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Everywhere you look everyone is talking about the benefits of social media storytelling in business to attract and engage your audience. Storytelling is by no means new – I mean it's been around since the dawn of time but when it's done really well, especially when there is an abundance of content; then it can really help you stand out from the crowd.  So on Thursday 22nd June, The Connection Exchange hosted an event for our members and community at Speakeasy Kitchen and Bar in South Yarra, Melbourne on this very topic. Our fabulous speaker panel included Karen Hollenbach of Think Bespoke a LinkedIn trainer and one of the most consistent content creators I know.  Serena O'Brien the founder and head social media genie at Speakout Social.  Serena has marketing experience at both corporate and SME level studied social media marketing and is now plodding her way through a Masters of Digital Media. A social media manager ninja for her clients, Serena is great at making social media simple! Our third panellist, Kate Ware is the founder of Buzzpop Social – a boutique digital marketing agency combining new-school thinking with old-school service. Buzzpop helps find, build and nurture the communities that drive growth in business – whether you’re an #ontrend startup or a well-established brand.

The event was great and there was so much discussion on the evening around what people love and what they don't, what works and what doesn't and who's doing it well, so I wanted to share some of our speaker's insights with you on the blog!  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments as well!

What does storytelling mean to you?

Putting a person at the front of a business or brand and sharing insights related to the brand from a human perspective.
Ensuring you have a human and heartfelt approach to telling or sharing. Just as an autobiography would have light and shade, humour and seriousness, so too can a brand telling their story on social media.
Signing up for the long haul and being committed to the long game. I don't see storytelling on social media as an on-off. It's about telling tiny snippets over time, which come together as a rich, more meaningful and interesting story.
Storytelling on social media is a journey for me. It’s telling the story of your business, how you came to be in business, what you want to achieve from your business, what your business does for others etc.
It has to have chapter 1 to get to chapter 20. So in saying this, I’m saying it’s ok for your story to change, your why, purpose, services, message etc. to change as your story develops.
Social media is a great place to start your story and develop elements of your business that will help you put together a strong brand, message & strategy.


Storytelling is about adding value to my community by sharing insights that are relevant to where they are at and what they need from me. From time to time I will also give my community an insight into my fears, beliefs or my personal journey as an ambivert or what I do when I am feeling lost. Sharing these more personal insights has become a bit like therapy and it’s sometimes as much for me as it is for others. For LinkedIn, it’s a lot about ‘How To’ and to help people get comfortable with LinkedIn.I generally write like talk and like to help my potential clients imagine what it would be like to be in a conversation with me. I visualise my ideal client whenever I write a LinkedIn article or share a LinkedIn post. I am strategic and do not share anything just for the sake of it. There’s always a bigger picture. It’s like a game of chess.


Where and how do I start?

Start with where you feel comfortable. Social storytelling can often mean the blurring of the lines between business and personal life. You don't have to share every tiny detail of your personal life if you are not comfortable with it. If you understand where you want to draw the line between the two, you will feel more confident to begin. It's just like ripping off a bandaid – just start! As with any new venture, you will begin to feel more comfortable with telling your story the more you do it.
Just start. As above, everyone starts in chapter 1 before they get to chapter 20.
Don’t wait for perfection and all your ducks to be in a row before starting. Just get out there, imperfections and all.
When I started I didn’t have a website, logo, message, target market or even services sorted out. I built my business on social media for over a year without a website.  I used social media as a way to firstly build my audience and a community, find out who I liked engaging with and the types of people who were attracted to me, and from there I developed my target market, message and services (based on what they needed and what I love to do).  From there I could develop a visual brand.
My story is still changing, evolving, developing.
Decide your favourite format. e.g. write it down (blog), a photo (Instagram), a video (Facebook Live)
No shoulds.
There’s one of two ways you can approach it and it depends on what pushes you to action:


  1. What feels comfortable OR
  2. What scares you?

What works with your schedule, technology and capability are also key considerations. I’m self-taught across all platforms except Facebook.

