Everyone loves a good story. We love telling them, reading them, watching them and listening to them. But have you ever stopped to think about why we love stories so much? Maybe it's because we've been using stories for so long.
In fact, stories have been the foundation of how humans have communicated for more than 20,000 years. Every day, we tell and consume stories; they give us comfort. So now the question is, are you using stories as part of your content? If not, you should.
Stories follow a framework. There’s a beginning, middle and end. They also include common elements like characters, a challenge and a resolution.
This framework and these elements provide structure for your reader and let's face it, humans, for the most part, like structure. As we journey through a story, the framework lets us know where we are.
That’s compelling, but there's more that illustrates why stories are powerful: when we interact with a story - that is, read, watch, listen to or even create one - our brains release chemicals to make it seem as if we are part of the story.
For example, dopamine is released when the story builds suspense. Cortisol is released during high-stress parts of the story, and oxytocin is released when there is a happy ending. It also helps you identify with the protagonist.
This release of hormones helps you empathize with the characters within the story, root for the good guy, and hope the bad guy gets their comeuppance.
What's more, stories inspire people to want to act. While data can persuade people, it doesn't inspire them to act the way stories do.
Finally, stories are memorable. You can’t deny that a good story is hard to forget. Heck, even a bad story can stick in one’s mind for a while. Research shows that stories are 22 times more memorable than facts and figures.
What do stories have to do with content? The answer is plenty.
You can use stories in a variety of different types of content to further engage your audience and establish a connection. Rather than tossing out a bunch of data or boring corporate-ese, you can weave in a story to simply humanize your content or drive home a point. Either way, stories provide an extra dose of "oomph" for your reader and a way for them to easily remember you.
Here are a few places you can use stories in your content:
1. Your website - of course, your website often provides your prospects with their first impression of you so you want to provide the information they need and how you can help them. While your home page might not be the most optimal place for a story (or, depending on your business and audience, it might be), the About section is an excellent spot for one.
Who says your About page has to be boring and drab? It's where people go to learn about you so why not add some color to it with a good story? It could be about why you started your business, what it was like in the early days, an epic failure and how it shaped who you are now, a profound experience, wisdom from a mentor, or so many other things. The opportunities really are endless, so have fun with them.
2. Blog articles - this may seem like a no brainer, but there are plenty of blog posts out there that are data-driven but have no stories to back up the data. Even if you don’t have data, if you have a good story to tell, use your blog to tell it.
3. Podcasts - what better way to engage your podcast audience than with a good story?
4. Case studies - case studies are also known as customer success stories. They tell the story about how you helped your customer with a particular challenge and the benefits they are now seeing.
When you use stories in your content, you helping your audience see themselves in you. They not only will empathize with you, they also will want to act. Stories inspire people to take the next step.
Stories connect us to one another which is the goal of your content - to engage and connect - so doesn't it make sense to use stories? It doesn't have to be difficult but it does have to make sense. To see where stories can work for you, evaluate your upcoming content and determine where if you can include a story, either about a customer you helped, a problem you solved or both.
And if you need help, don't hesitate to contact me.