Using Storytelling To Strengthen Your Content Marketing
The ability to tell stories is one of the most important steps in bringing your audience on a journey with you. Stories allow people to experience your brand as something that they can relate to and it’s often better to be unfiltered in the content that you are posting in order to show yourself in a real and authentic way. Storytelling is such a valuable asset to use when you are creating not only visual content but any content, as it can appeal to people across all cultures and values. Through stories, you can build relationships with your audience and connect with them on a deeper level.
Each day more and more content is posted online and it has become harder to stop those scrolling thumbs. As trends shift, audiences want to see less staged and more authentic content being posted for them. Because of this, it is more important than ever to stay true not only to your brand but also to your customers, by doing this you will create more visually engaging content as your audience wants to see you being more transparent in the content that you’re sharing.
For marketers, bloggers, and business owners, storytelling has become the key to unlocking audience engagement and driving conversion in all its forms. Through addictive articles and engaging visual content, storytelling allows us to breathe life into our work and create something more than just another post in a crowded news feed.
In this article written by Christoph Trappe, VP of Content Marketing at ScribbleLive, you will learn how to create a clear strategy that will ultimately lead to better stories:
I’ve been hearing this question from digital marketing leaders and executives more often lately: How do I get my content teams to tell better stories?
Of course, “better” is highly subjective. What it often comes down to is how do we make them:
- Highly relevant
I’m really glad more and more executives are realizing the importance of developing these skill sets in their teams.
In reality though, what I have found is that it’s not just about getting teams to tell better stories. A lot of times the teams already want to create good content. I personally don’t know any content creator that sets out to create less than useful content. And certainly there are different levels of content marketing skills – so don’t forget about the talent management piece.
So why aren’t we sharing the best stories, anyway?
Assuming the right people are in the right seats on a team, typical reasons for not sharing the best stories often come down to a few different things.
- Political barriers inside the organization
- No buy-in from the people with the stories
- Expectations aren’t clear
- Technology that wastes people’s time and brainpower
It sounds so simple, and it is – once you’ve identified the issues and made up your mind to correct them. With that said, here’s my step-by-step guide to help leaders empower their teams to tell better stories.
Step 1: Set a clear strategy
We come up with a strategy, write it up and get the right people to approve it. The job is done and we safely store the documented strategy in a Word document, saved 12 folders deep on some lettered drive. Ugh. That usually doesn’t work on a day-to-day approach.
Of course I’ve used Word documents for strategy, but I always made sure to have a printed copy so teams can remember the goals. Often, we would bring printed copies to meetings and then scribble updates on them. That’s not perfect but better than creating and forgetting about it.
Of course, a one-stop platform is best. The easiest way to track progress towards strategic goals is to put the goals in the same place as where your team is creating content. You can open Word documents in Google Docs to collaborate with your team in real time.
Step 2: Get buy-in from the right people
In most mid to large sized companies, the content creators hardly ever tell their own stories.
For example, I’m writing this post myself, but I can because it is based on my own experiences (aka stories). This is often not the case in most corporate storytelling. The person with the stories is usually not the one writing them. That’s why it’s so important to get buy-in from the leaders and front-line staff – those who craft the stories and can then help the content creation team share them.
Sometimes I’ve run into front-line staff who have told me they don’t worry about the organizational storytelling because the digital or marketing team take care of that. That’s, of course, true to an extent, but those teams also need help from the front-line employees.
Step 3: Set expectations with stakeholders
- Leaders – approve things that will help you achieve your business goals
- Front-line staff – here’s how this will help you, the business and here’s how we’ll make this easy for you
- Content creators – here’s the content we want to create: Content that is helpful to us as a business but the top goal is to share unique and useful content for our audiences. (I call that the Zone of Mutual Relevance)
Step 4: Align workflows and skills
I would usually recommend a workflow like this:
- Stories are documented as something worth sharing.
- Planning – share ideas and stories and prioritize but don’t over-vet them!
- Production (audio recording, writing, etc.)
- Nimble and short approval processes
- Solid and regular publishing on a schedule
- Sophisticated distribution process and plan
Step 5: Use only technology that actually helps
Technology is a wonderful thing. I love it. I hate it. I love it. Great technology makes our lives easier. In other words, it doesn’t waste our brain power but empowers us to use our brain power to create better content.
The brain power strategy really does work! Remember Steve Jobs, the brilliant Apple exec? He wore the same clothes daily so he didn’t have to think about what to wear. Instead, he thought about creating the iPhone and other useful technology.
The same works here for content creators. The more time we allocate for them to create and then distribute that useful and unique content the better it’ll be. We only have so much brain power to go around after all.
Don’t be afraid of stories
Sometimes we overthink stories! Is this really the story we want to tell? Is there just one person somewhere who might not like this story for some kind of reason? The answer is: “Probably. Somebody somewhere will not be your fan!”
When content marketing is done, it won’t please everyone. When some people don’t like you, that means you are reaching people. What’s more important to you is that a larger amount of people within your target audience like and love you!
Content marketing leaders can help their teams tell better stories by creating efficient systems, not letting teams get bogged down in office politics or with bad technology, and giving them the time to create and distribute the unique and useful stories that will help your business stand out.
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