Why is storytelling important in today’s busy online world? We’re all swamped with messages all day from email, social media, television, our smartphones, you get the picture! Storytelling has been around since we first started communicating with each other and while the mediums may have changed, telling stories is still a powerful way to communicate. Using these powerful storytelling tips can help boost your content marketing and reach more people.
I’d like to share some ideas with you about how and why you should use storytelling to boost your content marketing. I hope this inspires you to dig into your brand and find the stories worth telling and may to even spin a few new tales.
Stories have been passed down through many generations. Before we had a written language, we had oral storytellers. Oral storytellers created and shared legends that we passed down from one generation to the next. These people were our trusted communicators that kept the narrative of the culture alive as well as passed down valuable information about how to support the tribe and stay safe.
Today stories are passed down to us from our grandparents, parents and, even our siblings. I’m sure we all have advice that we treasure from our grandparents and stories that our siblings told us that were also part of our family heritage. My sister told me that I was adopted (which wasn’t true) but is part of the sibling narrative in many families.
We also absorb stories from media such as television and movies which become part of our cultural narrative. Our shared stories become a cultural shorthand as we can retell the story in our head from hearing a certain name or a tiny snippet of a story. “Once upon a time” draws us into the story as we’re pulled by past experiences with storytelling whether it was a parent telling us the story of a little girl with a red hood heading to her grandmother’s house or “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” zips us into the saga of Star Wars. Millions of people know the familiar phrase which was the first glimpse into the Star Wars movie.
Learn from Great Storytellers
One of my favorite authors who shared her very personal journey in Eat, Pray, Love and connected with millions of people around the world. Writing about her journey of self-discovery, love, and finding hope helped so many people realize “Wow! She went through all this and came out ok.” And Julia Roberts starred in the movie of her story.
Liz shares many tidbits of her life and works on social media and I love finding her kick-in-the-pants messages as a part of my day. I'd love to have lunch with her to soak up storytelling tips and learn her writing process.
One of my favorite storytellers. I love Walt's messages of hope, faith, and pixie dust. Bringing his bold, unique ideas to fruition has charmed people for decades as they go see Disney movies or visit a Disney park. They are family-friendly but delivered with a full range of emotions and all the gifts that the Disney creative team can muster. The lessons from Disney stories stick with you and help you navigate the complicated and yet also simplistic world of childhood.
Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air
Terry Gross has conducted over 13,000 interviews in her career. She's mastered the art of getting to the heart of the topic and her guests through research, her own intellect, and her skills as an interviewer. “Barbara Walters was once our national interviewer, in a flashier style defined by a desire for spectacle. Gross is an interviewer defined by a longing for intimacy. In a culture in which we are all talking about ourselves more than ever, Gross is not only listening intently; she’s asking just the right questions.”
A photographic essay accompanied by interviews telling “New York City, one story at a time.”
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“I’d just turned twelve. I think Dad realized that I needed somebody in my life. He was working two jobs so I never had anyone to talk to. Mom wasn’t around. Middle school was a complete disaster. I had no friends and was getting bullied tons. Then one day I came home from school, and Dad was home—which was shocking, because he normally worked until 9 pm. And he introduced me to this guy. I had no clue who he was. He said his name was Adam, and that he was my ‘Big Brother,’ and he was going to help me. But I had no clue what that meant. I just thought it was a friend of my dad’s or something. We were only supposed to meet two times a month. But it ended up being more like three times a week. He helped me study. I could call him whenever I felt sad. And he helped me with my anger outbursts. Whenever I was having a bad day, we’d go to a bridge near his house and throw a bunch of rocks in the creek. He helped me so much over the years. Even after he moved to New York, I was able to do the last two years of high school by myself. He promised me that if I graduated with all B’s, he’d fly me up to New York for a visit. Well I did better than that. I graduated with all A’s and B’s.”
