Storytelling in social networks: formats, rules, mistakes


Users come to social networks to relax, have fun, learn the latest news and get useful information. That’s why direct advertising here comes in worse than on search engines, where people are looking for goods and services right now. To break through the insensitivity to advertising and improve the effectiveness of promotion in social networks helps storytelling.

We tell you what it is, what other problems it solves and how to create stories that work in this article.

What is storytelling and how does it work?

Storytelling in literal translation is storytelling, in simple words, it is a technique of presenting information in the form of a story with characters, place, time, conflict and denouement.

In marketing and advertising, this technique is used everywhere: in commercials and ads, articles for blogs and media, on sales pages, in publications and promotional posts for social networks.

Such a headline immediately makes it clear that inside there is a story waiting for us, fascinating or not so fascinating:

Storytelling in SMM

In SMM, storytelling helps bloggers and brands show their human face, get closer to their subscribers, gain trust and remove barriers. And also – to make content interesting and engaging. Reading stories built on the laws of drama is more interesting than dry instructions, reviews and compilations.

Storytelling is not a particular format, but a technique that can be used to solve a variety of problems. For example, you can:

  • Increase engagement levels;
  • Warm up the audience by moving it down the sales funnel;
  • form an opinion about a company, a product or an expert;
  • to arouse trust if, of course, the story is true and there is no doubt.

Storytelling in Targeted Advertising

The main task of storytelling in advertising is to attract the user’s attention and engage him or her in an interaction. In an age of banner blindness and a surfeit of useful content, when people are increasingly less receptive to advertising, engaging stories have become an effective tool for engaging users in the sales funnel. That is, of course, if they’re not the tired, copy-pasted stories of infobusinessmen.

Targeted advertising uses storytelling to:

  • attract subscribers to the company’s communities on social networks;
  • to collect the base in the mailing list through lead magnets and infoproducts;
  • sell goods and services through unobtrusive native advertising;
  • drive traffic to your site or landing page.


Competent storytelling helps targeters do more effective advertising and thereby bring more revenue to their clients. And increase your own revenue, you can in affiliate program. Sign up and get up to 18% of client advertising spend.

When performed well, the technique of storytelling works so well because of:

  • simple form;
  • emotional coloring;
  • intrigue;
  • nativeness;
  • Proximity to the target audience.


Let’s figure out how to make such quality stories.

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How to make stories that work

In some ways, making stories is more complicated than making regular ones. After all, we not only need to gather facts and draw conclusions, but we need to weave it all into a story, invent or describe characters and events, add details, and develop conflict.

Start with the objectives and the key idea. Any post in a commercial community or blog is written for something: to attract new subscribers, to increase activity, to sell. Before you create a story, decide what outcome you want. Then formulate the key message you need to convey to your subscribers in order to achieve the desired result. For example, if we want to attract users to the community of an online school, this idea could be that the content will help to solve financial problems or decide on the field of activity.

When the goal and the key idea are clear, you can gather the facts for the story. The entire process of creating a post in a storytelling format is shown in the diagram below:

Focus on your target audience. You can write as many exciting and engaging stories with powerful conflict and vivid detail as you want, but if they don’t resonate with your readers, if they feel “this is about me,” no magic will happen. So here, as elsewhere in marketing, you need an analysis of pains, needs, and barriers. Selling earnings training with a story about moving to Thailand to those who can barely make ends meet is a dubious idea. For them, Thailand is somewhere else in their lives, but credit and saving for necessities is here and now. Although everything, of course, must be tested 😉

Take real events as the basis. Often the facts for the story are taken from the ceiling – fantasy is limitless. However, posts based on real events are more realistic and close to the audience. These can be cases from the life of the brand, clients’ cases, or stories they have seen somewhere. For example, to advertise the same online school instead of the tales of beaches with laptops, which have long ceased to work, you can take the real story of a student who, thanks to the courses were able to find a good job.

True personal stories inspire credibility; “from dirt to riches” style tales inspire skepticism.

Keep it intriguing. Although storytelling is a marketing tool, its mechanisms are close to fiction. For stories to be read to the end, they need to create emotional tension, or at least make people curious to know how it will end. You can create intrigue by inserting, for example, a fact from the denouement in the beginning to raise the question “how did this happen in the first place.

