Telling Stories with Social Media – Part Three

In part two we looked at four ways in which we can use social media to enhance our storytelling. In this third and final part we’ll consider the key benefit and share a few tips.

Stories Sell

We may not always like to acknowledge this, but a lot of what we do as learning and development professionals is about selling. We sell the benefits of different ways of doing something, we sell the concept of a new process, we sell people tools and techniques that can make them more effective or efficient.

What any good salesman know is that it’s not enough to just tell someone about the features of a product or service. The emphasis has to be on the benefits it will bring to the individual (and it’s worth remembering that only the most dedicated of employees will be interested in the benefits it brings to the organisation more than the benefits it brings to him!).

One of the most effective ways of selling the benefits is to do so in the form of a story, and most importantly that story needs the right context.

There are many ways that social media can help us with this, but here are a few ideas.

  • We can use it to publish stories about the benefits that the training has brought to other people who have completed it. Better still, we can use social media as a vehicle for those people tell those stories themselves
  • We might ask people to use a hashtag to identify posts about this particular topic and then pull together all of them into one place.
  • We may select more active posters and invite them to blog regularly about their experiences, to tell the story of applying their learning in the workplace.


If you want to use stories more in your social media activities, here are a few tips.

The heart of a good story is often personal experience, so get into the habit of sharing your experiences, good and bad. Learning from your own mistakes is good, but learning from other’s mistakes is even better. By sharing your own bad experiences you can become that other person for your audience to learn from. This may require a shift in mindset; publicising our mistakes may not come naturally.

It’s not just about our own stories though. We may have no experience of a particular subject, or someone else’s experience may be more relevant or useful, so get into the habit of collecting stories. Write them in a notebook, store them on online or make audio recordings, do whatever works best for you but just make sure you keep them somewhere. Sometimes it’s a good idea to keep a note of who told the story, but unless they give their permission to be mentioned you should probably make the story anonymous.

If you feel comfortable doing so, make use of video. It’s an incredibly powerful medium that can make a really strong connection with your audience. For some people it’s actually much easier to record a video that tells a story than it is to write that story down. It doesn’t have to be slickly produced; most smartphones have a good enough video camera for recording online content.

As well as using it to record ideas when you hear them, you may want to use audio as a way to share your stories. Services like AudioBoo are a great way to record and share short snippets, and if you want to produce something longer maybe you could consider producing a regular podcast.

Go on, tell your story.

About Barry Sampson

Barry Sampson has written 38 post in this blog.

Barry has a diverse background, having been a retail manager before moving into HR and then on to training and development. He spent time as a trainer and training manager before a move into learning technology in 2003. He's championed the adoption emerging tools for learning as a complement to traditional approaches.

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