There's a reason storytelling has been around for centuries - it works.
A good story can engage an audience and persuade them to take action, whether that's buying a product or changing their behavior.
Websites, social media posts, and even email campaigns are all congested with content. But do all these content pieces tell significant stories?
In a word: no. (Mostly, NO!)
Too often, we see businesses spending thousands of dollars on content creation. But in the end, it fails to excite the customers on an emotional level and creates no incentive to engage. Sales copies, blog posts, and YouTube scripts that don't engage the reader are mostly shooting in the dark - you may get lucky and hit your target, but often you'll miss completely.
On the other hand, any content piece with a narrative or story is bound to stick with users. The challenge then is to be able to weave stories into your content pieces
Difference between creating content and narrating stories
All stories are good content, but all contents are not good stories.
When we think about content, we tend to intermingle them with our idea of stories and narratives, but they are not the same. Narratives come with a structure, flow and relatability which need to be weaved into the content piece to evoke emotions and engagement.
While narratives are more engaging, your customers also don't want to read a novel when they're looking for consumable information on your product or service. They want concise, well-written content that provides them with what they need quickly and easily. That doesn't mean you can't tell a story; it just means you need to be strategic and creative about how you do it.
So, what makes content a good story –
The structure in which it is communicated - Distinct Beginning, Middle and End
Its ability to evoke an emotion
Its ability to generate empathy and relatability with the audience.
Your story should illustrate a point or help explain something in greater detail. However, it should never be the focus of your content - that's what your facts and figures are for!
Why are stories and storytelling so effective? There are several reasons:
i) First, stories are intrinsically interesting. We as humans are hardwired for narrative; we love tales with beginnings, middles, and ends. Stories capture our attention and keep us engaged, which is why they're such a powerful tool for marketers.
ii) Second, stories help us understand complex concepts. When you explain something in terms of a story, it becomes easier for people to understand. The story provides context and allows people to see how the information relates to their own lives.
iii) Third, stories stir emotions. We remember things that make us feel something - whether it's happiness, sadness, anger or excitement. When you tell a story that engages your audience emotionally, they're more likely (and more likely) to remember it later on.
When it comes to creating content, always keep your audience in mind. Who they are? What do they want? What do they need? How can you best deliver that information to them in an easily digestible format? If you can answer those questions, then you'd be in a better position to weave a story that connects.
By weaving together narratives about your company, its products or services, and the people who use them, you can create a much richer understanding for your audience - one that goes beyond simple explanations or descriptions.
How do you turn your content into stories?
Most people think of storytelling as something reserved for fiction writing or more creative endeavors such as advertising or public relations. But good business storytelling isn’t about spinning a fanciful tale; it’s about using real-life examples and anecdotes to illustrate a point, make a connection with your audience, and help them understand what you do and how you can help them.
Here are a few examples of content that could be turned into a story:
When your objective is to highlight the product benefits:
A piece of content could be a social media post highlighting the benefits of a product, but a story could be about a “day in the life” of a user, how was it before using your product and then how does it change after your product.
When your objective is to celebrate a new customer win:
A piece of content could be a simple announcement which outlines the win, but a Story could be something that narrates the why, how, and what behind the customer choice, thus creating an impact for prospective customers.
When your objective is to announce a new product release:
A piece of “content” could be the fanciest infographics on the new product, features etc. but a “Story” could be something that narrates - what made company X build these new features? What are the new features? What benefits would the new features bring to the existing and new users? how can users avail the new product? And what can users expect from company X in the future?
When you don’t have any objective and you ran out of content ideas (happens too often 😊):
A piece of “content” could be a philosophical quote from a learned philosopher or a retweet of a popular tweet, but a “Story” could be something that narrates - why is it difficult to find and create good stories? or what motivates your colleague to come to the office every day?
Point is to look for facts around you and build an engaging narrative.
Besides, you should know that storytelling isn’t just for big brands — it can be used by any business to create connections with customers and employees alike.
What are you creating? Content or stories?
Stories will never be outdated. They will keep evolving. The first oral stories were probably told around campfires, and they evolved into written stories, which in turn became movies and TV shows. Even though the way we tell them has changed over the years, the power of a good story has remained the same.
Millions of pieces of content are being produced and shared every day, but what sticks out is a good story. Storytelling can be a tad bit more difficult, but the rewards of good content outweigh the effort. And the good part is that storytelling can be learned, practiced, honed, and perfected over time.
Give your content engine a good spin to induce structure, empathy, and emotion into your content. Turn your content into a story - something relatable, something timeless.