the filming and/or editing or the aesthetics.

Stay on Topic

Avoid allowing video elements such as individual stories to dominate your message. Make sure to focus on the most valuable piece of information to the story and the viewer, which is not necessarily the same as your CEO.

Be Relatable

In other words, avoid being preachy, perfect, or superior unless you can infuse them with a healthy dose of irony.

Make an Emotional Connection

Use emotional triggers to convey the emotions your audience is most likely to want to feel. Identify the problems and challenges your audience faces and work those into your storytelling.

Edit

When preparing videos, only include the most relevant information. Avoid overindulgent content that isn’t add anything new or humorous to the story. Obviously, a Reel or TikTok should be shorter than a YouTube video. Just make sure the video accomplishes its goal as quickly as possible;

Talk About Them, Not You

You should share videos related to your customers rather than just focusing on yourself, but one way to have your cake and eat it too? Use videos of your customers talking about you.

Key Take Aways

There’s no understating the importance of storytelling in your social media social channels. With brands as influential as Apple ditching their old approach to social media marketing strategies to use video storytelling, the next chapter in marketing has arrived!

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Kim Stricker

I'm a social media marketing story, manager, and founder of Social Motto Social Media Marketing Agency in Detroit. https://www.mysocialmotto.com/