How To Use Storytelling To Brand Content

“Nobody wants to be sold to,” said Scott Anger, an Award-winning journalist, documentarian, and storytelling purist. He spoke passionately to a small crowd last night for the inaugural Content Strategy Los Angeles Meetup, sponsored by Coloft and organized by yours truly. “Everyone has a story they can tell,” Scott said, “Regardless if you’re telling it online, with a pen, or video.”

Scott gave us a few pointers on how to create content that sells without selling. “Keep it honest. You don’t have to make up stuff. Tell a real story about real people,” said Scott. There was also a huge emphasis on quality of product and visuals, even if you don’t use video. And for goodness sakes, make sure you’re relating on an emotional level. Nike’s “Girl Effect” campaign was the top example in all categories  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIvmE4_KMNw.

Scott harped on the importance of storytelling as a way for entrepreneurs to create a differentiated identity. “Storytelling is what brands us and engages our customers,” Scott said, making an example on Mr. Toilet (http://vimeo.com/35914566) . Mr. T is a businessman turned “sanitation superhero” who gave an identity to the fight of billions of Indians whose lives are threatened by the lack of sanitation infrastructure. With the help of this unmistakable character, Mr. Toilet is telling India’s story and changing the world.

To build a story Scott says you must understand your audience deeply. He learned quickly from his days running the LA Times online division that (user) data is king, and I’m not talking visitors or hits. The gold today is in the shareability of your content. How many comments? Re-Tweets? Scott says those should be your benchmark for success.

Next, you need to know how your users take their content. Do they prefer stills to video because they can’t watch at work? When do they tune in? The answers to these questions will direct the type of media best for your audience. Then tell your story using the traditional story arch, consisting of a customer-driven driven plot of their plight complete with a resolution starring your company as the hero.

There’s real power in storytelling. Facts are not the whole story. And thanks to the internet, we have 24-7 access to what Scott calls “minimal barriers storytelling.”

“Nobody, not even the journalists, can tell your story as well as you,” said Scott.  “And your website is a perfect distribution platform.”

Hey, if Mr. Toilet can make the commode sexy, just imagine what you can do with your product!

 

Resources:

Ira Glass four-part series on storytelling – YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loxJ3FtCJJA

This American Life. Amazing storytelling on radio by Ira Glass

http://www.pri.org/this-american-life.html

Nancy Duarte: The Secret Structure of Great Talks at TED Talks

http://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_duarte_the_secret_structure_of_great_talks.html

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