Stories are how humans connect. For all of history, we have used stories to teach and communicate. What is all media, if not a story, that needs to be told? As a content creator, you must include storytelling in your content marketing strategy.
What does that mean? Simply put, you have to figure out what story you are trying to tell with your company. Are you a local news outlet trying to keep people connected to their community? A brand with a product that can change people’s lives? Do you have software or a platform that can make someone’s life easier?
Let’s start at the beginning.
Step one: Write your story
Writing a story is not the same thing as writing a mission statement. Brand storytelling is a different beast, consisting of how you portray your company’s story. Some things to consider including:
- How did you get started? How are your founders, and why did they believe in what the company does?
- What is your mission? How does what you do make people’s lives better? Your mission is your roadmap. It is your how. You’ll include statements like “We will do X by implementing Y.” This is where you tell people how you will change the world.
- Purpose. How is this different from mission, you may ask? Your purpose is your end game. What are you trying to accomplish? To build on mission, this is where you tell people why you’re going to change the world.
- Values. What do you stand for?
All of these things should be written down and documented within your company. They should inform every piece of content that comes out.
Step two: Who needs to hear your story?
Finding the audience is the second most important piece of the puzzle. You can know your story well, but you must figure out who needs to hear it to succeed. If you’re a local publisher in Ohio, your story will likely fall flat with a European audience. Retirees may be the wrong target if you’re a parenting brand.
Build audience personas. Identify exactly who you want to reach, including where they live, how old they are, and their daily lives. Where do they work? How do they get there? What’s their economic status? All of these things will color how they receive your story.
Let’s take a look at some good examples of brands speaking well to their audience.
Step three: Tell the story
Once you’ve figured out your story and who needs to hear it, you have to figure out how to tell it. Telling the story can be tricky, but if you’ve done the work, you are off to a great start.
Choose a medium. Does your audience prefer short-form videos? Are they long-form text readers? Where do they go for information—do they like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter? Are they TIkTokers? Email? All of these audiences exist. It’s your job to figure out where and how to get to them.
We live in a world where users wait for information to come to them. Information is delivered in feeds, inboxes, and video streams all day long. Most will assume that if something is important, it will come to them. In fact, they may only know they’re looking for you once you find them.
If the task sounds daunting, don’t freak out. There’s a way to do this.
Once you’ve figured out what they like, you get to create content they’ll enjoy. Remember that your feed should NOT look like a sales pitch. Ever. You want to serve your audience, offering whatever you bring to the table. If you can make them laugh or put words to a feeling they relate to personally, you will do just fine in the content space.
Make sure that your work represents your audience well and speaks to them on an emotional level. If you can speak their language through video, and humor, you’ll do well.
What makes a story good?
Making a good story is a subjective topic, but there are undeniably a few things that will make your story strong.
Your audience should be reflected in your work. Try to see it through their eyes. Is it relatable for the people you are trying to reach? What concerns do they have? Will they understand your cultural references? What do they find funny?
If the audiences could ReTweet the post with nothing but “same.” in the quote, you’ve nailed it.
They should feel understood. Go for heartstrings. Go for the laugh. If you evoke an emotional response, they will remember your work—and in an oversaturated sea of creators, that is the most important part.
Fear, humor, nostalgia, aspiration—these are all feelings that can earn the coveted thumb stop from your target audience.
It should be very timely or truly evergreen—not dated by old references or ill-timed jokes. Why does this story need to be told now? You should know this before you create the content.
If your content is full of errors and false information, you are not only at risk of getting roasted—you could damage your credibility long-term. Misinformation is rampant on the internet, and you don’t want to be part of the problem.
Storytelling in content marketing is an ongoing gift
Storytelling in content marketing is how you will stay relevant to your users. Learn their stories and use them to inform your own. Creating good content should be the most important part of your online strategy—distribution and everything else is a much smaller piece of the puzzle.
It all starts with the story and deserves to be told well.
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