Stories have power over us. For the longest time, people have been using stories as a way to transfer knowledge. The practice had such a profound effect on us that, even today, we find it hard to turn away from story-driven content. We watch movies and TV shows, play video games, read books, even listen to song lyrics because they tell us a story.
Not surprisingly, storytelling works well for marketing and advertising. Facebook ads that contain storytelling elements perform better than ads that focus on a call-to-action. Landing pages and websites can become storytelling platforms with the use of creativity and professional web design services. But it’s content marketing where storytelling is at its most effective. If you are a content marketer, here are five tips that will help you use storytelling in your campaigns.
Know Your Audience
There are two different approaches you can implement when creating any type of content. You can create what you want, and then let your audience form around it. The other approach is to write for your audience. One of them works better for content marketing, whether you use storytelling or not.
Using storytelling in your content marketing doesn’t relieve you of the need to know who you are talking to. Storytelling has a universal appeal, that is true. However, different stories appeal to different people. You will have to build a story around your audiences’ tastes. Just as it is one of the necessities for writing any other type of content, audience research is a necessity when writing storytelling content.
Learn the Basics of Storytelling
Using storytelling in content marketing is not the same as writing a novel. However, there are some rules you should be following when writing for marketing that apply to content and novels alike.
At the very least, you should understand the three-act structure. It is a simple structure that consists of a beginning, a middle, and the end. You set up the story at the beginning, you present the problem in the middle, and you resolve everything by the end. The five-act structure is slightly more complex, but it too can be boiled down to the big three — the characters, the conflict, and the resolve. It wouldn’t hurt to learn a thing or two about developing characters, the role of a twist, and plot holes. You might not have a lot of room to insert all of those into your content, but understanding what they are might still come in handy.
Rely on the Brand to Guide You
The thing that makes creating stories daunting is that stories can go anywhere. You have an absolute freedom from everything — laws of physics, logic, even reality. You can take a story in any direction you want to, populate it with any type of characters you want to, and put them through unimaginable ordeals. That much freedom can sometimes be scary. If you exercise it fully in content marketing, chances are high you will create a lot of bad content.
The brand you are writing for should give you all the boundaries you need. Your story will have to relate to or include references to the brand’s industry. It will also have to reflect the brand’s values. You are shaping an image that reflects your brand. Your audience should find enough of themselves in there, too.
Always Use Visuals
The reason why people prefer visual content to text is simple — that is how the human brain works. We are unimaginably quick at processing visual information. For the same amount of time spent consuming content, people receive a lot more information when consuming visuals than consuming only words.
If you think that visual content for storytelling necessarily means video, you are wrong. You can do incredible things with images only. Adding short captions to them can help you set up the context, or conflict, or the resolve — whatever the audience can’t find in the images.
Stay Consistent and Control the Pacing
You can use the same story content to develop different kinds of marketing assets. Omnichannel marketing is a big deal right now, so you’ll probably need to create story content for different types of channels. That can be challenging, but it can also push you to make interesting creative choices. It’s important to remember that the story in your content needs to be consistent regardless of the channel.
Stories come in different form. Writers who have a lot of skill can write a full story in one short sentence. It also takes a lot of skill to spread a single story over several tomes without losing the audience. The content of your storytelling marketing campaign can be either. You can publish several extremely short pieces of storytelling content. Or, you can spread one story over the whole campaign. Either way, remember that you can use the frequency of publishing to dictate the pacing of the story.
Stick to the basics for when you are creating storytelling content for a marketing campaign the first time. The basic structure well within the boundaries of the brand with strong visuals will do the trick. As you are getting better at it, you can start experimenting more with the brands that are open to it. You can also stick with the simple stories, though. Simple doesn’t mean it is bad, or ineffective.