Writing an engaging blog post is one of the biggest challenges for many bloggers. Every day, thousands of posts are published on the internet.
All of the marketers are trying to capture readers’ attention. So, a reader has so many things to read. How can you get the reader to go through your content?
An effective way is to include a story in the blog post and write the post in narrative way.
A story-embedded blog post contains a problem that is similar to a reader and a solution of the problem. Sounds interesting? Let’s delve into the matter to understand the procedure.
Here is the outline that I am going to discuss in the following sections.
- What is storytelling
- Storytelling in content marketing
- Why storytelling works
- Elements of a good story
- What stories to include in a blog post
- How to incorporate stories in blog post
- 2 Examples of storytelling blog post
- Storytelling mistakes
- Storytelling best practices
What is Storytelling?
Storytelling is an art of expression that conveys a sequence of events. It is an old and powerful communication tool to transfer knowledge.
In every culture, the medium has been used for years to entertain and educate people. Great stories contain a message like moral values. Traditional forms of storytelling are fables, fairy tales, folktales, legends, mythology, etc.
Storytelling in content marketing
At present, storytelling has become widespread. In the business world, it is a powerful and actionable marketing tool, especially for digital marketers.
The marketers are using a storytelling narrative technique to clarify difficult concepts and engage people in their content. It is an effective way to build a strong relationship with prospective clients.
However, storytelling is not about offering a product directly. It is an indirect way to persuade people to engage with the brand.
Why have storytelling works?
Various researches have been conducted on storytelling and there have a number of reasons why it works.
Stories can change the brain’s chemistry. When captivated by an emotionally engaging story, the brain produces oxytocin, a substance shown to increase generosity, compassion, trustworthiness, and sensitivity to social cues.
When people see a likeness of their own struggles in a story, they pay attention to the story and read it. A relevant story works as emotional stimuli and connects the audience psychologically.
In addition, people tend to remember information better if it is presented in a narrative way instead of a list of facts. Our brain processes data from its language part only. But when we read a story, multiple levels of the brain become activated.
Our brain craves stories. Most of us love daydreaming and we stop this when we find a good story in front of us.
When we read a story we feel an experience and our mind synchronizes with the subject of the story. Scientists call it neural coupling.
During the process of storytelling, a listener or reader’s brain functions in the same way as the speaker’s brain. Successful synchronization results in better understanding, comprehension, and receptiveness.
Elements of a good story
There are five basic elements of a story – a setting, relevant characters, a plot, a conflict and a resolution. The elements are important to develop a story in a logical way, and keep the story running.
These are just the basics. The procedure involves more things to consider.
A story is developed in three parts – a beginning, middle and an end. The beginning part of the story introduces settings, characters, and the plot to engage the audience. The plot is developed in the middle part. The part includes a level of conflict, some unanswered questions, and expectation. And the conflict is resolved in the end part.
The plot is the foundation of a story where the entire story is built on. Every story has three parts – the beginning, middle and the end. Every plot has five stages –
- Exposition – introduces main characters and settings
- Rising action – introduce a crisis, complication, tension, excitement etc.
- Climax – the protagonist’s worst moment
- Falling action – the problem diminishes because of some actions and decisions.
- Resolution – ending the problem
A setting introduces location, time, season, weather, environment, etc. However, you don’t need to give details of every single matter. Instead, include the relevant ones those are interesting and useful. Make the setting dynamic and use it to deliver specific information to your readers. A good setting will help your readers visualize the story better and let them feel connected to the plot.
Every story has a main character that solves the problem that the story centers upon. The character is also known a protagonist. The protagonist determines the way of plot development. There are some other characters circling the protagonist. A well-rounded major and minor character drives the story forward.
A story becomes boring if it lacks some kind of conflict. A good story is centered on a conflict and the characters attempt of resolve it.
It is the final stage of the story, where the conflict is resolved. It should match the tone of the story. It is important to determine in beginning that how the story will end.
