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Emotional Storytelling Tactics to Drive Results on Social Media

Want to make your brand instantly more likable on social media? Learning how to use emotional storytelling tactics on social media is the key to building connections that drive results.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it for as long as I have to: Stop selling. Start storytelling.

I gave you a taste of this idea in 5 Storytelling Secrets You Can Use to Boost Sales, where you learned about storytelling techniques like the hero’s journey and sharing your why.

Now it’s time to dive deeper into the details.

In this, the second part of a three-part series, I’ll explore emotional storytelling tactics to pair with those techniques. Consider these tactics the secret sauce in your content strategy that can help you:

  • Create a brand narrative that defines your brand identity
  • Become unforgettable and irresistible
  • Motivate your audience to champion your brand
  • Tap into psychological principles to spark emotional responses

It’s all possible when you commit to getting real with your audience and make the choice to check your promotional baggage at the door.

What Is Emotional Storytelling?

With emotional storytelling, it’s not simply about creating tear-jerking content that has your audience grabbing for a box of tissues.

Of course, there’s a place for that type of content, if that’s your brand’s main objective. However, emotional storytelling may elicit a range of emotions — from happiness or excitement to anger or fear.

You can think of emotional storytelling as the type of content that you could visualize with a facial expression. It doesn’t focus on features and benefits; instead, it leverages the one characteristic we all share on this planet: the human experience.

To put things another way, emotional storytelling gives words and visuals to the feelings that people associate with a brand.

One popular example of a brand mastering emotional storytelling is Nike. We all know the “Just Do It” narrative that Nike popularized before social media even existed. It isn’t just a slogan; it’s a lifestyle for Nike (and fitness) enthusiasts.

how to use emotional storytelling on social media with a nike ad showing a lady running

Now, the brand has taken to social initiatives like gender equality with videos like Dream Crazier highlighting female athletes.

You can create those kinds of emotional connections, too. Take your pick from the tactics below to start approaching your posts with emotional intelligence and creating stories that not only tug at the heartstrings but also leave a lasting impact on your followers.

How to Use Emotional Storytelling in Social Content

Add Impactful Visuals

The Dream Crazier video linked above highlights women pushing boundaries in sports while a voiceover reminds viewers of the power of “crazy” dreams like running a marathon — dreams that came true in spite of female stereotypes.

Similarly, Intel celebrates women in STEM in various ways, whether spotlighting historical female coders or bringing awareness to women on its engineering team.

an instagram post by intel celebrating women

These kinds of visuals are what the Bonn Institute, a type of journalism think tank, calls entry points to stories. These entry points impact whether users pause, click, like, share, and comment. They also add meaning and affect people’s ability to remember a post. The brain processes imagery much quicker and more powerfully than words alone, making photos and videos essential components for emotional storytelling.

Incorporate Color Psychology

Have you ever thought about the reasons behind your color preferences — why you drive a red car, for example, or why you painted your bedroom blue? The rush of a red car is much different than the spalike serenity of a blue duvet — something you instinctively know when you choose colors for various purposes.

Color works the same way on social media, evoking emotions and creating emotional connections with your audience. How does it work? Social Media Today reports the following:

  • Red increases pulse rates and blood pressure.
  • Orange enhances circulation, potentially sending more oxygen to the brain and boosting productivity.
  • Yellow may stimulate a hunger response.
  • Green may lower the heart rate.
  • People with blue bedrooms wake up happy.
  • Purple is the color of choice for children.

color psychology chart
Translated into social media marketing, you can pair the use of color with your campaigns. For example, when you want to drive home the excitement of a product or service, red might be your color of choice for visuals. If you’re creating crave-worthy content promoting your latest restaurant dish, a dash of yellow may be called for.

You can also use complementary colors to add visual interest and create balance in your posts. Have fun with it, and experiment to find out which colors speak to your audience.

Leverage User-Generated Content

Nothing tells a story like user-generated content (UGC) — the firsthand accounts of experiences with your brand. When customers share their testimonials about your products and services, it lends credibility to your brand, building trust with your followers and prospects (more on this in the next section).

reviews for big barker
So, how can you encourage UGC? First and foremost, create content that resonates emotionally with your audience, compelling them to share it with their followers and create additional content about your brand.

From there, you can incorporate various strategies to broaden your posts’ reach, such as the following:

  • Share promotional offers and discount codes with customers, influencers, and employee advocates.
  • Create contests where your followers must tag your brand and a few friends, like your page, and share your post. Announce winners on your social channels, and don’t forget to tag them to encourage shares!
  • Share UGC on your Instagram and Facebook stories when users tag your brand.
  • Invite your followers to share real-life stories about how your products or services have impacted them.
  • Ask your community for feedback on new product or service innovations.

It’s worth the effort. In one survey of U.S. consumers, 84% of respondents said they’d be more likely to trust brands incorporating UGC into their marketing initiatives.

UGC impacts conversion rates, too, with research showing an 8.5% lift in conversions for websites where visitors see UGC on product pages.

Employ Psychological Triggers

Psychological triggers can be powerful emotional tools to encourage audiences to take action. I’m not saying you should engage in fear-mongering, but a little emotional nudge can go a long way toward inspiring audiences to take the next step, whatever that may be.

Psychological triggers can include:

  • Fear of missing out: Inspiring the dread that accompanies feeling like everyone else is doing something or buying something
  • Scarcity mindset: Invoking the fear that something is in limited supply
  • Exclusive invitations and offers: Integrating limited-time offers, personalized invitations, countdown timers, abandoned-cart emails, and other tailored or time-sensitive content
  • Social proof: Demonstrating that other people like your brand through UGC, reviews, and customer testimonials

What does a psychological trigger look like in action? I like the example of the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino.

starbucks frappuccino

The company brilliantly announced the colorful drink would only be available for a few days, and lo and behold, the drink sold out within day one.

I’d venture to guess that it wasn’t the taste of the drink alone that inspired the mass sales but rather the desire to be part of a cultural phenomenon — and, likely, to snap a selfie or two.

I Second That Emotion

Whether you want to get your audience all choked up or leave them skipping through daisy fields for the rest of the day, the choice is yours when it comes to emotional storytelling.

Pair these tactics with the storytelling techniques in part one of this series, and soon, you’ll be a storytelling machine.

You may even wind up with loyal customers eager to share your story for you, increasing your reach and, potentially, your revenue.

Now there’s a story worth telling.

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