3 Ways to Tell Stories on Twitter

Picture of Aliza ShermanAliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

3 Ways to Tell Stories on Twitter

Twitter can be a challenging social network to use. The 140-character limit for each post or “tweet” means distilling every message down to its most concise form while still attempting to use proper grammar and the least number of abbreviated words. Gaining followers on Twitter tends to be a slow process. Attracting and holding your followers’ attention is hard given the fast moving, crowded Twitterstream.

With all of these challenges, why use Twitter? Through Twitter, you can showcase your expertise, build your brand, and easily link to other websites and online resources. You can reach a broader or more global audience than some of the other popular social networks. You can also find and reach the media who use Twitter as a source.

To make Twitter work for marketing, you need to craft tweets that stand out and that tell your story or your company’s story in compelling ways. Storytelling is an important part of any effective social media marketing campaign, however, telling a complete story in 140 characters or less is next to impossible. Luckily, there are a number of ways to overcome the hurdles of storytelling on a platform that limits how much you can say in each message you post. Here are a few.


One way to tell richer stories on Twitter is to curate and combine multiple tweets to build a more detailed narrative. Twitter offers a built-in feature called “Moments” to do just that. The Moments section was originally a view-only feature with content compiled by the Twitter staff. Now you have the ability to make your own Moments.

Moments blend text, images and video tweets that you’ve published, that others have published, or a combination of both. You can curate tweets by hashtags or based on other keyword searches on specific topics. Moments string together bits of a story to make a more complete, multimedia presentation of that story.

Each Moment has a permanent link you can share to your following on Twitter or through other social networks. You can pin your Moment to the top of your Twitter page to highlight it. Overall, Moments is a way to group Tweets together as a single story.


Telling stories in video can be a lot easier than doing it through a tweet or even a series of tweets. Live streaming video continues to gain popularity on the Internet and is most often viewed on mobile devices. Twitter incorporated a live streaming video feature, Periscope, directly into the Twitter mobile app to make video streaming a seamless process.

To start a live video stream, click the button to compose a tweet, and the Live button appears next to the Camera button. Add Tweet text to announce what you’re about to do, then click the red Go Live button. Once you are streaming live, you will see when people are viewing your video. People can post comments that show up on your smartphone screen, and you can comment back either by posting a comment or by speaking directly to them live.

Conversing through live streaming video can feel more direct and connected than the back and forth of a Twitter conversation. Turning on live video streaming, however, doesn’t automatically help you tell more compelling stories on Twitter. Plan out your live streams, both what you’ll show and what you’ll say. And remember: you don’t have to be on camera to tell a story. You can narrate a scene or let a scene “speak” for itself.


A more robust way to compile a variety of tweets based on keywords, handles, or hashtags is to build Stories in Storify. Storify is an app separate from Twitter that lets you pull tweets - and even Instagram posts - into the web app. Then you can drag and drop them into a timeline and rearrange them in any order. You can even create headers and separators plus add additional content to enhance the narrative.

Once your Storify Story is complete, you can publish it and tweet it to your followers to access it. Storify encourages you to reference people whose Tweets are part of the compilation so they can view and share it. Storify is useful as a reporting tool to present a story and show the impact of a Twitter marketing campaign.

Through Twitter features and third-party software, you can expand beyond the character limit for Tweets and tell the kinds of stories that capture people’s attention. More detailed stories can provide the context people need to better understand your message and to engage with you.