Storytelling schemes are also used to create compelling stories:

  • “The Mountain” – a series of events whose drama builds with the emotional tension;
  • “Before and After” – vivid pictures of the state and life of the hero before and after the fateful event;
  • “From the Middle” – the story begins at the peak of the conflict;
  • Classic structure – introduction, plot, conflict, denouement;
  • “Hero’s journey” – the story begins with the hero going on a journey: a real journey or a change.
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Write and speak simply. There are quite a few articles, courses and even the famous orange book about superfluous terms, clericality and stamps. In storytelling, it is even more important to write without all this garbage than in reviews and instructions, because the story should fascinate you and read in the same breath. So when you write a text or script, imagine telling a case to a friend. This will help you choose wording that conveys the right thoughts and will not complicate the perception.

Add details. They solve two problems at once: make the story more realistic and allow the reader to see themselves in the events and characters. But don’t get carried away: only those details that help reveal the essence and lead to the right conclusions will do good. A detailed description of physical appearance in a post for an online school group would be superfluous, but for a dietician or stylist account it can enhance the effect.

Be realistic. Even a story that actually happened can be embellished and twisted so much that no one will believe it. Yes, in storytelling, cases from life are often supplemented with fictional details to enhance the effect. But it is important not to overdo it – the refined posts of infobusinessmen are so worn out, that users now look at any storytelling critically.

What formats should be used for storytelling on Facebook and Instagram



Although there are both stories and videos on Facebook, it is textual content that predominates. And it is just the storytelling that elicits a lively reaction there, gathering likes and comments, both on business pages and personal blogs.

Facebook users have no problem reading long posts and opening discussions with hundreds of comments below them. That’s why stories in text format work well here. However, videos and stories can be tested, too. That said, posts on personal pages without third-party links get more coverage. So bloggers and experts develop a personal brand through them. However, for targeted advertising, you still have to have a business page.

Such stories usually don’t sell anything, but they provoke reactions and therefore increase engagement.


In Instagram in 2021, the leading positions are taken by posts, posts in the feed are in the second place, and Reels has not yet gained so much popularity. So a good way to engage and engage your audience with this social network through storytelling is to pack your story into a sequence of posts. You can and should experiment with formats: record video, take photos, draw diagrams and graphics, take screenshots. And add text, emoji, interactive and animated stickers to complement it all.

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This is what Storytelling in the format of Instagram Stories can look like:

True, storitelings have one big disadvantage: they disappear after 24 hours. If it’s important that the story can be viewed at any time, keep it in a separate folder of actual posts. And, of course, it’s worth testing out storrithreading in posts and Reels, too. The feed can give coverage, too, and Reels will gain popularity. Plus, it’s as if the latter were designed to show dynamic and engaging stories, and now you can place targeted ads in them as well.

How not to do storytelling

Even the most thoughtful, realistic and well-crafted story can easily be ruined if you make some mistakes.

Overdramatize. Although storytelling is close to fiction, there’s no need for theatrical drama.

Users should not only empathize with the characters, but also believe in them and see a reflection of themselves.

Write in isolation from the reader’s world. Don’t use pains, needs, and triggers that the target audience doesn’t care about. A very crude but clear example of this mistake is telling a story about a wrecked Porsche to people looking for inexpensive insurance.

Dragging out the narrative. Even if your audience is great at reading long posts, stretching out the plot over several long paragraphs is not a good idea. When you want long descriptions, you can open Tolstoy, but the stories should be dynamic and easy to read.

Overload the language with terms. This flaw has two unpleasant consequences:

  • Because of the complexity of the story not everyone will read to the end;
  • It will be obvious that the post was written on purpose, and few people will believe it.
  • Forget about the visual elements. Even if you do storytelling in text format, supplement it with photos, graphics and diagrams.
  • Visuals grab attention, reveal text, and help you vividly visualize what you’re talking about.

7 tools for designing storytelling on social networks

And finally, as promised, a collection of tools that will be useful for storytelling in social networks:

  • Canva – service for creating graphics for social networks and not only;
  • Supa – designer of video clips and video posts in social networks;
  • Lightroom – mobile application for retouching and photo processing;
  • Bazaart – mobile application for photo editing and graphic design;
  • Infogram – service for creating infographics;
  • – tool to remove backgrounds from photos in one click;
  • SMMplanner – deferred posting service with built-in integration with Canva and Supa.

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