The Social Story Workshop


Based on the cover story workshop

The Cover Story Workshop is a tool used in strategy and service design. It’s one of these classics that people use and re-use.  Workshop attendees have to imagine a magazine or newspaper cover. This publication is said to come out in the next few years. Participants have to show on this imaginary cover a praise about their company. This helps to make a personal vision or goal more tangible to the group. When in a group opposite cover stories come out, it is a sign of an unaligned vision in the group. Therefor, the Cover Story Workshop is a great tool to see if a team shares a common vision or not. And then, bring people together on the same page.

The Social Story Workshop

Share a vision and discover empathy

Cover Story Workshops are great for the insight they produce. But in their form they focus on what the press and the media will say. This has an impact on how the participants of the workshop can see their client. This workshop misses in a way the link with the customer. 
With my colleague Maxime Joris, we built an iteration of the Cover Story Workshop. We wanted to make the link with the customer more tangible. 


In this new workshop, participants have to imagine the praises of their customers. Not the far away praises of the press. Participants have to imagine any kind of social posts. These imaginary posts are the expression of their customers. Here we ask participants, also to think about how a social post would look like. Is it a selfy, a shared article? a link to the website? A recommendation on Yelp?   

Why it has potential

A clear link with customer

The best aspect of this workshop is to link the company’s vision with the customer. To image a customer saying something about your company is way different than to imagine a cover page about your company. It tells something about how you see your clients. It shows how you expect your clients to understand you. This workshop shows the different vision for the company. But it also shows the different ways the team considers the customer. This gives to this workshop more empathy.

The Social Story Workshop is in fact a great introduction for other empathic tools. The customer focus  works well with Persona creation workshops or Customer Journey mappings. In one of the workshops we co-designed with Maxime, we first made the participants create Personas. And then, for each Persona, the participants had to imagine several Social Stories. The combination of these two tools helped to create a shared focus. A focus on the customer side, rather than on the corporate side. Therefor, this workshop introduces the notion of Human Centered Design (HCD) in strategy workshops. Such a workshop is a good introduction for business executives unaware of this approach. This is even more true for workshops with business executives. who are not familiar with this approach.

This workshop builds on the Cover Story Workshop. Therefor, it’s still a great warm up for a strategic workshop session. It is simple to explain and fun to do. In the end, it creates creative artefacts that are a visual summary of a shared vision.

Final notice

Opening to the offline world

Social Story Workshop should not only be about online social networks. The artefacts that the participant produce can also be scenes of word of mouth. Other artefacts could be about dialogues, email sent to the support team and so on. If you open the number of artefact, limit the categories to a few elements. Having to many options to work on, attendees get them usually lost. They then loose time on selecting what kind of artefact they have to produce. When they should rather taking time on the artefact itself. It’s always a good practice to limit the artefact examples to 3 options. This will guide the non-creatives workshop attendees. And the creative participants will ask you if they can break the rules, as they always do.