Using Storytelling in Marketing

by CHERYL GNAD on March 29, 2018

dreary view out of a window from a dark room

“It was a dark and dreary night and the wind was blowing in gusts that caused the leaves to fall off the trees and thrash across my window. It was the beginning of…..”

Using Storytelling in Marketing

to Tap into Your Customer’s Imagination


As a child, story time, or that part of the day when the teacher did some storytelling about something exciting that happened, was a time that would open the mind to all kinds of images in the imagination. It was very exciting! Often it was far better than any images shown you from the book. Right? You may even have found you and your friends reenacting the story or pretending to be the characters of the story! This is the essence of storytelling! This creates the same results in your marketing.

Using storytelling in your marketing will conjure up images or ideas that are REAL to the listener! It becomes THEIR STORY, not yours if done well.

Their problems are symbolized in YOUR telling of a story and the finding of an answer to a solution of a heartfelt problem they want to be solved. YOU became the problem-solver. Then your business becomes the go-to person or company for solving their “itch”. Now you benefitted, as long as your solution “matched” what they “envisioned”.

How to trigger their imaginations to work for you.

There are many ways to incorporate storytelling but one thing for sure is to not make it all about you and your accomplishments! Create stories that may have been yours but your problem is like THEIR problem and your solution is one that they can use in their own working out the solution. Elements that will help you trigger their imagination are:

  1. Bring your audience INTO the story – like THEY ARE THERE!
  2. Help your audience to engage with their emotions that stem from the story. Invite with words like – “imagine”, “can you see it?”, “visualize”, “picture this”, “create the dream of…”
  3. Stick to the “short and sweet”, don’t go into too many details. You will lose them. Give them 3 short details and then leave the rest to your audience’s imagination. Only give them what matters most.
  4. Spark their emotions – get their buy-in or support to solving the dilemma presented in the story.
  5. Be sensual – i.e. use SIGHT, SOUNDS, FEELINGS, and TASTE. Be very descriptive.
  6. Grab your audience’s attention by beginning in the MIDDLE of the story! This is where the interesting things are already happening! The audience will follow you to the beginning to figure out how they got there!

Also, consider having these five elements in your STORYTELLING.

Storytelling in Social Media

Social media is basically a conversation. However, you need to grab their attention with – a story! Marketing via social media is the same as using storytelling as a marketing tool in blogs, websites, emails or in conversation. In social media, the use of the video truly aids the work of your storytelling. The suggestions still apply!

Good stories are meant to surprise us. They make us think of how we would feel. Stories stick in our minds far better than numbers, statics or graphs! Create pictures!

Video Storytelling

Storytelling -Woman expressing herself with arms raised upI mention video storytelling because the video is becoming very predominant in our social media marketing. If using a video, determine the “mood” that you wish to create. Keep the story short for social media posts. Certain platforms have places for the videos and each has their own time limits. Apply adjectives, make that into a list. Choose an adjective or two and assign a color or location that seems to depict the mood. Set your dialog to resemble the idea that you are wishing to match. Be sure to take a variety of short videos so you can piece them into a sequence that will take the viewer through each step of the story. Don’t worry about making the ONE video shot do all the storytelling. A variety of angles and focus will help make the story happen during editing.


“You can upload videos with unlimited bitrates, up to 1 Gigabyte in size. The max file size and time length, though, are 1.75 GB and 45 minutes. But if you go beyond a 1 gig file size, then you must limit a 1080 HD upload file to a max bitrate of 8 Mbps, and a 720 HD file must be limited to a max bitrate of 4 Mbps.”                                   (

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads have a different “story” for their success. Here is a chart to help you figure out the optimum time or length of a video ad, which has become very popular. The shorter the better. See the chart below on Facebook videos.

Storytelling video - completion rates

Facebook LIVE videos

When you do your Facebook LIVE, it then will convert to a video recording automatically on Facebook. This is deemed the best form to get great engagement in Facebook. (NEW algorithm as of April 2018 caters to this). Facebook LIVE does its own conversion into a recording for you on Facebook. You will also note from the chart above that it gets the highest length watched – 44% dropped off after 30-60 sec. However, the greatest number of people, 46%, dropped off at < 15 sec.  Which is why Facebook created STORIES for up to 20 sec. – see below.

