Social media marketing expert and founder of Amore Social, Samantha Hardcastle, is a sucker for a great story. She understands the power storytelling has on consumers. In this post, she offers some tips on how to leverage your social media platforms and promote your experiences in a way that engages and connects with readers. The result if done correctly: more sales for your tour business! Hit 'em with the goods, Samantha! Storytelling has been a buzzword in marketing for as long as marketing has been around. And rightly so: stories transport us and make us feel like we’re actually part of the experience. A participant, rather than a spectator. What better way to engage with your customer than to pull them into your experience, the very thing you’re selling?Storytelling evokes strong emotions within your customer, creating a deeper, more profitable bond. Narratives cut through this noisy online world like nothing else. That’s why you should start looking at social platforms like Instagram and Facebook as a micro-blogging platform to tell stories (visual and written). Don’t just use them to promote your experience.“But if I’m not constantly selling on social, I won’t get any customers” – right? Wrong!First, 92% of consumers want brands to make ads feel like a story. By giving people what they want, you’re already way ahead of the competition who is spamming them with boring or unwanted messaging.Second, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as “highly satisfied” customers. By taking the time to tell stories and create connections with people on social media, you create more lucrative relationships!Stories carve the quickest path to the heart and the mind. Storytelling comes naturally to most people (we often do it without even realizing!). But it sometimes can be hard to wrap your head around in terms of your business. The good news is, you can keep it simple - and still get results.This checklist will help guide you towards better storytelling on social. Not EVERY post has to follow this formula, but the more you do, the more you’ll see results.

This is your starting point. Now let’s dive in to some of the strategic details of storytelling, so you can get the most out of it!

Create Flow with Purpose

Like all good stories, make sure there is a clear beginning, middle, and end. There are so many storytelling formulas to follow, that it can be overwhelming. Take some time to familiarize with all of the different formulas, but don’t overthink it or you’ll never get a message out.For social media, I find it’s easiest to take each story through this framework, and then fill in the rest of the details after:The Feelings You Want Your Reader to Have:Since people are prone to putting themselves into the stories they hear, then where is this story taking them? Does it align with their wants & needs? First Sentence Hook:Capture their attention and let them know that there’s a story coming. Aha Moment, Turning Point, or Takeaway:This will ensure that your story is always going somewhere. Don’t just post to post! What is the purpose of this story? In the example below, you can see how this comes together. We wanted the reader to feel sentimental and nostalgic:

You know when the water sparkles so bright, you start to wonder if there’s a million diamonds underneath the surface? That’s how the water was today, and, well, we jumped in and looked around. No diamonds. 😞 But from the way our guests were laughing, singing, and splashing around in the water, you’d think they had found their own sort of treasure!Are you ready for a sparkling sail with us?

Takeaway: Our boat tour and the closeness/memories it delivers are priceless (and possibly worth more than an ocean full of diamonds). Experiences bring us closer, help us develop better relationships and memories, and are worth more than tangible things that won’t really bring you happiness.It’s important to note that the image you choose should tell a story in its own right, enough so that it encourages people to stop scrolling and start reading. If your image isn’t enticing enough, you’ll never get people to the point of reading.BONUS TIP: Messages delivered as stories can be up to 22x more memorable than just facts, so find a way to turn your facts into stories.

Communicate Shared Values

As the leader of your organization, you have values. Your organization has values. And your customers have values. When you can clearly tell stories about these values that your customers resonate with, you are leading them through your funnel, establishing that ever-important Know, Like, & Trust factor.What is your organization’s “why”? What statement are you making that people will nod their heads to? Tell stories that embody this, rather than making statements. Example:

Statement: we keep it local & sustainable!Story: Meanwhile, down the road at the orchard, thousands of apples were being hand-picked for our first batch of applejack…

Evoke Emotion

When you show (through your stories) that your experience can lead a customer to their desired “after” state by making them feel that way NOW, it instills a sense of confidence in them. It says to them “I can trust this tour/activity to give me what I am looking for.”How can you use stories to evoke emotion? Share sincerely, be vulnerable and tell stories that allow you to laugh at yourself. Paint a vivid picture. Don’t shy away from tales of struggle, failure, and overcoming barriers. This is what it means to be authentic in today’s modern marketing world.Magazines have been doing this for decades, and they have taken to social media to extend their emotional storytelling. Look to tourism and travel magazines for inspiration. The more stories you read and hear, the better storyteller you can become!

Don’t Forget the Call to Action

While storytelling is powerful, a Call to Action (CTA) gives it a serious boost. There’s nothing wrong with “asking for the sale” if you’ve delivered an immense amount of value through your storytelling. By the time you’ve ‘warmed up’ by storytelling, they will be eager to get in on your experience.The next step you want your customers to take should never be a mystery. Show them how your experience results in a happy ending, and then tell them how they can take the steps to get there.

Embody Your Story

Great stories surprise and delight people. They are unique, unexpected, and should challenge our perceptions of reality in some way. Just like your experience. Does your current experience have all the makings of a memorable story? With twists and turns and moments of wonder? Make sure every story you tell matches up with the experience you deliver. The most common cause of bad review and unhappy customers is unmet expectations. If your story is epic, your experience should be just as epic (if not more!).And there we have it! Perfecting the art of storytelling won’t happen overnight, and every single post won’t have a killer story behind it. But just getting into a storytelling mindset instead of a selling mindset makes all the difference.Start looking at social media marketing as storytelling instead of promotion. The more you understand people and the feelings they want, the more you’ll be able to create irresistible on and offline experiences that draw people in.Check out Samantha's website, Amore Social, for more great marketing tips and tricks and to find out more about Samantha's awesome services. Have you signed up for our SheTalks webinars yet? Register for live links and recordings here!

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