Tell Me a Tale Through Social Media

By Katie Kearsey Reporting.  It’s one of the most crucial aspects of social media, and yet it’s often either dreaded or simply neglected.  As a result, reports can be tedious and hard to follow when countless numbers, statistics and graphs blur together.  Neither the report creator nor the report recipient benefits from this practice, which is why we must call upon our natural human capacity for storytelling.

 

Storytelling is a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years.  It’s a way to communicate information and convey meaning and value through our words and actions.  Stories capture the attention of listeners, and they linger in minds long after they are told.  In the context of reporting, the process of storytelling provides a framework for your statistics and brings them to life.  What are some techniques that contribute to a good story, and how can they help in social media reporting?

  • Develop and describe a character with an explicit goal. As in a story, reports should convey a strong understanding of the individual or brand.  They should also explicitly state the initial goal(s) of the campaign in question.
  • Ensure that the story has good substance.  The “bones” of reporting should be the information, data and numbers you find after running the campaign, and the rest of the story should be crafted around this foundation.
  • Address challenges that the character must overcome.  Reports should speak to all of the obstacles faced, and should include details explaining how and why they were (or were not) overcome.
  • Use the story to provide insight into the “big picture.”  Reports can be used to shed light on the social media industry as a whole, and they should also speak to your client or company’s place in that industry.

When you’re telling a story, it’s also important to keep the following in mind:

 

  • The audience. Speak directly to your audience in a way that is engaging and understandable.  If they’re social media experts, speak to them as such.  If they’re owners of a mom and pop shop, speak to them as such.  By addressing the audience appropriately, you’re paving the way for stronger connections because you demonstrate your understanding of them and their needs.  After all, effective communication isn’t about how smart you sound as much as it’s about how well you can make your point.
  • The visuals.  Try to describe a sunset.  Now, look at this photograph. When you find yourself struggling to communicate with words, let your images do the talking.
  • Include statistics, graphs, charts, pictures and detailed descriptions to paint a vivid picture for readers and listeners.
  • The bottom-line.  As Shakespeare once wrote, brevity is the soul of wit.  Stick to the point, and delete unnecessary facts and information.  Transparency is a valuable quality, and obscuring the truth only makes it seem as if you have something to hide.

What are some other crucial aspects of reporting you’re sure to include? Share your thoughts and answers in the comments!