In this stage, you are helping your readers to reach to the point ‘B’ from the point ‘A’.
What stories to include in a blog post
Now you might be wondering about what stories you have to use? Do you need to come up with a fantasy story type idea? Don’t worry; it is easier than you probably think. All you need to pick a suitable example from your surroundings and express the example in a narrative way.
How you present is much more important than what you present. – boostblogtraffic.com
You can pick a story from your own life or from other people’s experience. Make sure the story is attuned to the context. It does not matter how little your story is, but it does matter how you express it. Here are a few ways to collect stories to share with your audience.
- Personal experience: You may fall into an awful situation in your life and get success overcoming the problem. If the story is relatable to the topic, include it in your writing. It will increase your credibility. The audience will consider you as a knowledgeable person on the topic.
- You customers’ story: Do you have a number of satisfied customers of your product? Try to find out a story from their feedbacks. I am sure; you will discover a compelling story to share with your audience. Tell your readers how your idea, business or product helped someone to get his solution. Your audience will love the story when they will find someone similar to them. They will relate themselves to the story.
- Other people’s stories: You can leverage other people’s stories to create a powerful content. Thousands of stories are there on the internet. Pick a well-suited story from there, and create content around the story. Don’t forget to give reference to the story source.
- Your creative voice: Writers are by nature creative. You can use the skill to create a story. No, I am not telling you to be untruth with your audience. But you can be a fortune teller for your reader. Create a good or a bad scenario for adopting a change in their life.
- Use image and data: Picture tells a thousand words and our brains process pictures 60,000 times faster than texts. So use images to tell stories. Some stories you can generate from facts and statistics. You can relate a statistical data in blog topic like – how a simple tweak in your promotion strategy have increased 1,000 page views of a post.
How to incorporate stories in blog post
You need to determine two main things before you begin writing a story – one idea and a compelling hook. The idea is your message that you are trying to say to your audience. It is applicable to all of your readers, regardless of their backgrounds and experiences.
The point of a great story is to draw your reader in, entertain them, and leave them with a message. – boostblogtraffic.com
Attention grabbing blog title and opening paragraph work as a compelling hook for the story. Write a thought-provoking title that will make your reader think that “Here may be something for me, let’s read…”
A headline attracts readers’ attention, but opening sentence retains the attention. Let’s look at an example of David Sedaris’ first sentence.
As a favor to my pastor, Carlton Manning has hired me to work at his service station even though I am unable to drive. – thecopybot.com
After you figure out a deliverable message and persuasive hook, your next job is to integrate your story in the blog post based on the elements of the story.
1.Create a setting and introduce the characters: In blog storytelling, include only useful and interesting information to introduce setting of the story, instead of giving details of every single matter. Your role is either a protagonist or a narrator. So, there is a “you” in the story in either case. Here is an example to introduce other characters of the story.
…my wife called me to ask if I would be home for our daughter’s first recital in school. My boss was out for meeting so I had a few minutes to spare. While talking to her, I looked upon my hand and for a minute what I saw, froze me…
2. Introduce a conflict: State a problem that you confronted in your business. In that time, you were not sure how to solve that problem. Here is an example of the conflict:
Sometimes a Google Alert comes in that wakes you up. Like last Wednesday, when I found out I had died. It was kind of weird because I wasn’t really expecting it. I was just reading along and, bam, there it was: my death notice.
3. Develop the plot: Follow the basic three parts of a story – the beginning, middle and the end. As you narrate the story, include suspense, curiosity, climax and other emotional matters to immerse the readers. Use appropriate words and phrases to touch your readers’ emotions. Also, maintain the rhythm and flow of the story.
