As kids, we all loved stories – not much changes when we grow up. Regardless of our age or of how professional we are, at heart, we all love a good tale. It is essential, therefore, to be able to tell a story in a blog post as a way of getting your point across.
This doesn’t mean that blogging needs to resemble a fairy tale or be a work of fiction. It simply means that you need to follow a pattern of a start, a middle and an ending, and have an understandable, easy to follow the progression of events as the plot goes on.
The other critical part of storytelling in blogging is evoking emotion in your readers. It is natural that stories kick our imagination into gear, and this is where we start to get invested.
This is, essentially, the crux of good content. When it comes to marketing, a feeling is what sells, not logic, and let’s be honest – stories may not always follow the logic, but they’re always full of feeling.
So, how do you go about using this art in your own content?
You can tell a story in more than one ways, and the one you choose should be based on the message you want to pass to the reader.
The good news is that this method is such a part of life from when we’re young, we’re all born storytellers. So if you aren’t sure how to it in a blog post, here are some techniques that are usually winners.
Tell It Like You Speak
Storytelling doesn’t really work with business jargon and fancy corporate terms. Remember, it’s those kids inside all of us that really respond to a good story, so when it comes to writing (whether in a blog post, a presentation or a video), you want to tell it in such a way that everyone can relate.
Can you imagine Snow White and The Seven Dwarves in corporate speak? It wouldn’t be half as engaging, would it?
Get Down To Business
We live in a world that has a very short attention span, so hit your readers with something immediately to captivate them. Stories that have long introductions and take ages to get to the point usually lose their readers before they even get to the good stuff.
Throw in something right at the beginning to catch your audience’s attention, and then keep the pace going as they read further. You want them to be eager to see what happens next!
Have an Enemy and a Hero
People love to get behind a hero. The battle between good and evil (in whatever form it may suit your blog) is one that every reader can relate to. If your audience has the main character to cheer on, there’s a better chance of them being invested in the thing you’re writing about.
Of course, if one of your characters is someone the readers can stand against, that helps too. It’s a human condition to want to take a stand, and be on the side of justice and victory!
Show, Don’t Tell
As a blogger, you need to be able to paint a picture in the mind’s eye of your audience.
Don’t tell them that the train was packed with passengers. Explain to them how you were sandwiched between a plump, pretty lady in a pink dress and a short, bearded man who smelled like coffee and cigars, and you were swept into the train as the crowd flowed through the narrow doors.
Get creative! It is essential to use creative storytelling and not just say things as you see them, because your words are what’s creating that image in the mind of your reader. Use vivid descriptions to invoke the senses, describe sights, smells, sounds, colors.
Remember, you want them to FEEL the emotions that come along with whatever you’re writing about, and creating the sensation of a cool breeze, or the bustling atmosphere of the station, or the sweet creaminess of a mouthful of chocolate ice cream … Those are the things that captivate the imagination.
Create Some Suspense
You don’t want to start off with a bang and then get boring halfway through. Keep your readers engaged by creating a bit of suspense, and making them wonder where the plot is going. Curiosity is a powerful thing, so build your story up slowly and drop in a couple of tidbits here and there to keep them guessing about the outcome.
End With a Positive
You want your story to end on a positive note, something for the reader to take away and think about. If you have a call to action, you obviously it to play into that, and for the reader to react positively.
Anyway, all good stories have a happy ending!
Have a Captivating Structure
Once you’ve got the hang of using those techniques to craft a great story, you can check out some different storytelling structures here, to jazz it up even more. Remember, how to tell a story remains the same regardless of whether it’s n blog post or presentation form, so these structures will be useful no matter how you prefer to do your storytelling.
We’re all human, and deep down none of us like feeling like we’re being told what to do. We want to make our own decisions, and be responsible for our own lives.
This is a crucial concept to understand when it comes to marketing. If you’re trying to sell a new product, you’ll have far more luck sharing stories of how this product has changed people’s lives than you will by telling readers why they should be buying it.
How To Tell A Story In Marketing
Consider these two ways of advertising a new high blood pressure medication:
- “Using XYZ blood pressure medication is the best choice you could ever make. Do you want a longer life, a healthier lifestyle, and more energy? Of course, you do! Make the smart choice – go with XYZ.”
