Tell me a story

Note – this post originally appeared on my agency’s blog.

Many, many brands have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon —from huge companies practically morphing into quasi-news organizations to mom-and-pops blogging to boost SEO. Content, to borrow a cliché, is king. But, the question is, what content? Recent research from the UK suggests eight out of ten readers are more likely to engage with brands that tell stories as a key part of their content marketing. Here are some guidelines on “storifying” your content to make it more attractive to your audience:

Include a human element

Consider the most mundane content you produce – is there a way to add a human element to it? Find the person behind the new product. Who came up with the innovation you’re announcing to the world in that news release? Is there someone who you can profile whose life has been improved by your offering? These are far more compelling than the typical dry lists of features and benefits. Chipotle could have produced a video of its CEO espousing brand values around nutrition and animal rights, but instead it produced a dramatic, remarkable animated short film that gathered 6 million views and won a Lion at Cannes. Now, I realize you might not have the budget Chipotle had, but that shouldn’t stop you from finding the human element to your content.

A great way to find the people behind your product is to connect with your internal audience – your employees – to gather true stories of the connections they make every day. So often they go beyond what’s required to truly make a difference in your customers’ lives.

Feature everyday people

The research also shows your content will benefit from featuring real people, saying those provide the best, most relatable stories. This means your content will gain more traction if it features a customer (or “regular” employee, as mentioned in the point above) than if it features a CEO or celebrity. You see examples of this in the content shared by RedBull and GoPro.

Have a sense of humor

Humor is another key element in successful brand stories, with a majority of respondents saying they believe it’s the genre that makes the best brand stories. In addition, consumers of all ages say they prefer humorous stories instead of inspirational or surprising ones. That might be why satirical news outlet The Onion has opened up its own content studio creating “Onionized” content for brands, including a video series poking fun of fantasy football for Lenovo.

Humanity, featuring everyday people, and a dash of humor will help engage your audience with authentic content.

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