Social Media is all based on storytelling, on “What are you doing” and “What are your thoughts?”. On what you ate, where and who you had dinner with, where you’re spending your holiday. It’s engines are fuelled by what you read last weekend, what you thought about the last Harry Potter movie and what awesome Ted talk you’ve discovered today.
To get people’s attention you need to be able to know good stories when you see them, to adapt them to the short, telegraphic style of Twitter or to make them visual for Facebook. Just like a story is written differently for TV, radio or a magazine, a story has to be adapted for Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, your blog etc.
Practice six words stories for better tweeting
Hemingway once said his best novel was a six words story. ‘“For sale: baby shoes, never worn”, the story says. Would you click on that link? This is how your Tweets have to sound.
Start by writing big stories into 4, 6, 10 words. Experiment with writing short movie reviews. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Never-mind the plot, just enjoy Johnny; Terminator 2: Arnold’s back, like he promised) or books. Even songs.
Stalk an over-sharer or two
Over-sharers are brilliant storytellers. You might despise them, make fun of them, or be one of them and not know it, but over-sharers know how to be the center of attention. Look at the photos they put up on Facebook and carefully follow their tweets. They know what they’re talking about.
Write two lines summaries for your blog posts
Sometimes you write and write and it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. And you’re not getting a lot of comments, even though you can see that people are reading your stuff. Maybe what you’re saying is not clear enough, maybe you’re saying too many things, or maybe you’re just boring. What are you saying? Try writing 2 lines post summaries to see if you know what you’re saying and to find out if you have a story to tell.
Keep a notebook in your pocket
Good stories are everywhere around you, you just have to open your eyes, take off your headphones and look at people. Try to observe at least one beautiful thing a day. It can be the smile of the lady you’ve offered your seat to, a nice building, the sky or a red Vespa. Write it down. Let yourself over-hear stuff in the metro. Write it down.
Talk less next time you have a beer with your friends at pay attention to the type or stories (and topics!) people are more interested in. Write it down.
Create maps of interestingness
Try to create a (very basic) map of what’s interesting for you and your friends. Once you have it, do a one week experiment and create updates based on those interests. Select and invent stories. See what happens. See if the number of replies, likes and comments you get grows that week.
Listen two times and write/speak once. The more you understand about what your audience and what its needs and interests, the better you’ll be at creating stories. And the better you are at making people care about your stories, the more successful you are at using social media. ‘Cause social media is all about storytelling.
The better you are at writing six words stories, the more chances you have at getting a large Twitter follower base. And at getting more, both personally and professionally from Twitter and Facebook.
header image by mr-bigman on flickr