I am a storyteller. I tell stories to connect with other people and create memorable interactions. It seems that most people like a good story, as proven by the wildly successful not-for-profit organization, The Moth, where people tell true stories to live audiences all around the country. I participate in these experiences in the Boston area, as a listener and as a performer.
So, why are so many brand stories so dry and uninteresting. How can we tell compelling stories, the kind that people gather around to hear? First, we need to understand what makes a good story. A good story connects us through our commonalities – of our humanness and all that entails. If you Google “elements of a good story”, you will find that dozens of sources claim there are somewhere between 3 and 10 elements to a good story. Memorable, impactful stories often have good guys, bad guys, disaster narrowly averted, surprises, even lives lost and saved. These elements boil down to:
1) An inciting action
4) An antagonist
5) A protagonist
While a B2C story is commonly considered easier to tell, I think the B2B story can be as easy if you can get the business lingo out of the way and share information person to person. Does corporate communications share stories about enterprise-wide, best-in-class peer-to-peer something or another, or does one of your top engineers (protagonist, real character) share how he has created software (resolution) that addresses a security threat (inciting action), created by old technology (antagonist) and will save IT managers headaches from system down time (conflict).
If you aren’t sure about your company story, it might be a good time to consider a retelling. Can you find these five elements in your story? Now, tell it in an honest, simple and meaningful way and see the moths gather to your flame.
Courtesy of Contentshortcuts.com
Information overload is a significant issue for everyone. Of the 200+ emails I receive each day, I delete half without reading. I opted to receive most of them, but I rarely have time to get past the subjects lines. I dedicate a few hours per month to unsubscribe to lists that over-communicate or share frivolous content. In the same vein, I am actively removing Twitter accounts for the same reason. It is my dream to have an efficient and relevant content feed, worthy of the time I allot to reading it.
Isn’t that what we all want?
As marketers, isn’t that our job, to know our audience and deliver the content that will help them, in the appropriate intervals? Through my PR training, I learned to write a press release knowing that a journalist might only get to the headline. Furthermore, sending one release to a specifically targeted journalist will matter far more than blanketing everyone. The same guidelines should be considered for the general public. A few good leads that result in sales are better than hundreds of unqualified ones.
This concern is #1 on Julia McCoy’s list of priorities in The 2014 Social Media Guide, which she wrote for Social Media Today.
There are many more interesting ideas in her article, which, I might add, are nearly all relevant to me, a social media marketing consultant. I will be keeping them in my Twitter feed (@socialmedia2day).
It all started in the 1960′s with Dick Clark and American Bandstand. Every Saturday morning, he would count down the top 10 songs of the week. Then in 1985, Late Night with David Letterman started making fun of People Magazine’s top 10 lists. I have always enjoyed both because they were relevant and, in the case of Letterman, funny.
List content was created to be easily digested and everyone wanted to know what the top song was, or the the top thing that “almost rhymes with peas”, in the case of Late Night. There was a time when these lists got your attention and maybe they still do, but I have recently come across so many that I have soured. Are you itching to know what my #1 reason I don’t like Top Ten Lists?
I don’t have 10, only 3. Read On.
Drum roll, please. The top 3 reasons I have soured on 10 lists:
#3 10 is too many. Who has that kind of attention span anymore?
#2 The entertainment value of lists has gone way down. I will take quality entertainment over quantity any day of the week.
And the #1 Reason I have soured on Top 10 lists is…
#1 Overuse. When a marketing device becomes so common that it makes a marketer cringe, well then, it’s time for something else.
See today’s recent tweets at the right for some examples. You get what I mean, right?