From the beginning of time, people have responded to stories because of the way they relate human issues, capture the imagination, and draw us in. By telling a story, you can connect emotionally and make abstract or confusing concepts more relatable. When done correctly, storytelling can be an extremely powerful marketing and public relations tool. Great stories capture the attention of the media, employees, customers, and potential hires. They personalize the brand and can ingratiate it to the target audience.
As a ghost writer, I serve as the brand storyteller for my clients. I help their organizations connect emotionally with stakeholders by crafting stories that include information they want remembered, communicate data that resonates through the use of similes and metaphors, and contains language that persuades them to take action. A lot of work goes into creating a good story in today’s digital world – so much more than simply sharing facts and data.
Just think about how much content you consume in a single day – multiple social media feeds, news sites, magazine sites, text messages, email messages. On top of that, journalists and reporters are inundated with press release feeds with endless headlines. That’s a lot of messaging to weed your way through. It’s no wonder social media fatigue, news fatigue, and email fatigue are prevalent and why it’s become so difficult to catch the eye of the media. We live in a world of information overload!
There’s also something called story fatigue (Kellogg School of Management). Every business you know is sharing their story. So if you want to cut through the media clutter, you need to take the time to do your research. You want to reach the right audience with the right type of story that will resonate with them specifically. There are different types of business stories. The “capital S” story hones a leader’s vision and purpose, while “little S” stories contain anecdotes taken from the leader’s experience or daily work or personal life. I like to keep these distinctions in mind when crafting my clients’ stories as each will have a decidedly different impact.
Things to 5 Things to Focus On When Drafting a Digital Story
Stakeholders only have so much time, energy and attention. Here’s what I do to win the digital storytelling fatigue battle.
1. Target the Right Audience
I do a deep dive to determine who I need to connect with and what’s important to them. I look at website analytics to learn more about my client’s customers and the content that is engaging them, as well as review social media and LinkedIn insights to see which topics are generating the most likes, shares and comments. From there, I develop the reader persona, a kind of audience profile. Remember, there is a difference between personal brand storytelling and business brand storytelling. In business brand storytelling, you need to know your audience and tell THEIR story to them. The more focused the audience, the more common threads you will have for your story. You may need to sway leadership, but it’s important to note that in storytelling bigger numbers aren’t always better. When you have the right niche audience, you can create content that truly connects.
2. Select the Details and Nuances
So the right people relate to the story, I focus on even the most minute details and identify the nuances that will foster real connections. For the story to resonate, the messaging cannot be blatant; it must be in your face but subtle at the same time. For example, I like to write about the business problems leaders experience everyday. I glean content from conversations with my clients, carefully paying attention to the things they are dealing with, whether they be personnel issues, supply chain, communication issues, etc., on a regular basis. To create content that comes across as authentic and genuine, I put myself in my client’s shoes.
3. Write in Second Person
The use of the word “you” really helps with building a connection. You want to guide the reader through the details so that they can envision themselves as the person in your story. When you achieve this, you can guide them from interest to action, i.e., becoming a follower of your brand or buying what you are selling.
4. Let Data Drive the Story
Data doesn’t lie. I’m a strong believer in building your story around real data. That’s why I dig through digital media analytics and insights to find the right topics and keywords to drive my headline and content. This is how you create digital content that really sticks.
5. Include a Call to Action
Personal stories have an end. Business brand stories need a Call To Action message. You want the audience to take that next step and buy into what you are selling. The Call To Action could be learn more, watch a video, buy now – whatever best fits. A Call to Action message in the form of a question is how I close every LinkedIn post. It’s a proven engagement tool.
When you have a headline and content that intimately speaks to life experiences and pain points, you have mastered digital storytelling that resonates.