Five Tips on Using Storytelling for Community Management

storytellingAudi’s 2013 Super Bowl ad features a high school student going stag to the prom.

Upon receiving the keys to a new Audi S6 by his father in the driveway, he felt empowered enough to approach a girl and kiss her.

The ad makes great use of storytelling to market its brand.

Community managers may be able to make similar use as a means to interact with members, further engage with them and build their brand.

As Hessie Jones, CEO of ArCompany notes, “compelling storytelling is the foundation for building strong social relationships and brand advocacy. Persuasive, shareable, and detailed, your brand’s story will create deep consumer connections.”

Jones and a host of other digital media folks were part of a panel on using storytelling for content marketing at PodCamp Toronto, Canada’s largest gathering of digital media professionals, in February.

“People are moved by emotion and the power of the narrative allows individuals to emotionally connect to an object or event,” Jones adds further.

For Stutter Social, an international online community that uses Google+ Hangouts to connect people who stutter worldwide, we also blog about our participants and share their stories. We interview them, and share their stories and experiences as they relate to Stutter Social. Essentially, we advocate the brand through their stories.

Here are five tips on using storytelling for community management:

1. Incorporate human interest.

Profile a specific member of your community and share their story on your blog or social media channels. Introduce who they are, and share their thoughts and feelings. Simply put, allow your audience to get to know them. Human interest stories often make for compelling content as audiences can relate to them and it can appeal to their emotions. In the case of its Super Bowl ad, that’s exactly what Audi did by featuring a situation we know too well: high school prom.

2. Show, don’t tell.

I first learned this in my journalism experience and I apply it as a community manager as well. Instead of telling us that a member benefits from your community, show us. Use a variety of anecdotes or specific experiences to illustrate the point, instead of simply of saying it.

3. Let the story communicate what your brand, product or community is all about.

Jones says that the story should be the focus, while “the product is merely a supporting role.” In our Stutter Social blog stories, we do just that – focus on the story that we’re telling. Instead of explaining to folks who stutter what they can get out of the Stutter Social community, we let the blog stories do it for us. However, it’s important that the brand’s values are still reflected in the story.

4. Interview your community members and quote them.

First of all, it’s how you elicit their stories. But taking the time to chat with them, ask them questions and get their experiences makes them feel valued. Furthermore, quoting them in the story adds their voice as well, making it more authentic.

5. Invite members to share their own stories.

Better yet, another option is to have them share it themselves either through guest blog posts, Q&A’s, videos or other means. Not only does this diversify your content and make it more creative, it also allows for user-generated content. I’m sure community members would love the opportunity to share their stories. You’re giving them a voice.

Photo credit: Daniele Rossi

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About the author

Samuel Dunsiger

Samuel is a freelance writer and communicator from Toronto. As a journalist, he covers a range of topics such as occupational health and safety, education and technology. Samuel also freelances for Coderella Consulting, a San Francisco-based PR agency and, in his spare time, serves as Communications Director for Stutter Social, an international online community that uses Google+ Hangouts to connect people who stutter worldwide.