As the founder of a company that advises on the communications strategy of non-profits and small businesses, I often hear prospective clients express that they want better, more meaningful engagement on social and digital platforms. The problem is, they don’t fully understand why. They don’t know how to explain why they want better engagement and why it matters. They’re simply following what they’ve been told instead of understanding the importance of engagement.

When I have these conversations with clients I ask them not to look at social media as simply a social network, but a storytelling platform. For organizations that rely on the financial participation of their audience, the ability to tell a story is essential to success.

Non-profits and small businesses need to refresh themselves on how to craft compelling narratives. Here’s how you can harness the power of storytelling to increase engagement for your organization.

1. Build A Culture Of Storytelling

Stories are all around us, from the news to blogs to social media. Your staff and audience are interacting with stories that are relevant to your cause or goals on a daily basis. Why not use these pieces of content to enhance your storytelling? Your entire team should be searching for relevant, shareable stories that are in line with your vision and mission. This is not an easy ask when everyone has a laundry list of tasks on their to-do list, but it is instrumental in rounding out your organization’s story for digital.

TIP: Take time out every week for your employees to share any content they’ve consumed that they find relevant to your goals. Ask them what books they’ve read lately, what television shows they’re watching or what’s something interesting they saw on the news. Impactful, shareable stories can come from a wide range of places so don’t limit yourself to just one outlet. If you have the budget, consider hiring a part-timer (or agency) to scour the web for relevant content to review with your team and find ways to share that content on your social media profiles.


2. Make Sure Your Audience Can Relate

One of the biggest mistakes I see made on social media is that the content that is developed for an organizations platform does not match what the organization is about. Their content reflects a lot of asks and requests from the organization (i.e: Attend this event. Donate to this cause. Buy this service.) instead of telling a story that will compel the consumer to engage.

Your audience feels a connection with your cause or product because they find something relatable and contextual. People donate to charities because they have witnessed, either first hand or through storytelling, the effect that hardship has on individuals and have a desire to help. Consumers buy smartphones because they can relate to the desire to communicate and share images, videos, and experiences with the world around them. By creating stories that relate to the desires of the audience you connect to an existing memory or thought, making them more likely to engage with your organization to satisfy those desires.

Tip: Avoid posting on social media solely for the sake of posting. Instead, only post when you have something to share that will provide value to your audience. Although you want to be consistent, quality trumps quantity every time. Too many disjointed, unfocused or uninformative posts on social media can drain the audiences attention span and cause them to be desensitized to your profile. If your organization does not provide content that provides value to them (i.e: inform them of something) they will quickly mark your profile as one that is not worthy of engagement and scroll past your posts every time they see your name pop up on their timeline. 


3. Mix It Up

In today’s culture of fast-moving trends, increased screen usage and short attention spans it is critical that you use multiple mediums to tell your story. The way you present your story directly determines the impact it has on your audience; so mix it up a little! Weddings are a great example of using multiple mediums to engage an audience. Attendees are engaged visually through the cake and venue decoration, colors, pictures, and videos. They are engaged sonically through music selection and amazingly embarrassing wedding toast stories. They are engaged through taste and smell through food selection and, hopefully, and open bar.

TIP: The easiest way to mix it up is by utilizing video and pictures. Everyone has a smartphone that is capable of taking pictures and video. You don’t have to have an award-winning photographer or videographer on staff to create content, all it takes is a little ingenuity.


Storytelling is an essential component of any successful social or digital media campaign. By harnessing the power of storytelling you connect with your audience in a relatable way, giving them the opportunity to share their experiences and memories with you through engagement. Taking a little time out to build a culture of storytelling throughout your organization will go a long way to helping you achieve your goals.

Don’t have time to incorporate storytelling into your social or digital strategy? No problem! AlvaOdessa provides content development services, allowing you to focus on the work that matters while we craft an amazing strategy to tell your story to your audience. Feel free to reach out to us at services[at] to learn more.