Behavioral Storytelling: Social Media Content Strategy in Theory, Practice, and a Class

The brand insight is where a lot of teams stop with social, handing writers and designers a gaping void within which to structure a social media presence.

What results often times is either: 1) shoving traditional campaign structures into social networks, or 2) a big bowl of tactics that are stand alone gimmicks, giving neither the creators or brand managers a fair way to evaluate whether integrated campaign tactics actually do integrate. And when they do integrate, how do you create consistency without droning sameness?

To make sense of it all, to give teams a structure by which they can create ideas that build on each other, I made a bit of a simple, strategic mashup: First, take the 3-act storytelling structure that humans have been using for a few thousand years to relate and process information. Then, blend with Nielsen’s Participation Inequality Law, the rule of thumb that describes digital participation behaviors at scale.

What comes out is a way to look at campaigns where the launch / event / purchase isn’t the end of the story, or the beginning. It should be where it belongs: at the climax of the story. That allows the ending of your arc to be the resolution of your audience members succeeding: the behavioral outcome that could not have occurred without the brand having facilitated it.

But that only gets us as far as campaign content, and campaigns in social aren’t enough.

To truly model out and encourage positive behaviors, you need to be actively facilitating the community. The Participation Framework makes sure that your brand’s declarative statements are balanced as part of a mix that balances content and conversation.

Because people engaging with the brand is a means to an end: people using the brand as a setting to strengthen relationships with each other. Again, positive community behaviors are what you’re shooting for. It’s these behaviors that will ultimately determine the social success of a brand.

For more detail on how Behavioral Storytelling works, check out the presentation delivered at ContentCamp:

If you’re wondering how you can use structures like this to make the difference for your brand, join me at General Assembly in NYC for a class on June 4, or I can work with a number of different teams in your organization: as a speaker or consultant.

What’s your take on social content strategy? Drop a note below in the comments or on twitter @mleis.


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