Famous authors and green bananas: 5 tips to epic social media storytelling

Ernest Hemingway—some would say he was the greatest storyteller of his time. My grandfather grew up with him in Oak Park, IL in the early 1900s. I always loved his writing and thought it was cool to have that (distant) connection. Hemingway was known for his concise yet illustrative, artistic yet stick-to-the-facts style of description. Lore has it he once made a $10 bet with friends over lunch that he could write a novel in just 6 words. On a napkin, he scribbled, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn,” passed it around and promptly collected his earnings.

Hemingway was a genius at not only having a story to tell—we all have stories to tell—but at telling his stories well. He couldn’t have known it then, but perhaps the nickname ‘Papa’ was foretelling that his popular and concise writing was leading to something that would eventually become our social media.

Credit unions–being the cooperative, people-before-profit, socially responsible organizations that they are–have stories to tell that resonate with people like never before. I have no doubt about the caliber, quality, quantity and realness of the credit union movement’s stories. But a great story with no ears to hear it is like a tree falling in the forest.

To credit unions, I say this: keep collecting, documenting and telling your stories. But when it comes to telling your stories more effectively on social media–the fastest and most effective means of spreading information today–try these 5 tactics to inject a boost of power behind your stories:

  1. Audience: Know and grow your social media audience.
    Any author just starting to write a novel will have in mind for whom she writes the story. Think about who your organization speaks to and scan your current followers to see if they match up. Then search for key words or do an Advanced search on Twitter to follow individuals and businesses in your credit unions’ geographic area. Find and follow local organizations and businesses on Facebook, too. Look at Facebook Insights to see when your current followers are most active on the platform. Take a look at a few of your followers’ accounts each day to learn more about them, listen and discover their needs. Empathize with their needs through the types of products you offer and the way you communicate to them.
  2. Execution: Audit behaviors and target better ones.
    When writing a novel, you’d know your genre and what it takes to be successful in it. Audit your social media postings to gauge if your cadence is right. Too much, too little and inconsistent posting can be undesirable for your audience. Look into Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to see your posting frequency historically and decide if you need to change it. Ideally, brands post at least 3-5 times per week on Facebook and Instagram, 5-8 times per day on Twitter and 2-4 times per week on LinkedIn. Make sure you have the right balance of types of posts too: re-shared content, original content, links, pictures, videos.
  3. Content: Review and develop a plan for more original content.
    An author’s fans crave more original work because they dig his style and voice. Dig into your Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to see your highest and lowest performing posts over the past year. Replicate what’s been most popular and avoid what doesn’t work. Create a plan to effectively create more of the good stuff, especially blog posts, videos, even podcasts. Be your brand in all you do—whether your style is formal, informal, serious, quirky, friendly—find your niche tone and make it known across all platforms.
  4. Measurement: map to organizational objectives.
    A good author has a goal in mind—be it to pay the bills, get on a best seller list or simply have a creative outlet. In social media, defining what success looks like before you execute helps you determine how important and valuable the work is. Know your organizational or marketing objectives and goals so you know what numbers and metrics to map to on social. Don’t obsess on ‘vanity metrics’ over signs of true engagement. Awareness, participation and engagement both on platform and off are good results to measure with social media being the driver.
  5. Pay to Play: monitor organic reach and invest in social boosts.
    It’s not free for an author to have a publisher or go on a book tour – but it sure is effective for selling a book. Once you have done all you can to maximize organic reach by growing the right audience, shaping up how you execute on social, targeting your content to what your audience desires and honing and adjusting through measurement tracking, it’s time to up your game with social media advertising. For as little as $5-20 you can start small to test how well it works. On Facebook you can run an ad to boost your post message, get more people to like your page or drive traffic to your website. The key to success is targeting the right audience and knowing what action you want them to take.

Effective and powerful storytelling has always been important, but with social media as it is today, it has never been so clear that the way we tell our stories is as important as our stories themselves.

When visiting my grandfather as a little girl, he would say the same phrase each morning with a smile and twinkle in his eye: “Never buy green bananas…” Silly as it was, that was his ‘personal brand’ story and he stuck to it– and those words have since stuck with me. Perhaps it was in the artistry of how he told it, each morning as he jovially cracked open the skin of a perfectly unblemished bright yellow banana.

Learn how Filene can help you tell epic stories on social media.

Holly Fearing

Holly Fearing

Holly lives and breathes social media; if you can’t find her IRL, try reaching out on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, and you’ll likely get her right away. ... Web: www.filene.org Details