Once upon a time, there was no internet. We lived with getting our stories from the television, the wireless (the radio to you), newspapers and from the bloke in the pub. Life was simpler in some ways.
I remember the exciting talk around the office in 1993, when some bright spark had managed to get onto a US forum called Bianca’s Smut Shack …says it all really. From this day forward the world would never be the same.
When Google appeared in 1995, it transformed how we found and, subsequently, how we absorbed information. We type in a word, and we get millions of results – everything at our fingertips. When we publish a blog post on LinkedIn, it nestles serenely with the other thousand odd posts also published that minute.
So, with the amount of Zetabytes of info out there; have we changed the way we write and tell stories?
Storytelling is all about making a connection with the audience. This means thoroughly understanding your audience , but that’s another story. The best ones have all the components of traditional stories – characters, conflicts, and resolutions. Simple eh?
Stories are how we remember. So that means that you need to stand out by telling a story with the right context, and create contrast by being consistent and authentic.
But I think there’s more to it than just that; there has to be an emotional connection. A spark of humanity. With all of the news articles on Hurricane Irma – one of the top viewed videos on BBC News today was of a girl who, on her first date, got stuck in a window frame, whilst trying to dispose of some unflushed poo. It’s bonkers I know, but we’re all fascinated as to why she did this. It seems that this connects with our feelings. Remarkably, I had a friend send me a link to this video – he saw it and thought of me! That aside, the power of this human story and the emotion that it stirred, has encouraged loads of people to share it. It may be funny, but we can almost feel her pain. The other top three videos included a woman stealing a police car and a story of an Irish family chasing a bat! Hurricane Irma? In 5th place. There will be human stories coming out of the devastation, and these will no doubt cause enough emotion for people to view and share them – satellite pictures of the hurricane will not.
So, always start with the why. This will get you to the point of communicating with feelings. Even if people don’t agree with your reasons for doing it; they are feeling an emotion and this is getting you to the right place. Humans remember more of this emotional connection and this is what sticks in their mind.
Then you can do the ‘how’. In the ‘window girl’ story, we wanted to know how she had done this – it’s a natural progression and important for the story. Could we imagine ourselves doing this? When writing B2B stories; it comes down to how you can help the audience with what you’re doing. ‘What’s in for them’ is a great place to start. Selfishness is a human behaviour that we’re all familiar with in some way or another.
Finally, you can tell them what. What are you offering? By this time you should be well into your story and your reader should on the same page. This is a good place to be because when you are talking about the what, you’re appealing to the analytical side of the brain – or the left side. The problem with shuffling this up the order of your story (as described above) is that it’s easily forgotten. The emotional connection is not.
With that all done, you can share this with your audience and maybe stand out a little from the sixty thousand other posts that hour.