Storytelling Tips from the Masters
“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings
“Humans are pattern-seeking story-telling animals, and we are quite adept at telling stories about patterns, whether they exist or not.” Michael Shermer
“People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.” Neil Gaiman
“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.” Terry PratchettPowerful Storytelling Tips to Boost your Content Marketing Click To Tweet
“The main function of the human brain, the primary instinct, is storytelling. Memory is storytelling. If we all remembered everything, we would be Rain Man, and would not be socially active at all. We learn to forget and to distort, but we [also] learn to tell a story about ourselves.” Joss Whedon
How to Use Stories in your Content Marketing
Marketing today is a complicated mix of messages that people receive, along with a baby announcement on Facebook, a trending topic on Twitter, and an email from their boss with a complicated project. Stories can help connect people with your content. Content marketing is best presented in a native environment with a story. The story is what pulls in the attention and interest and earns you the right to finish your story.Trust is the currency of social marketing. Click To Tweet
Trust is the currency of social marketing. Attention is given to trusted, authentic brands – fluffy methods without a solid base are a waste of time. Trust is built through repeated sharing of stories, which is evident with social marketing. It's necessary to show up daily and work on the relationships you're building in your community. There are no shortcuts to building the foundation of trust.
Connect with people in your community who like, share, and comment on your content. Many people are afraid to like or comment, and they just watch or lurk on social media. Remember that many people may check your social media pages or blog that you never know about. Building through conversations over time can build enough momentum to entice other people to join the conversation.
Make it easier for people to join in the conversation by:
- asking questions
- creating polls
- using a call to action
- Use this or that type of comparison questions
Once you've started building a community and people are surrounding your brand online, engage with the people who share their attention with you. Know what's important to them, what they like, and where they enjoy spending time online.
Follow accounts on social media that connect with and follow your brand.
Hone in on these storytelling tips:
- Sharing how your brand started.
- Creating a visual brand helps people understand what brand you are and what you do.
- Inviting super fans to give testimonials about your product or service.
- Sharing social media posts that other people make talking about your brand. Go Pro does a fantastic job with this.
- Using video to introduce your staff to the world.
Turn a creative eye on your brand and think of ways that you can share the people and pieces of your brand that make you unique and memorable. Telling your brand story will help people know and love you for what you do.
I hope these storytelling tips will inspire you and boost your content marketing as you learn to weave your story into your messages. It might seem scary or challenging at first, but I think you'll find that the things that make you unique will also make you successful.
Transport George says
Great post Peg! Stories are the ’emotional glue’ that connects you to your customers. It makes your brand relatable and stick in the minds of your target clients/customers.
Mohit Bumb says
nice article on storytelling
Katie Momo says
Fantastic post, Peg. It’s true – even the most analytical person can’t help but fall for a great story! It can be easy to forget when you’re wrapped up in your biz to bring that aspect into marketing.
Love the idea of using ‘this or that’ to spark engagement! It’s simple and doesn’t ask a lot of the reader in terms of thought/time. Going to use that for sure 😉
Sue B Zimmerman says
It’s your stories, experiences and character that makes your brand stand out from everyone else. I love this post Peg! Especially the Instagram images you embedded. 🙂
Lovely article but you have a paragraph that repeats twice. Sorry, my nerdy editor had to come out and say something. =)
Before you can start using storytelling on your content marketing you need to create your own brand story. Your story is all about what your brand is and what it can do it is why your brand exists. Your brand story involves not only the people, ideas and other information about your brand.
Lorie Ng says
Brilliant! Storytelling or a narrative content is a unique thing in content marketing! It is shared to social media. And we all know that integrity and trust is a great value to live by especially to the world of social. By showing to your audience that you can be trusted and you provide great value, you can step ahead of the competition. Telling true credible stories are great way that shows evidence and credibility. Moreover, success stories are more creative way to inspire and in reach audience mind.Thanks for these tips! I find it very helpful!!
I love this article Peg. I love the idea of story telling but I still find the idea a little confusing as it relates to social media marketing. I think of story telling in terms of ‘once upon a time’. ???? But I am intrigued and excited to put some of these ideas into action and grow in this area. Thank you!
Soumya Roy says
Really enjoyed reading post. As a digital marketing raining company we teach our trainees about how to use basic story telling in content marketing and this post is going to be really helpful for them. Story telling contents with animated videos and info-graphics work really good, like why a product was created, how it solves a real life problem and how people are getting benefited from the product etc. We teach hem some fundamental techniques of story telling but this content gave us some ideas which we can include in our courses and I am sure that’s going to be helpful for all. Thanks for sharing this post.