- “ABC blood pressure medication has changed my life. I used to feel too tired to play with my kids, my constant headaches were affecting my relationship, and my health was getting worse by the day. Within a week of beginning ABC, I could play, laugh and live with less pain and more energy! Thank you, ABC. You saved my relationship, my sanity, and my life.”
Storytelling marketing is much more effective than plain old telling people why they should do something because stories tend to tug at our heartstrings and create an emotional response. We naturally put ourselves in the position of the teller, which causes us to FEEL the feelings that go with that situation.
- What if I couldn’t play with my kids?
- What impact would it have on my relationship if I was constantly feeling unwell?
- How would my life be different if I was in constant pain?
These emotions set off a chain reaction, which often results in action. That’s not to say advert number 1 above isn’t going to be effective, but the human psyche is predictable – we respond better to stories we can relate to than to something without that connection.
What do you think of when you hear the word “brand”? If your first thought was a name and a logo, you’ve got it half right.
There’s more to a brand than just being recognizable. The most successful brands are built on stories, and customers feel connected to the brand because they can relate to the story.
Once again, the emotional connection comes into play here. Your brand story goes beyond the narrative and the flashy pictures and happy blog posts. It is your core, your brand’s foundation, and is used to reflect the truth about your brand to your customers.
Brand storytelling hits the heart, rather than the brain, and that’s where you want to be when it comes to establishing relationships with customers that will last.
Digital Storytelling Marketing
The power of storytelling transcends the type of media you use to get it told. These days, social media is the go-to marketing tool for any digital business, and that goes for blogging too. Whatever the media you’re using to tell the story, the guidelines above are relevant, and social media platforms should be used as an extension of the story for marketing purposes.
Telling a story in a blog post relies entirely on your words creating that picture in your readers’ minds. When sharing your blog on social media, you need to use a select few words that create some sort of curiosity in the reader and entice them to go ahead and read the whole post. A teaser, if you will.
Pair your sneak peek with a picture that is relevant to your story, and you should start getting clicks. Think of it this way – if you had to summarize the story of Cinderella in a few sentences, what would you say?
Your goal would be to make your reader interested to know more, to know how the story ends, to know who comes out on top. Or even better, make the reader feel like the situation is relevant to their own lives.
“Stuck in a job she despised, surrounded by people who cared nothing for her, Cinderella knew something had to change. When the opportunity came, she knew she had a tough decision to make – her comfort zone, or her dream life?”
More people than not are going to be able to relate to that and naturally will want to know exactly what Cinders did to get away from her dreary life and start living her dream life.
Create that curiosity. You want your reader to feel that this story could offer them something, or help solve a problem they themselves are experiencing.
Problem-solving doesn’t have to be devoid of creativity! Telling a story just helps people to understand it in a way that resonates with them, and see the value in what you’re offering.
Remember, when it comes to using social media to market yourself, you have a very small space to create that interest and make them want to read more. Suspense, curiosity and a sneak peek at a problem that they can relate to are always winners when it comes to storytelling marketing.
Images can be a powerful supplement to a good story, and in some cases can be the story itself. Obviously, this is slightly different from writing a blog post, but the same concepts apply. Keep them engaging, following a progression, have a main character and getting the point across.
Instagram is a great example of how pictures can be used to tell a story.
If you’re on YouTube or Facebook, you will understand the prevalence of video in marketing today. Videos should tell a story just as much as a blog post does. As much as we tend to be more engaged by visual content, it’s just as easy to get bored. If you’re a video-maker, be sure to incorporate the techniques above into your videos as well, for best results.
Your viewers still need to be able to follow a progression as your video goes, and you need to create that emotional hook. Throw in something to catch their attention from the start, and keep it interesting enough to hold their attention.
Whatever the type of content you’re using to tell your story, digital marketing remains the same. You want to engage your audience from the start, share an emotional experience, and solve a problem for them. This is the heart of doing business online, and your stories should aim to achieve that.
Telling stories is a skill we’re built with, as humans.
Before there was social media, information and lessons got passed around as compelling stories that were shared across generations. This oral tradition has become less and less over time, as digital media has taken hold, but telling (and hearing or reading) stories is no less relevant or important in our day to day lives.
We may have advanced in leaps and bounds technologically, but inside we’re still just those kids who love a good tale.
Keen to try telling more stories in your blog? Let us know how below how it’s working for you!