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Shonali Burke Shares Her Keys to Social Media Storytelling

When it comes to tips on social media storytelling, look no further than to Shonali Burke, who works with some of the most influential brands and nonprofits

When it comes to tips on social media storytelling, look no further than to Shonali Burke, who works with some of the most influential brands and nonprofits

The emergence of blogs and social media in the last 10 years or so has created almost limitless avenues for publishing stories. But what hasn’t changed is the importance of telling good stories, especially when it comes to a brand’s master narrative.

Shonali Burke knows the value of social media storytelling and how to leverage its power on various channels. She’s president and CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. and has provided public relations consulting to noteworthy organizations such as USA for UNHCR.

She’s also founder and curator of the popular #measurePR hashtag and Twitter chat.

When it comes to offering best tips for social media storytelling, look no further than to Shonali, who recently presented a PRSA webinar titled “Storytelling Techniques to Reach Your Stakeholders.” There, she noted her appreciation of social media’s value and how it can build a community with what she calls “social PR.”

The art of storytelling on social media


Photo courtesy of Geoff Livingston https://www.flickr.com/photos/geoliv/5041452015/

“Social PR harnesses the community-building power of social media and integrates it with data-driven, measurable public relations to build, educate and motivate communities for better business results,” Shonali explained.

She notes that people often talk about generating buzz. However, it’s important to not get caught up in buzz and instead focus on the content creation and its value to your audience. “Buzz is generated by bees, whereas people talk, share, and act,” Shonali said.

According to Shonali, there are “three C’s” of social media storytelling: content, conversation and community.

“Without good content, you can’t produce a good story,” Shonali added. “If you don’t have people talking about your content, it’s really hard to disseminate it. That’s where you have to focus on building a community.”


Adding value to cross media storytelling


Photo courtesy of Cision Global https://www.flickr.com/photos/vocus/15259315561/

Shonali said that when selecting a good story, you need to provide value for your audience.

For example, several years ago Shonali provided PR consulting for USA for UNHCR, an organization focused on raising funds and awareness around refugees, in implementing the Blue Key campaign.

The campaign focused on the concept of a key, since refugees do not have keys to their own homes, and the organization sold blue key pins and pendants for $5. The idea behind this was that after people bought a key and displayed it, the gesture would start conversations around the plight of refugees.

Plus, the campaign also brought together a group of bloggers called “Blue Key Champions” to give a voice to the refugees. The bloggers were asked to purchase a key and write one blog post, on any site, about the campaign.

The bloggers got extremely involved, and after learning more about USA for UNHCR’s goals, they were motivated to move the campaign forward. They suggested ideas, such as a tweetathon, to continue the conversation, which also resulted in a significant increase of key purchases. The campaign met their goal of 6,000 key purchases that year, and they also recruited more than 70 bloggers as Blue Key Champions, which was another important metric.

The campaign not only sold countless keys, created an active community, and built a list of prospective donors, but it showed that a solid narrative can have a serious impact when it’s done the right way, with great content and top-notch social media storytelling.

Feature photo courtesy of Geoff Livingston https://www.flickr.com/photos/geoliv/5041452015/


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