Question: Stories … where would business, content and social media be without them?
Think Instagram, SnapChat, and Facebook, and just your content in general.
Do you use stories to get your information across?
We can thank SnapChat really for the reintroduction to stories in our business marketing efforts and strategies. It was in 2013 that Snapchat introduced us to a new format of sharing our lives with our followers and the world — Snapchat Stories.
Now we have Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories … and basically all content is based around stories, even advertising has taken on a whole new method and storytelling approach.
And why not? Stories have been used to engage people for hundreds of thousands of years. From day dot.
They are a powerful way to market yourself, your business and your brand.And there is honestly only one reason why … because people remember them.
Our brains are programmed to remember information when it’s presented like a story, it’s just the way we are built.
If you can’t remember the name of something you will probably remember the story associated with it, think fairy tales, and even the stories your mum or dad used to tell around the dinner table.
They educate, engage and entertain – and we actually grew up with them, which is why all the big-name companies and marketing agencies are using them to frame data and other information to connect and convert.
And you can too.
FAST FACT: People retain 65to 70 percent of information shared through stories.
Stories allow us to share ourselves on a more personal level and if we know anything at all about social media and human behaviour it is that we all want to know info about the people we follow…even if we say we don’t!
We want to know that the people we put way up on the social media pedestal are just the same as us with the same problems as we have (even if they are at a higher level).
It’s comforting and it’s makes us all “normal”.
So how do you tell a great story that engages, educates and entertains, all the while building out our brand, profile and business?
Let’s take a look.
- Be yourself and be real
There are three major tactics when it comes to storytelling, the first being just to be yourself. People follow you because they already like you and they keep following you because you put out great content. They eventually buy from you because they trust in you from the content you put out there and the way you display yourself online and off.
You don’t need to be anyone else but yourself when you are sharing stories and content about your personal life.
And that content can be as simple as sharing what you enjoy, where you are going on the weekend and who you are hanging out with.
Social media, if used for business or pure pleasure needs to be social. So share some fast facts about yourself, tell your audience what you enjoy doing on the weekends even if it’s nothing at all, they will find some common ground with you. They will trust you a lot more because you are being real and relateable with them.
Are you hanging out with your friends and family? Are you going away? Do you like gardening, cooking or yoga? Let your followers in on your life.
- Share only what you are comfortable with
When sharing stories and giving your followers and clients a view into your life share what you feel comfortable with.
If it is a little bit, share it. If you want to share everything, share everything! I get asked a lot how much is too much? It’s what you feel comfortable with and what your audience wants from you. They will ask you.
- Give the positives and the negatives
Ok, this is a big mistake I see people make online. They share a negative story or have a gripe about something without giving the audience any real value. You don’t want to attract that sort of energy to your online presence.
One of the fastest ways to lose your followers is to be negative or have a whinge too often.
Let me let you in on a secret.
It’s OK to have a whinge or a gripe online … but keep it constructive and professional. And if you are sharing a negative story, share the upside as well. What happened when you had that negative experience? What did you learn? What will you or won’t you do again? What are your tips moving forward for your readers?
Leave them on a positive and a high. They will love you all the more and have a newfound respect for your too.
5 places to use more stories
- Social media videos
The most common place is going to be on the social platforms where stories are really easy to use … Instagram, SnapChat and Facebook.
Now we get to star in our own mini documentary of our daily lives. Being more raw and real on social media allows businesses and brands to show a new side to themselves that will allow people to get to know them on a deeper level.
- Blogs, newsletters and email writing
Make sure you are sharing stories in all of your content marketing areas, blogs, newsletters and emails series are no exception. Long gone are the days of just sharing information for information’s sake. Share some facts about yourself and your clients through the power of storytelling.
Advertising has changed over the years, we are seeing more and more stories in ads, especially on social media, because they sell.
Many ads are telling short inspirational stories. Often they will be emotional, motivational or funny, and people need more of that in lives, hence why advertisers are jumping on board. Ads take us away from our normal life to someplace we’d rather be!
Every web page should have a story and there should also be a section for “success stories” on your site – yours and your clients. Your audience wants to know how you can help, so anywhere you can share this, share it as a story. People appreciate case studies when they are researching and looking for social proof to base their decision on.
- Webinars, workshops, coaching and courses
Pretty much, we should be using stories everywhere! But also consider when you are on the phone to a prospect or even a client, as well webinars, workshops and courses you run.
People learn from stories, so if you are delivering information in this fashion they are more likely to remember it and share it along with their friends.
The 5 “S’s” of stories (every story should have these elements)
The beginning captures attention, draws people in and keeps their eyes moving down your page; the middle builds out the facts, elaborates on the most important information, and the end re-captivates with a roundup of the story and your learnings, plus a call to action. Make it very easy to read.
You must create suspense! This is what keeps people wanting more from you. It’s what keeps eyeballs on the page or video or their ears wide open on your podcast all the way to the end.
Keep people’s interest and maintain a level of anticipation so your story isn’t predictable.
Remember we use stories as a way for people to remember us … so keep your story simple. It’s one topic per story. Keep it succinct and direct. Don’t get off track and confuse your readers. If you find you have another element to share while you are telling your story, keep it for another time. Or have it as a side note.
Does your story show relevance to your readers, will it help change their life in some way? What is the purpose for you telling this story? And how can you relate it back to your business? And theirs?
- Success stories
Experiences are powerful in the scheme of storytelling … both yourself and others.
One of the best stories you can tell is one from a successful client so others can see how you help people. Also known as a case study, these stories show social proof and we all love that!
Some other things you need to know
- Make the story about them – it’s always about your readers
- Use an image or a few images to help your audience visualise
- Mention your products – but don’t go overboard
- Personalise it and add emotion
- Solve a problem for your readers
- Share it out to all of your channels
- Always have a call to action
Stories are the quickest way you can build rapport online and offline. They are the backbone to your content and you should harness the power of storytelling and use them in everything you do in your business … when you do, you’ll reap far greater rewards than you have even known.
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