4. Dissolve the suspense: Just declaration of ending is not enough for a blog’s story. It needs to be more specific, where you have to solve all the problems along with explanations. Let your readers know about your opinion, the way of thinking, how you change your mind and what made you change your decision. Here is a good example of resolution:
If you are a solopreneur or small business owner, and people relate to your name rather than your business, it makes sense to keep an eye on the places you are appearing on the web. You may not have died, like I did, but one of your name-alikes might have done something truly dreadful, like embezzling the company’s receipts, or breaking into a family’s house and drinking all the Scotch. Here are some things you can do to separate yourself from them: …
Finish your story in an open discussion way. Leave a great impact on your readers’ mind, so that they want to make comments to ask questions or give suggestions. Or they may simply give you thanks.
2 Examples of storytelling blog post.
A most popular blog post of Neil Patel is – How Spending $162,301.42 on Clothes Made Me $692,500. In this post, Neil shared his story with readers. The post has got 11.3k shares and 100+ comments up to now.
Another popular post of Jon Morrow is – How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World. It has got total 15.6k shares in different social media channels up to now. In another post – How I Wrote Posts That Touched the Hearts of More Than 5 Million People – he disclosed the secret behind writing heart-touching posts.
Storytelling is a great way to engage readers and attract customers in a brand. Some marketers consider storytelling tool as a magic bullet to get people take an action. But when a story goes bad, it results in a waste of someone’s time and impacts negatively on business.
Why stories go bad? Here are a few reasons that cause a misleading story:
- Presenting false stories: Storytelling is a natural way to communicate with readers and persuade them. To some degree, your readers trust you. So ethically you shouldn’t break the trust. In a false story, you tend to present wrong facts and omit important information. An inconsistency may develop in the story and it may change the way of understanding.
- Sharing irrelevant stories: A novel or movie is a story. But it barely will help a business selling product or services online. Such story will fail to engage right sort of customer. In addition, it will not make sense in business context.
- Telling a boring story: Content marketing stories are not similar to the stories written for entertainment purpose. ‘A girl meets a boy…’ type story will entertain the TV audience or novel readers, but not business customers. This sort of story becomes boring and cliché tale for the readers. In content marketing, the purpose of a story is engagement. The stories should be unique and meaningful.
- Express the story unconvincingly: All marketers tell stories, but few of the stories catch our attention. You may have a great story to share with your audience, but you fail to tell it persuasively, your audience won’t believe you. Storytelling telling is an art that requires a good level of expertise and skill.
- Sharing unnecessary stories: Storytelling has become one of the content marketing buzzwords these days. Sometimes companies are including unnecessary and controversial stories without a good business reason.
Storytelling is a powerful tool in content marketing, but it is not the only tool of marketing. We should use it judiciously.
Storytelling best practices
It is pretty much difficult to find a specific guideline to craft a compelling story. How expert storytellers establish their own voice? They develop this after years of practice. They follow some undefined rules to write a story. Here are a few guidelines you can follow to craft a narrative post.
- Know your audience: Before you develop a story, you need to identify your audience – to whom you are going to tell the story. Understand your ideal audience. For a business story, your ideal audience is your target customer.
- Tell a relatable story: Pick a story where your audience will find a personal connection to it. When you relate them in the story they will feel the content important for them.
- Make it dynamic: When you write a text-based story for blog post, follow web standard writing rules – readability, voice, and style. Include quote, personal anecdotes, and related images to make it a vibrant story.
- Take time for preparation: This is the key to developing a great story. Determine what you are going to say and how you are going to say. What things you are going to include in the story – history of your brand, key executive, statistics, quotes etc. Gather as much information as you can in advance.
- Focus on active narration: A story becomes boring when it only shows – what happened to the protagonist. Instead, focus on a character’s activity – actions and decisions. It will keep the readers engaged and make the story more interesting.
- Control pace of the story: Too slow narration will lose the interest of the audience. And too fast narration will make the story difficult for readers to catch your idea. A story needs both types of speed and you have to maintain the pace according to the situation.
- Use conversational language: Success of a story mostly depends on the way you talk to your audience. Readers relate themselves in the story when you talk in their language.
Over to you