Facebook Stories

There are a variety of types on Facebook that enhances the engagement level. Facebook Stories will create short video clips. By adding to the story with short clips you create a “storyline” that will move from one clip to the next on Facebook. Compare Facebook to the other Stories of Instagram and SnapChat. Most Stories in each will last only 24 hours, then disappear, so be sure to cultivate them on a separate system to keep them for a future use.

  • Facebook  – 20-second clips
  • Instagram – 15-second clips
  • SnapChat  – 10-second clips


Live Video: 1 hour
Video Post to Your Instagram Profile: 1 min
Video Post to Your Instagram Story: 15 seconds


Keep your videos short. Under 3 minutes, but know that the first 30 sec. are crucial if you want your audience to watch more. Most will only watch the first 30 sec. so get the important message out by that time frame.


The most popular video form is those of Youtube. A video with good engagement and activity run between 1 – 10 minutes. A large window of time but it fits with the limited attention span of most views.

“On an average day… we found that in the top ten most popular YouTube videos, the shortest was 42 seconds, and the longest was 9 minutes and 15 seconds. The average video length was 4 minutes and 20 seconds,” reported MiniMatters.

A great article to read for further information on the video lengths for each platform is from Nishi Sood: How Long Should Your Video Be? 

Now you can see how each “video” supporting platform is using video. They KNOW that the attention/reach/and engagement are higher with video. Your message WITHIN your story has to be enticing to keep them and it needs to be delivered in the first 30 seconds in most cases! So, be sure to “get to the point” fast!

Longer videos

When you finally get the luxury of holding your audience’s attention with long videos, like for a popular series, a presentation, or coursework/webinar, you will want to set up your Story in this format.

  • Setting
  • Characters
  • Conflict
    • BIG IDEA
  • Solution/Resolution

(If done in a presentation, avoid using just bullet points. Those are boring! Again, the spewing of facts and data will soon put your audience to sleep! Tell a story!)

When doing a presentation or a talk on stage that shares about you – begin STORYTELLING!

  1. Tell as much as to who you are as much as what you do. What is your MISSION?
  2. Tell stories that MATTER!
  3. Tell STORIES that contain moments of EMPATHY and emotion!
  4. Tell the STORY in order for you to WIN! – Close the deal or bring about a business victory! This is the CTA (call to action) for your audience to consider.

Marketing via a video will be a huge part of your arsenal of reaching your customers. Video shows who you are in a much more intimate way. Connection via the emotions to their problem and bringing about a solution through YOUR expertise in a concise form, with a bit of education or entertainment, will grant you the success you desire. So are you “READY?” then “ACTION!”


 Change Happens! How to Stay In 


Your Audience’s Feed on Facebook


facebook change is comingFacebook is shaking up the social media marketing world AGAIN! Yes, now we will need to put on our creative hats and figure out how to stay in our audience’s feed and not get “shut OUT” of their feeds. With Reach and Engagement already languishing, this was a real blow! How will you manage your marketing now, and create the Reach and Engagement that keeps your business thriving online?

Recently, I did a post on Linkedin asking them what they used Facebook for. They had these options: A) friends and family, B) Entertainment, C) Education, D) Shopping or Bargains. Only one option was mentioned, for family and friends, and the other options they most often offered were – “I don’t use Facebook”. They already gave up on it because of some missing element for them. I do recognize that these were Linkedin users, so they have a different perspective on how social media should work for THEIR needs – and obviously, Facebook didn’t get it done.

Facebook will be soon limiting posts from your audience’s feed if your post is – too business oriented, has no interactions, offering only fluff, or click bait driven. They want to bring back the focus on “friends and family”. Let me ask – do you get MORE conversations on your personal profile or on your page? I will confidently say on your profile. Why is that? Because you are engaged with someone you are interested in, or because they offer you something you want! That offering could be a great article that will help you grow your business or yourself, a recipe and how to create great food, news about your family member, and something that makes you FEEL good!

How much of this will change?

Not much, actually! Facebook will STILL promote the same kind of things that you are seeing that attracts you to reading the posts! Again, they were –

  • Articles that inspire conversations
  • Posts that help you enjoy life more – recipes, how tos
  • Family news
  • Inspiration

I.e. what you must do is to – Entertain, Educate or Inspire! This is nothing new from what I (Social Focus by CG) have been coaching my clients to be doing!

