A few months ago, I read an amazing story about Megan Amram, a comedian who tweeted her way into a job as a writer for the hit NBC show Parks and Recreation. I opened up her Twitter feed to see what the buzz was about and started reading. That’s when something unusual happened.
I couldn’t stop laughing.
Most of the posts I read were irreverent (ex: “I hardly buy things, but when I do it’s PRODUCTS ™ (SPONSORED TWEET)”) – pretty standard stuff for a comedian. But a few dozen tweets in, I noticed something unusual: a series of tongue-in-cheek posts about a lost roll of masking tape (Spoiler Alert: The tape was on her wrist the entire time). I found myself looking at photos, reading her blog entries about the tape, and even retweeting from her feed.
This got me thinking: apart from funny one-liners, how does Amram engage so effectively with her 370K followers?
The answer, once again, is storytelling.
To help you tell great stories on Twitter and social media in general, here are “5 Tips for Telling Stories on Social Media”. You may not gain millions of followers overnight, but you’ll at least be able to find the masking tape on your wrist.
1. Start with a problem. I’ve mentioned this before on this blog, but it bares repeating: all good stories need a problem. The problem doesn’t have to be life or death, but it should be specific and easy to understand. Maybe you were stuck on a train home from the beach with a preacher who wouldn’t leave you alone. Maybe you couldn’t find an open restaurant in midtown at 10 PM. Maybe you lost your masking tape. Whatever the issue, just remember that you only have a limited amount of space on social media, so keep the post short and simple. If you absolutely need more space, one workaround is to link to a blog that illuminates the problem in more detail.
2. Find your character. Amram is so successful on Twitter because she tweets and responds completely in character. Whether you’re telling a personal story or using social media to tell a larger company saga, it’s important to maintain a consistent voice. One way to find your voice on social media is to answer the question: What does your character want in this situation? Once you know what the character wants (i.e. a good meal late at night), play around with the tone of the posts until it feels honest.
3. Build tension. After you’ve discovered the character’s voice, heighten the tension with each successive post. Use short posts to keep your audience on their toes. Introduce new pieces of information. In Amram’s case, she uses photos of her posters and daily entries to keep people updated on the tape saga. Photos are an easy way to build tension and add specificity without losing your audience.
4. Provide a resolution. Once you’ve built the tension to it’s highest point, provide some resolution. This could be a tweet or Facebook post that references a blog entry, a video or even a series of photos. It’s important to resolve the problem definitively. If you don’t satisfy your followers, they may turn on you and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a Twitter war.
5. Hint at a future problem. One way to keep the conversation after the story is resolved is to hint at a future problem with a final joke or suggestive line. In comedy, this is known as a tag. This is a chance for your followers to continue the conversation with you, so make sure to keep it brief. Your followers will thank you for it.
Feeling a little more social?