We have so many tools to help us collect lots of contacts on our favorite social networks, which can be really helpful for anyone — especially small business owners, freelancers, and solopreneurs.
But collecting contacts isn’t really the point, not if you want to make an impact in your niche. You see, social media allows us to collect contacts, but it’s not until we connect that we begin to build relationships. And relationships are where magic happens. Relationships help us land clients, grow our businesses, and take our big ideas to an even bigger stage. The story we tell is important to that.
If you only collect followers or friends but don’t connect with them, you will not get interaction or engagement. And you certainly won’t land clients. That’s because they won’t hear your message since it won’t resonate with them.
The story makes the message resonate. That’s right: An important element to cultivating relationships, especially via social media, is the story.
No, I don’t mean you must turn into your favorite novelist and spin a compelling tale of mystique, intrigue, and danger. But if you want to truly stand out in the minds of your contacts, you do need to think about your story and tell it across social media.
Here is how to tell a story via social media that resonates with your target audience so you can connect:
Introduce the story with your profile
No matter what social network you use, it has a profile or bio section. Use it. Briefly tell users what you are about — what type of content they can expect to see if they follow or friend you. Depending on the culture of the social network, infuse a bit of your own personal story into that profile, even if your intention is to use the network for business. For instance, in my Twitter profile, I tell users I am an author and ghostwriter. But I also say I am a mom. That’s the business story and the personal story combined. At Facebook, users know I like the Dallas Cowboys.
The profile is often the first point of contact a new user has with you. You can set expectations by using the space wisely to let your story begin to draw a connection with the user.
Share content that furthers the story
Once you have someone who has friended or followed you because of the short story you told in your bio, further that story connection with the content you choose to share. If you are using a social network for business, then be sure to share content that engages your reader on an emotional level. Storytelling is about emotion. Remember, it’s great to share facts and figures, but often, sharing that information wrapped in a story is a better approach because the story taps into our emotions and helps us recall the facts more easily.
For instance, if you run an organization that helps fight hunger, you can post a stat: “One in six people in America struggles with hunger,” or even, “Millions of Americans struggle with hunger on a daily basis,” and get a lukewarm response, if any.
But when you wrap that stat in a story, you will get a better reaction. In this case, the story may be: “Seven-year-old Amy dreads the weekend. That’s because she knows she probably won’t get another meal until Monday when she returns to school. You see, Amy is one of the millions in America struggling with hunger. For Amy and her brother, the school lunch program is their best shot at a healthy meal during the day. Unless you donate now.”
See the difference?
Create content — blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc. —that makes your point through emotionally charged stories. It’s not just about the facts you want to share. It’s also about the way you make your reader feel.
For instance, if you write a blog post about a problem your target audience has and you humanize it by talking about a time when you had that same problem and what you did to solve it, then you tap into the emotions. Remind the readers of the frustration, annoyance, headache, and pain of this issue. And show them how all that can be a thing of the past, with your solution or approach.
But you don’t have to create every piece of content you share. You can curate content that is compelling and engaging; that is related to your niche or target area. Share this content. Add a comment that asks a question or shares your opinion on some element of the content.
Yet another way to connect through story is to tap into the aspirations of your readers. Tell stories about the beautiful life or wok they crave. Help them see that they don’t have to remain stuck in the unproductive place they are in; they can actually move to something better. Your inspiring stories can help them see that.
The more stories you tell that inspire or that show them you understand their pain, the more opportunity you have to connect with them. In fact, they may even comment on your blog, email you to tell you how what you said affected them, or tweet you. From there, a relationship can emerge.
Even when you tell your story, know that it’s about your reader
Telling your own story can be a powerful way to connect via social media. You can use your story in a way that lets your reader see that you two have something in common. But be careful not to make it all about you. It’s not. Sure, you are sharing your story, but do that in the context of what your reader needs, if you are using social media for business. You do this by showing your reader how your story is relevant to her issue or pain. You do this by showing your reader how what you went through is just like what she went through — except that you have this one piece of advice or this suggestion for a way to improve the situation. You do this by showing your reader that what you have to say is really about this thing she is dealing with now.
For instance, if you are a personal trainer using social media to get new clients, then share your own personal weight loss or transformation story, but also share stories of clients you’ve helped do the same. Share before pictures, and after. Share testimonials from people who are in much better shape now than before they let you help them. This is all the story of your work and what it can do in someone else’s life.
Storytelling isn’t about being a writer
The idea of storytelling in social media can be intimidating, but don’t let it be. Remember, while I am a writer, I’m not saying you have to be one. This isn’t about winning a literary award. It’s about connecting with your followers, friends, and circles on an emotional level. Connect on an emotional level, and you will have a deeper, more meaningful social media conversation.