Here is a quick list of things you can be doing. Facebook hasn’t made their changes with the algorithm yet, but you are seeing the drop in reach and engagement for those that are NOT doing what is mentioned above. This list might be just the ticket to staying in your audience’s feed. Time will tell.

Put These Steps To Work:

  1.  PLAN – create a content calendar. Have it make connected sense for the needs of your customer. Invite them to “stay tuned” for the next post. Also, see #4 below.
  2.  NO CHEATING – don’t BUY fans. Contests are fun, and easy but often attract those more interested in the prize rather than the topics covered by the Page. Not your customer, in other words. Any activity similar to this won’t work for you. Don’t do it. It is a waste of money – go for relationships instead of NUMBERS.
  3. CHECK OUT YOUR COMPETITORS – find a competitor who is nailing it! Are they doing something that might FIT you? Customize it to you and see!
  4. CUSTOMIZE YOUR POSTS TO EACH PLATFORM – not every platform works for you or your business. Fit the genre to the platform. Each one may serve different kinds of your customers, so speak to each type. Read – Pick the Social Media Platform That Brings You Results.
  5. HAVE A CURATION TOOL – collect articles of interest to your customer. How? With a tool that will Change Happens! How to stay in your audience's feed on you locate those types of articles. But remember – will these bring INTERACTION to your posts? The Publishing sources today are going to suffer big time because many don’t! My shared articles I have placed in my page aren’t getting any active engagement. Some will have click thru in order to read but that is it. Facebook will demote articles of no interaction.


Here are some great tools to help you stay in your audience’s feed —

a. Feedly

Change Happens! How to Stay In Your Audience’s Feed on FacebookThis app keeps the collection up to date with the latest blogs on topics of interest. A great organizing tool – articles are easy to find.





 b. Websites of consistent good content and healthy following. Add them to FEEDLY, see it above.

 c. Pinterest –

Change Happens! How to Stay In Your Audience’s Feed on Facebook

Build boards with favorite topics or blog/article authors, see how they are received and read by your Pinterest audience.








  Change Happens! How to Stay In Your Audience’s Feed on Facebook




e. Pocket –

Change Happens! How to Stay In Your Audience’s Feed on FacebookAnother app that helps you to collect great content for later use. Much like Evernote, see below.




f. FlipBoard

This platform finds articles that you’ve tagged as your interest and brings the articles together. Kind of like your own personal magazine, online.



g. Twitter – yes this is an awesome tool when searching with (#) hashtags!


Change Happens! How to Stay In Your Audience’s Feed on FacebookGreat for blog ideas and content finds!





i. Use Evernote

Change Happens! How to Stay In Your Audience’s Feed on FacebookTo clip and KEEP interesting content to use later for building great content and re-sharing content.








6. POST FORMATS – Test out different posting formats! Facebook is still loving VIDEO, but again, not the fluff videos of useless animals or just let it show up to be seen stuff. LIVE Video is TOPS on its list to content engagement still. Other formats to include – graphic visual pics that attract the eye – inspirational, for instance; more video – how to, travel tips, cooking tips; questions that encourage folks to respond. This area is really going to be tested to see what works. So stay tuned!

7. FACEBOOK COVERS – change out and test out the cover images to your page. This gets placed into people’s feeds readily, so make the best use of it to brand you, or announce an event, or just to shine!

Just know that there isn’t an EASY BUTTON  to make all of this just happen overnight. It will take work and listening to the experts for the best strategies. Facebook still has a plan – keep us on their platform and help us to share in each other’s lives. We can do that with – great content, great interactions with fans, family and friends, use their ad platform, incorporate other Facebook tools like Messenger and Instagram, and be real with one another!

Social Focus by CG is in touch with the national experts (Sandi Krakowski, Kim Garst, Social Media Examiner, Amy Portfield, just to name a few) – some by name even!! I receive regular training and updates on the social media trends. I am, also, a teacher at heart. I love to teach businesses how to stay in their audience feed and help them to have the mindset that ATTRACTS new customers, both online and off.

I offer workshops, online training, and in person training in social media marketing. I am also available to be your social media manager – helping you to integrate your total marketing to work together for YOU!

If you are seeking someone who would come to your office or do an online training for you personally, set up an intro meeting with me via

YES! Let’s Talk!  (click here for schedule)


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