I love social media on both technical and social levels: the satisfaction of mastering the many features, metrics and settings and the real joy of keeping in touch with so many people, friends and business contacts.

In terms of business use — social media marketing — the approach is much more analytic. Buzz monitoring, analytics, metrics, ranking and calculating returns are all important and you would want your agency to be good at all this stuff.But what of the content itself? How do you create ‘engagement’, as it is called, with content that people are attracted to? (I hate the word ‘engagement’ but that’s for another blog). I think the answer lies in storytelling. Bear with me.Think of all the presenters you have ever seen. How many of them have really moved you? Most of them can be professional but dry. Facts are there in profusion but what about emotion?

Recently, the TEDTalks (“Ideas worth spreading”) have given us some superb models of how great speakers can move us and move us to action: public speaking is where ideas can be tried and tested. The difficulty is that, in normal circumstances, there is no feedback mechanism and, without feedback, there is no improvement.One forum where ideas and stories — through public speaking — are tested is Speakeasy Groups. It was founded by Andrew Thorp and I have been involved almost from the start.

Each Speakeasy session lasts about two-and-a-half hours and typically involves up to 20 participants. The Groups function either as open, public groups, with an additional networking benefit, or an internal exercise bringing together employees from different departments within a company or organisation.

The huge benefit is that the Group gives each speaker’s five minute talk detailed feedback on content, the story, engagement (that word again!), body language, voice, visual aids…everything and anything. Where else can you get this immediate verdict on how your audience has ‘decoded’ your message?

Decoding is important to developing a ‘story’ that excites and grips an audience and the intimate atmosphere of a Speakeasy Group allows you to get this valuable feedback. A Group membership typically stay quite constant and, although not every Group member gets to give a five minute talk at each meeting, members are aware that they will all have to face the ordeal of a talk and, so, their feedback is critical and direct but also phrased positively!

A successful set of ‘stories’, piloted at a Speakeasy Group, becomes the successful message you use to communicate through social media. It is usually imbued with passion, as well as facts, and it becomes an essential plank of your inbound marketing efforts.