When it comes to social media and digital marketing it is easy to say why a person needs your product. It is Great! or you may say it will save the day. Typically if not in those exact words it is something to that effect.

Many times than not what happens? You may have a person come to see your content and then either show some interest or just walk away and not give you a second glance. Why did they leave? Was it something about you? Did you have an offending nose Goblin hanging out? body order? More than likely that was not the case.

The possible problem was that you didn’t capture their attention. or you did but you were not able to hold that attention long enough find their pain point. So how do you grab a hold of a person’s attention and hold on to it? Try the oldest form of communication there is. Tell a story.

What is a Story?

Now I agree that is a weird question. Yet when many people are given the opportunity to tell a story they don’t really know how to tell a good story. When it comes to talking telling a story doesn’t come naturally to people. The most engaging people in a group are telling some type of story when they are talking.

What is a story? Why is it so powerful?Click To Tweet

If you ask most people to describe a story they say that is a retelling of an event that has a beginning a middle and an end. I don’t agree with this. The other item that has a beginning, a middle and an end is a turd.

So what else could best describe a story? The best definition I have heard is when a person overcomes a specific problem. Whether it is the hero’s journey or a rite of passage. Each type of story has a way of gripping a persons attention.

Types of Stories

Blake Snyder has ten different types of stories that can be used for marketing stories.

  1. Monster in the House – A big overwhelming problem your hero (customer) is faced and how they overcome the problem.
  2. Out of the Bottle (Wishes and curses) – The problem using the wrong solution
  3. Whydunit – Everybody loves a good mystery
  4. Golden Fleece (Quest; Journey) – Think Star Wars or The Hobbit
  5. Rites of Passage – also called Coming of age
  6. Institutionalized
  7. Buddy Love – two guys on a quest
  8. Superhero – the product in question
  9. Dude with a Problem
  10. The Fool Triumphant (Underdog) – Everybody loves an underdog

Each of these stories can be used for a different scenario, and when told well the story can draw the person in without even realizing they are being drawn in.

Pixar’s 22 Rules for Telling a Story

Pixar is as big of a name as they get when it comes to telling stories. Whether it is Toy Story, Monsters Inc, or any of their excellent shorts you know the name. Pixar has won awards for their storytelling. They are able to nail the storytelling by using their own 22 rules to storytelling.

The Rules are as follows

  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time, there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. The story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Don’t forget the story Spine or Rule #4

Once upon a time, there was ___.

Who is your hero or protagonist?

Every day, ___.

What does your hero do? what are they good at?

Then One day ___. 

A major event happened that upset your hero’s world. What is that problem?

Because of that, ___.

With the event how did the hero react?

Because of that, ___.

Because he reacted the way he did what chain of events did it create

Until finally ___.

How did your hero get out of the problem?

And ever since that day ___.

So because of the actions and changes how did your hero change?

With these steps, you can get a story straight and makes it easier to tell each time. Storytelling is like riding a bike. It’s challenging and cumbersome when you first start. Then before you realize it you are jumping curbs like it is natural.

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Bryan Goodwin

Social Media Manager at Goodwin Social Media
Bryan has been in the social media field in one form or another. whether it is blogging, podcasting, or trying out the latest social network . There is a good chance that you will find him talking somewhere.
I am here!

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