It’s not the tools that you use, it’s the stories that you tell…

It’s not the tools that you use, it’s the stories that you tell…

It’s not the tools that you use, it’s the stories that you tell…

A common worry I hear from organisations is “We don’t know which social media tools to use!” Often they spend a lot of time deliberating over whether it’s better to focus on Twitter or if Instagram will help generate them better awareness. Every time I hear this concern my answer remains the same:

Stop thinking about the where and start thinking about the why

Start putting your stories first

Of course it matter which tools you choose to use but often organisations are looking at the situation in the wrong order. Here’s how a typical conversation would:

“We need to get more followers on Twitter…we definitely need more people talking to us…we need to get more people to share our tweets….what shall we write about?”

This way of thinking is hard work. By thinking about the tools first, you are likely to start pushing any old content and why is that going to encourage new followers? Why would people bother sharing your content? If you haven’t thought about it, then why should they?

Start with the what and why

So how can you ensure you create quality content and engage your audience? Focus on what stories you have to tell and then (and only then) address how to best showcase them.

To do this – use a very simple 4 step process:

  1. The what – What are your objectives? Why do you want to engage with people on Twitter, Facebook etc? E.g. Is it to raise awareness of a specific cause? Is it to get donations? Or is it to sell a product or service
  2. The why – Why should people care? This is the most crucial part, you need to establish why people should care. For example, our content is important because 5 million people are dying of a disease and we want to raise awareness or we produce a great product/service that could revolutionise people’s lives etc.
  3. The how – How are you going to get the what and the why information out there? In other words how are you going to tell your story? E.g. through simple text, using a metaphor, using strong imagery, through a case study etc.
  4. The where – NOW you can think about where these stories you are going to tell should be promoted e.g. Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for example.

Why does this work?

To explain why this works let’s look at a recent example from the charity Girlguiding.

On 1st April the Girlguiding Twitter feed got taken over by minifigs (customised lego people). A bunch of miniature girl guides ‘took over’ the Girl Guides head office and subsequently their website and social media platforms.


Girlguiding tweet

The takeover played out over 3 hours and (according to Third Sector) produced 1600 mentions on Twitter (4 times higher than average) and reached 75k people on Facebook.

So why did Girlguiding do this? Primarily the story was told to announce their new partnership with which produces the little lego people and will now sell custom girl guide, brownie and scout figurines with 10% of sales going straight to Girlguiding.

This was so well handled by the Girlguiding digital team. Firstly they thought about the story and then they focused on the delivery and where it would be delivered. In the end they told their story across a variety of digital mediums including their website, blog, Twitter Facebook and Storify but why this worked so well is they followed the 4 Ws:

  1. What – Raise awareness of a new partnership
  2. Why – To help raise money for girl guiding
  3. How – By integrating the characters into an engaging and funny story (and tying in April the 1st by playing it out as a prank)
  4. Where – Choosing which platforms were most suited to this and what content should go where e.g. they only used their blog for speaking from the organisations point of view, giving the story longevity by creating a storify.


Having a presence on the major social media platforms isn’t enough. Your content is sitting alongside thousands of other pieces of content, all vying for people’s attention. Organisations who want to be noticed and engage with their audiences need to shift their thinking and focus on great storytelling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *