As a website content writer, did you believe your love of stories got left in creative writing class? What was your first thought when you heard storytelling and marketing worked well together?
Perhaps the answers depend on the generation with which you best relate. But, modern marketing strategies prove incomplete without the ancient art of storytelling.
The tales that weave our lives into meaning. Reveal who we are and who we are becoming. Reminisce of our past and bring purpose to our future.
In fact, scientists would say stories are so integral to who we are that our minds weave stories where gaps of information exist. Yes, storytelling is that natural to us.
And, this propensity for a well-told tale impacts all areas of our lives including our personal lives, leadership roles and business marketing content. Not sure? Let’s take a deeper look.
What Stories Mean to Us
Universal across cultures, languages and generations, stories weave what was with what will be. They share history, entertain, offer order and a deeper meaning to experiences while connecting us with previous generations and with one another.
Sense of History
Before the written word came to be, oral storytelling traditions passed cultural norms and events from generation to generation. Even early cultures wrote creatively by using rock art, cave wall drawings, dance, carved tree trunks and even tattooing to visually share memories.
Legends, folktales and fables instruct. Tradition teaches. And, history tells of family adventures. Whether carved on bones or ivory, etched on rocks or clay tablets, or inked onto silk, canvas or paper, stories delight and inform while connecting previous generations with the current one.
Order Arising From Chaos
Stories help us create order out of the chaos of life, particularly emotional chaos. In other words, narratives make sense of our world even if only in our minds.
The truth is, according to researcher, Brené Brown, the story can be based on false information. As long as the narrative brings order to the confusion, we use it.
Unity With One Another
Furthermore, stories foster connection. Research indicates the brains of storytellers and their listeners actually link up. The explanation goes that the same areas of the brain activate in both the storyteller and the engaged listener breeding emotional connection.
Furthermore, factual information only engages two areas of the brain whereas a story engages several areas across it, similar to the activities of living. The understanding is that hearing a good story is the same to your brain as actually experiencing the situations yourself.
The fundamental basis of our love for storytelling is the purpose it brings to our lives. Programmed to pick out patterns of information and give them meaning, our brains naturally gravitate to the stories we see and hear.
Also, the brain activity that listeners experience along with the storyteller gives them a sense that these woven tales are personal. And, this adds to our narrative and reveals a sense of purpose whether our understanding of stories proves true or otherwise.
Changing Our Story
Researcher and storyteller, Brené Brown surmises, “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.” Yes, the plot of our story is changeable.
Actually, renewing the same story in our minds leads us to a place of being stuck. And, while rewriting our past is beyond our control, understanding our history through stories gives us the ability to make a change. But, we have to be willing to go to difficult places.
The Art of a Well-Crafted Story
Ever been enthralled by the storyteller around the campfire or at the neighborhood picnic or holiday party? You recognize them by the crowd that gathers and laughs or gasps in unison, the crowd which is compelled to stay until the final word drops.
These unbeknownst-to-themselves artists teach the art of a well-crafted story. Listen for the following qualities next time you are at a gathering.
To reach a range of individuals, stories speak to the basics of our humanity and touch our vulnerabilities. They pull on common themes and draw us in from the get-go.
A well-told story recognizes those human experiences, particularly emotional ones, which many of us relate to regardless of age, gender, race, culture or other differences. Tapping into these ideas with a hook in the first line of the story gets attention.
Furthermore, the release of chemicals in our bodies due to an emotional reaction raises a response. For instance, fear, surprise and curiosity increase cortisol levels. In physical situations, this hormone encourages fight or flight.
With written or visual content, this steroid moves us to imagine the solution, to finish the story. Hence, with content which spurs these emotions, the reader is engaged, scrolling further or turning the page to resolve the angst.
The release of the bonding chemical, oxytocin, occurs during storytelling as well. And, as mentioned, the listener becomes connected with the storyteller and the characters. Like a mother and child or similar to two lovers, we experience emotional bonding.
For instance, in a study by Paul Zak, when strangers heard a story of an ill boy, levels of oxytocin increased as did monetary giving to the boy’s cause. In fact, the video viewing group proved 80 percent more generous than those who saw a less compelling video.
Relating to the storyteller or the characters of a tale offers insight and value to readers. In fact, research reveals that the more we understand and relate to a story, the greater our empathy and likelihood to act.
Furthermore, a story raises a product’s perceived value as well. Skeptical? Consider the ordinary, everyday objects which sell for far beyond their worth due to the story that accompanies them on who owned the items or what eras they visited. (For more proof, read about the Significant Objects Project.)
Stories also help readers retain information. Yes, storytelling engages the memory centers of the brain and promotes later recall. And, the more details, the more memorable the facts become.
Practice it yourself. Attempt to memorize a list of facts. Then, create a story around those facts and see if the task proves easier.
The skills built into listening to stories transfer to our everyday lives. And, in this regard, good stories move us to action. In other words, they inspire us.
Time and again studies support the idea that stories affect neurochemical brain processes and change behavior. For instance, tales of heroism lead to increased acts of altruism and storytelling around health issues improves health outcomes.
Weaving Storytelling Into Marketing Content
Brené Brown poses the idea that “Maybe stories are just data with a soul.” And, it seems the value of using storytelling in marketing content supports this hypothesis. But, how does storytelling effectively weave into marketing content?
Worldview and Story Delivery
Effective storytelling offers relatable characters and relevant plot lines. Think back to the last novel you simply could not put down. Which elements held your interest?
In this light, knowing your audience proves vital in delivering a tale which impacts readers. But, you must go beyond demographics to understand your readers’ beliefs. This worldview colors what people see and read, and it provides a framework for your story.
Finally, choose wisely your delivery and angle. Even a fantastic story falls on deaf ears if the delivery is flat or the hook is missing. What language, format, voice and curiosity best engage your audience? Find out and write from that perspective.
Marketing story webs subtly weave your brand into your content. The main idea is to remain true to the qualities of your brand while making your audience the hero of your story. In other words, it is not all about you.
You accomplish this by showcasing the values of your brand as core story themes. But, keep in mind that the practical solution is not what draws people. It is the transformation.
While your audience needs a practical solution, look beyond this fact to the emotional or life transformation which your product provides. Focusing on this element of your audience creates compelling stories.
Caution: Avoid storytelling overkill. In other words, be aware that some important marketing tactics do not need to tell a story. In fact, some stories contain no brand mention at all and still lead readers in an intentional direction.
While weaving words allows a writer to take readers on an imagined adventure, pictures and visuals prove a potent tool for doing the same. With the growing interest in infographics and the popularity of platforms such as Instagram, our human pull to the visual proves itself again and again.
Companies are using visual storytelling to draw readers into content in several ways. Check out these ideas:
- Real life advertising replaces fashion models with people who could be our friends engaging in life and activity. In an instant, we want to join them rock climbing, hanging at the beach or working together.
- Thought out single photos construct a real life fantasy by incorporating company values into the layout and characters represented. With one glance, you know the story of the company.
- Think art. The feelings produced by and depth of meaning behind pieces of art illustrate how to weave a story through a web page’s aesthetics.
- Even statistics get an eye-appealing boost through visual representations and infographics. And, seeing numbers in pictures helps us put the pieces together and remember the facts through story.
- Compelling videos give readers a story in motion. Plus, in a short time span, you share a wealth of information through imagery.
Listen around the water cooler, in the pub after work or take a peak at any social media site to understand the shareability of stories. Tales true, false, outright gossip or twisted get passed around social circles.
Realizing the power of a story, Snapchat and Instagram launched similar versions of Stories. This feature allows Instagrammers and Snapchatters to link photos rather than showing snippets of life through individual frames. (Check out the article Why and How to Use Instagram Stories on Social Media Today.)
Using these formats and others to spread stories and even birth new storytellers moves your message quickly. It also gives you the opportunity to interact with your audience and get creative with postings.
All the creativity in the worlds means nil if you miss the mark with your audience. So, again, statistics and analytics play a valuable role as you integrate stories into your content.
The discipline of business requires a positive impression by and action on the part of the consumer. Therefore, testing the ability of your stories to make your brand positively memorable and influence behavior proves vital.
Whether your goal is simply to connect with your audience, build awareness or reap a more tangible call to action, measurability is important to refining content. Be clear about what you desire to achieve, create measures and visit them on a regular basis to determine the true power of your stories in your marketing efforts.
Success of a Website Content Writer Using Stories
For all those who thought creativity such as storytelling rested outside the facts and figures of business, the truth is they are integral to one another. Remember, your audience uses both.
Success as a website content writer in terms of using stories requires careful consideration of your audience’s worldview, your story delivery, branding efforts and social sharing power. And, you are certain to see the positive impact in the live results.
A few final hints:
- Real life advertising is gaining momentum over airbrushed, perfected models and ads.
- Role models offer a contemporary storytelling alternative to fashion models.
- Real customer Instagram photos bring authenticity and consumer stories to the forefront of your campaign.
- Audience stories breathe life and authenticity through photos, success stories and testimonials.
- Remember, stories take time. So, creatively spin the tale and give it time to work its magic.
Feeling confident as a website content writer to weave stories into your copy? Great! Comment below on how you use storytelling successfully.
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