Who does it well

Suz – The Connection Exchange. She knows her boundaries and where her line is between business and personal.
Jess Rufus – Collabosaurus. She's front and centre of her brand and maximises telling the Collabosaurus brand story on Insta Stories
Jo Wise – Jo Wise Leadership. Uses Instagram selfies a lot which makes me feel like I know her.
Bloggers are great inspiration for how to tell a story, as they ARE their brand. Look at Baby Mac or Elle Ferguson from They All Hate Us.
Table Tonic – Louise Bell. She's a perfect example of how you can tell a story and put a human face to a retail store

My number one Aussie brand is Go-To Skincare. I think they have their brand voice nailed across, social, emails, website, product.  They don’t promote a lot on their social channels either and spend a lot of time just relating to their audience and using humour in their copywriting.

I need things to shift inside my brain or heart for it to be good and this does not happen very often. Good storytelling is normally discovered via authors of the books I’ve read, the most recent being Museum of Modern Love, Heather Rose.I was recently moved by a story shared by a close colleague and Think Bespoke’s Social Media Consultant, Debbie Hatswell. Debbie runs an online bookstore, Story Mama, for children aged 0-9. Debbie’s About Us page tells a lovely story, which I heard her share recently at the Monash Business Awards. Story Mama is a finalist in the Micro Business category and Debbie had two minutes to tell us about her specialist online bookstore. Here’s an excerpt of what she shared:


As a child, I could often be found finishing off a Nancy Drew novel or a Famous Five story under my doona with a torch, long after I was supposed to have turned off the light. Books were always the way I wound down after a busy day; reading was what I did to relax and where I looked for answers to the things I didn’t know.

Exploring foreign countries and meeting interesting characters through books also gave me a burning desire to see the world, which I was lucky enough to do after university. Travel guides then became my new book fetish. I poured through the pages of exotic sites and imagined myself in each of them.

When the call to come home was too strong to resist, I thought I ought to put my degree to some use. I worked my way up the ranks at one of the big 4 Aussie banks, and enjoyed running a team and a business unit. By 2012 though, I began to struggle. Fighting with ferocious mother guilt left me feeling conflicted and unfulfilled. So I embraced my inner corporate-drop-out and joyfully jumped on the entrepreneur bandwagon.

I also enjoy reading Louise Weigall’s Instagram feed. Louise is a Style Consultant, the founder of Style with Substance and worked with me to develop outfits for a branding photoshoot I did earlier this year with Fi Mims Photography.

When you're putting the story together – what do you think about

– Your boundaries: what are you comfortable sharing
– Your audience: what is it that they want to see? What are they interested in?
– How do your audience want to consume content from you? ie. video, long-form blog posts, photos?
– What are your own capabilities? (good at writing? or comfortable in front of the camera?)
– What can you commit to in terms of time? (Some channels are more time consuming than others)
What you love doing
Who you love doing it with
Basic message or purpose
All of these can be developed and further fleshed out by using social media as a community builder.

Top 3 strategies to increase audience and engagement / Which post do best?

– Post consistently and regularly
– Be social: talk to and connect with others
– Be authentic (hello, buzzword!): stay true to who you are and your values. Your story will come across as genuine and relatable if you are speaking your truth 🙂
Being authentic, real, show your personality, humour to start with. This will help you to see the types of people you attract and the types of people you like engaging with.
After that, consider what you love doing and how you can help the types of people you are attracting.
From there you can tailor your message, services, purpose etc. for your audience so that you are giving them what they need

Generally, the posts that have nothing to do with your business, and purely relate to your audience do the best. Doing the best, for me means high levels of engagement – likes and comments.
Humorous, personality-filled posts that your audience can relate to or show them a bit more about you.
Generally, in my experience, promotional posts perform the worst.

Depends on the platform. Depends on the brand. Depends on your goals.
What does ‘do better’ mean? Clicks to website, engagement, bookings?
Get inside people’s heads – that’s my goal.LinkedIn – How To (for me). For others, it’s being contentious. There are lots of stats on the power of LinkedIn for B2B conversion. Industry news and updates seem to rank the highest. I think it depends on your audience and what you are trying to achieve. Instagram – Pictures of me and me sharing insight about me seem to do the best. As a lover of the written word, I found the idea of sharing pics of me very uncomfortable at first, but now that I understand that Instagram is also about getting to know the person behind the brand, I am more comfortable with sharing pics of me.
To read Karen's original post on this head over here.
Huge thanks to our speakers and to everyone who attended on the evening, it was such a great night and we love bringing our community together to learn, connect and collaborate on a regular basis.  These tips are so great and we loved the different viewpoints of our panel.

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