Be a Persuasive Storyteller in Social Media – Tip #128

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Social Media and the Leader

Results of a survey showed that 75% of employees perceived that social media presence improves the ability to lead. Tu and McIsaac defined social presence as “the degree of feeling, perception, and reaction to being connected by CMC (Computer Mediated Communication) to another person through text.” With the majority of the working population connecting with others through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+, social media is an ideal channel for leaders to inspire, connect and share information. An industry leader or as a public figure can build a stronger sense of leadership by fuelling conversation on important issues and by expressing insights that resonate.

Build social presence by choosing a network where most of your audience is active. There are social media apps that enable users to chat, watch videos or films, play games, transact online payments, and document travel expenses.

Why Tell Stories

Contrary to what critics say, online education allows members to know each other and share valuable experiences through storytelling. Experience-based stories can “empower leaders to personally communicate organizational lessons that will function as an instrument of learning in experiential-based online executive education.” 

Storytelling strengthens social presence because people, as social beings, love to listen and share stories. Through storytelling, leaders and experts can inform the audience what it is like to be part of the organization (experiential function), explain how the organization works (explanatory function), describe how the organization maintains value and defend the organization’s behavior (validating function), and instruct members on how to behave (prescriptive function).  

Experiential Function – Battle of Stories

Stories of “how we failed, then succeeded” are experiences that employees share and relish.

An organization has a history and wealth of stories which leaders can leverage. People are connected to these stories. Relive these stories. Make them alive. Help people recall them. Stories of what adversities were conquered, how new heights of performance were achieved, how we overcame as a company and how employees took the lead.

In an organizational setting, we call this the battle of stories.

Explanatory Function – Inspire for a Higher Cause

Organizations serve a purpose. It must impact people’s lives and well being.

Many social media effort communicates the purpose with inspiring slogans.

Slogans are stories that reverberate instantly in people’s memories and emotions.


At the Corner of Happy & Healthy – Walgreens

Save time. Save Money. Everyday! – Dollar General

Expect More, Pay Less – Target

These slogans highlights the benefits and reasons why employees and customers are so inspired by organizations.

See more on FedEx and Starbucks.

Validating Functions – Shifting Minds and Hearts

Validating Functions are powerful values that must be kept alive, inspiring and guiding people through their actions and decisions.

When IBM’s chief Ginni Rometty talks about the “New Collar Jobs,” she is inspiring others to look into the opportunities of newer jobs brought by technology, rather than the loss of jobs. This is a value that employees and customers feel good with about because it calls for their best efforts and imagination. We all want to belong to a solution, not a problem; an exploiter of opportunities, not a bystander.

Talk to your audience from your heart to their heart.


Stories in social media are a continuing part of the work environment in organizations. We are connected with employees, customers and stakeholders through our social media face and reputation. We use social media to help in sharing stories. Reliving them fuels and empowers the workforce for better job performance. Values are inculcated and remain in the hearts and minds of people. It is one of leadership’s great teaching tools as they speak to the audience’s hearts.


Carolyn O’Hara. How to Tell a Great Story.
Harvard Business Review: July 30, 2014 Joshua Bretag. Why social media matters for modern leaders. Virgin: September 7, 2016
Brandi Scollins-Mantha. Cultivating Social Presence in the Online Learning Classroom: A Literature Review with Recommendations for Practice.
International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning: Vol. 5, No. 3, March 2008
Julie E. Kendall and Kenneth E. Kendall. Enhancing Online Executive Education Using Storytelling: An Approach to Strengthening Online Social Presence.
Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education: Vol. 15, No. 1 The Battle of Stories – Instructional Design Approach
Creating Great Stories for eLearning
Ginni Rometty
New Collar Jobs
Tip #111 – Why Stories Drive Social Learning
Tip #118 – Content That Lives Within a Story Lives Forever

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”