4 Steps to a Winning Social Media Narrative

Most PR writing is like a snapshot in time, such as a new product that needs promotion via press release. But developing a social media narrative, or giving your social posts a sense of continuity for your audiences, requires a different mindset. Matthew Cannington, strategic content planner at Edelman, spells out some of the crucial differences.

Research Is Key.

The first step in developing your social narrative strategy is research. The development of key insights and behavioral observations of your audience, how it uses social media, where it is talking and what it is talking about, will help guide story choices.

In all likelihood, you have this information already in the form of audience personas that include demographic and psychographic data to help color details.

Establishing the social needs of your audience will help identify the creative portion of the social narrative strategy.

Find Your North Star.

Let’s start with the core premise of your brand’s story:

What is the brand trying to do in social? This idea can go by many names: ethos, North Star, code or core, but it’s the essence of the narrative. Everything that you create, that you talk about, post and respond with should ladder back to this one principle of what your brand is trying to accomplish.

Develop a Narrative Arc And Audience Takeaway.

Your story should also have an arc or multiple touch points in the protagonist’s journey. This narrative arc will take you through the life cycle of your content and showcase various ways that your story can come to life. Looking back at our favorite client, Brand X, we see that our story essence is “inspiring a better life.” But how can we tell that story in a narrative arc?

Brand X is known for encouraging a healthy lifestyle with the goal of living a better life. Our story arc goes from encouragement to empowerment to celebration.

Our creative and marketing teams then understand that all content must do one of three things: encourage fans to live their best life, empower fans by suggesting ways to live a better life, or celebrate those moments and people who are living a better life.

Plan for Real Life Scenarios.

Once you have established your brand’s social essence, narrative arc and audience effect, you should start to see how your story will come to life in social media through posts, tweets, pins, blogs, infographics, videos, images and more. But just to be sure creative and marketing teams can continually create content that fulfills this social narrative, there is another exercise to complete: scenario planning.

Using your existing social brand voice, which should encompass tone, word choice and voice dos and don’ts. Work with your creative and planning teams to craft sample content and recurring series across all of your active, and potential, social channels.

This also will give creative teams a head start in content creation if there are actual scenarios and series that they can follow. Make sure that your scenario planning takes into account how your brand and your audience use each social channel and establish a reason for being active on each of those platforms. This will help ensure that you aren’t publishing content just for the sake of doing so.

Source: Matthew Cannington is a strategic content planner at Edelman. The above is an excerpt from PR News’ Content Marketing Guidebook. To order a copy, please go to prnewsonline.com/prpress

This article originally appeared in the July 27, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.