Once upon a time …
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …
There once was …
These aren’t just classic fairy tale or movie beginnings. They represent memories. They evoke feelings. They get our minds churning. They signal that an exciting story is about to unfold—and those stories are powerful.
As content marketers, we need to be in the business of storytelling if we want our content to resonate and inspire. As Shane Snow, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of Contently, said during his session Create, Connect, And Optimize Through Storytelling: The New Formula For Content Success at the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum.
“When you engage in a story, your brain lights up.”
We want our audiences’ brains to light up when they experience our content. And at a time when content is absolutely everywhere, weaving a good story can set it apart from the rest. Here’s why:
#1 – We’re programmed for stories.
Stories and the way we react to them is part of our human makeup—dating back to caveman times and evolving to where we are now. As Snow said, stories make our brains light up. Research shows that when people are engaged in a story, there are a number of different parts of the brain that are connected and firing.
#2 – Stories break down barriers.
Stories help us understand each other. They connect us. They can inspire compassion. They can change our attitudes.
#3 – Stories build relationships.
Our human predisposition toward embracing stories, coupled with the connectedness stories give us, helps us build stronger relationships.
To open his session, Snow referenced a recent poll he had conducted. He asked his following to vote on who they would elect as president of the United States: Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling or England’s Queen Elizabeth.
The response? Overwhelmingly in favor of J.K. Rowling. Why? Because people felt like they knew her. There was a connectedness there—a relationship had been built.
How Do You Tell Better Stories?
Snow’s framework for content marketing storytelling is simple: Create, Connect and Optimize.
Create: Create content that can tell your audience compelling stories at each stage of the buyer’s journey. At the top, address shared interests and values. In the middle, tell stories about your company and your customers. At the bottom, dive into stories about your products and services. In addition, at each stage, the style of content you create could fall into three buckets: timely, seasonal or evergreen.
Connect: Choose how you will share your content with your audience based on Utilize your owned site and your email list to share content for sure. When it comes to additional tactics such as social media or webinars, make your choice based on whether you’re hoping for brand awareness or conversions.
Optimize: Once you’ve created and connected, you need to find out whether your content is actually effective. Start by looking at engagement metrics to determine where you’re winning and losing. Then take the steps to refine your content is created and shared with people.
“Stories have the potential to unlock changes and kindness, and improve our humanity,” Snow said. “If we think about it this way, we can do a lot of good in the world.”