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Nancy Schwartz 4 min read

Short-Form Stories Sizzle on Social Media


Editors Note: This week Frogloop is devoted to a blog series on storytelling. Nancy Schwartz, nonprofit marketing blogger, kicks off the series with Short-Form Stories Sizzle on Social Media.

How’s that for alliteration? More seriously though…

I’m in the midst of a storytelling deep dive, and some of the most memorable nonprofit stories I’ve found were shared on .org social media channels.

It’s really no surprise, given the nature of social media, that the best of the best tend to be short-form stories.

Less is usually more in any written product. When your word count is tight, you have to work even harder to shape a protagonist your reader relates to and the rich detail that enables her to feel what it’s like to stand in your protagonist’s shoes. So the result is frequently a better read.

Facebook storytelling is a natural, because it’s so quick and easy to share photos and videos. Narrative plus photos (or video) is the best combo there is. That’s why the first books kids read are picture books!

But there’s more—Facebook is confessional to the core, all about personal stories. So when organizations like yours feature people stories on your pages, it just makes sense. They’re just what Facebook users are seeing from their friends and family.

Add the ease of posting and sharing photos and videos that Facebook offers, and you get a powerful nonprofit storytelling channel.

Follow this strong model from the Findlay-Hancock Community Foundation, one of a group of natural storytellers I had the pleasure of training last week.

Text and photo stories like this one demystify the Foundation’s focus and impact (tough for every intermediary organization). This one does a quick, meaningful and memorable job of connecting the dots between the Foundation’s work and the value provided (by funded organizations) to those in the community. Great short-form storytelling!

I urge you to put short-form stories to work on your organization’s Facebook page and, when you’ve mastered your shortest stories (with photos) there, try 140-character tale telling on Twitter. If the Open Society Institute can do it, so can you:

P.S. There’s nothing new about short-form storytelling. Ernest Hemingway said that this  six-word story he wrote to win a bet—For Sale: baby shoes, never worn—was one of the hardest to write.

*Nancy Schwartz is a nonprofit marketing blogger, speaker and consultant with 15+ years of experience guiding organizations develop strategic communications to raise money, promote programs, change policies, build volunteer corps and build awareness. She blogs at www.gettingattention.org