How to write engaging stories for social media

Dave Harland, Copywriter

DaVe Harland, The Word Man

Great copy can be the difference between making a sale, or not converting at all. Compelling someone to act, or losing them forever.

Dave Harland has dedicated his professional life to writing great copy: and he does it so well!

In this talk, Dave shares his tips and tricks for writing great copy for social media.

Write up provided with a big help from Amon Kiplagat & Hannah Silverstein – thank you!!

How to write engaging stories for social media, with Dave Harland, The Word Man

“Roads, Where we’re going, we don’t need Roads”. This classic line from Back to the Future.

This line is a really nice link to this talk because if you’re a marketer who’s never really studied the ins and outs of storytelling, and you type into google “storytelling for marketers” or “brand storytelling” it can all get overwhelming fast. You’ll see people talking about things like:

  • Story arcs
  • And narratives
  • And characters
  • And conflict
  • And climax

And a load of stuff it takes ages to really get your head around.

But if you just want to jump right in, you just need to know how to do a catchy beginning, an interesting middle and a solid ending – the basic stuff, that you learnt in primary school. So that’s what Dave shared – some dead easy methods to get that three-part structure right.

So let’s establish upfront – what makes a story engaging?

  • It captures attention – opening with a strong hook
  • It makes people read to the end – Keep the level of interest right the way to the end
  • Get them to do something, feel something or think something – Make the reader take some type of action or learn something new.
  • Make your stories about your readers unless you can make it weird
  • Stop trying to do too much with your stories, focus on one thing and do it well.

Why is storytelling useful on social media?

  • It doesn’t feel like selling – takes a way the pressure of selling
  • Makes your boring stuff exciting – No one cares about your products
  • People remember stories – Weave them into a nice narrative your customers will never forget
  • Plus there’re stories in everything – never ever run out of material

What makes a social media post ‘engaging’?

It’s a bit of a buzzword. Someone’s probably said it to you at one time or another “our stuff needs to be more engaging”.

However, in its simplest terms, engaging social media stories all have these three elements…

  • Captures attention – Open with a strong hook
  • Makes people read to the end – Keep the level of interest right the way to the end
  • Get them to do something, feel something or think something – Make the reader take some type of action or learn something new.

Formula to Engaging Storytelling

  • Start with an unusual quote. – Funny, intriguing, relatable, obscure.
    • Add quotes it makes things little more believe-able, Change opinions & make quotes funny.
  • Explain what it means in a relatable way.
    • Keep your language simple.
    • And use selectively descriptive adjectives to make stories more vivid.
  • Make the penny drop and go in for the kill – give the knockout punch 🙂

The formula for storytelling


Building an analogy for a story

  • What people is your customer having?
  • Go specific on one thing that solves it.
  • Make up a scenario where you can illustrate the importance of that one thing.
  • Create a setting for it and some characters. – Bring it to life and make it real
  • Be randomly strange – Keep people guessing to keep them engaging. – Add a bit more intrigue

How to write an engaging story

Why no CTA in stories

  • Positions you as the expert. – Giving your advice for free
  • Build trust – People learn and grow to trust you.
  • People get in touch when they’re ready – Leave the decision on the readers court when they are ready to buy.
  • Stops you sounding too salesy. – Can help elevate your value

Where to find inspiration for your stories

How to find inspiration for stories



This event was live on 30 Mar 2021, 08:30

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