As members of a content writing team, we strive to get better at
- gathering facts,
- synthesizing the information,
- gaining insight
- sending a truthful and engaging message.
One way to make our content more engaging is to create stories.
When tasking someone to write a blog, I usually mention various list of blog templates.
- what is post
Depending on where you look, there are many more templates. Missing in the advise is how to actually write any of these templates.
Then I go to a short explanation how you should have
- a main idea,
- 5 supporting sub ideas
- building up the sub ideas with support information
- make things more interesting with figures of speach
- achieving a flow with transitional sentences
- writing a conclusion then the introduction
Somehow there was still friction or inertia that made the writing process slow and difficult. It was specially difficult tying it together and having a good flow. There was something missing.
Stories naturally draw people in to a conversation. We gravitate towards good stories.
Stories provide connection, a beginning an end, provides a flow to the data. It makes data make sense.
Stories are easier to remember.
Regardless of what you are sharing: plain numbers, researched information, interview answers, description of some media, remember to speak to your audience. Talk to them as if they were a single persona in front of you. Discuss with them how you can help them overcome their challenges.
After reading my colleagues blog, it made sense (exactly) that story-telling as the form of content may helps the conversation.
Stories are a way for a brand to nurture relationships with its audience.
From this point, we'll be using the word "story" and "content" and a few others interchangeably. That’s because we'll try to present content as a story.
How do you tell a story?
Let's consider 4 steps: clarify, build, verify, storify
When you storify, strive to answer these questions:
- Who are you talking to?
- Why do they need to know these information?
- How can it help them?
- What is the next action?
Having a clarity of who you're talking helps you empathize. Being empathetic provides guardrails for your language, voice, tone, coverage. It reminds you how you communicate and remain comprehensible in general. Being clear on their purpose keeps you on topic. Having an end in mind provides you an end point of your story. Once you reach the end, what better way to send your audience off than sharing something actionable.
Gather the data you need for your topic.
Research. Check reliable sites on the internet and confirm through other credible sites or ask opinions from experts. Look for information that will support your ideas. Statistics are good for lending veracity of your claims. Make sure to cite your sources.
Interview. You don’t have to leave your homes. You can email experts. Reach out to them via their public social media accounts. Make sure you introduce yourself well, and let them know that you plan to publish their answers. Give them a link to your company’s website so they can judge for themselves if they want to be a part of your content. Send your questions on your email. You’ll be surprised how many experts would want to make their views known.
Another option in asking experts is to write the draft first, and then you can email it, and ask for their opinions or inputs. This is a great way for you to collaborate and make your piece thorough and credible.
You can make content even without interviewing experts. You can rely on the treasure trove of content online. But expert interviews could be valuable in certain types of content and goes a long way.
Analyze. When the topic allows it, process the data and derive equally credible output. This true with numbers. I mean 1+1 is 2. The same may be said with rationalizations with sound logic based on facts.
We live in an age when inaccurate or distorted information. It is paramount to double check our information. Truthful and credible sources are not only available but very accessible. Our colleague used to work with CNN. Their rule of thumb is to verify with three credible sources. Only then can they publish a story. Tough? Yes. But, let's have standards shall we?
Once your data and your facts are triple checked, it’s time to step back. Along with your own ideas, see how you can deliver knowledge and your insights as a story. Storify your content.
Deliver as if you’re telling a friend about it. As you put your thoughts into words, don't be surprised to find yourself editing. That's okay. It's normal to not to get to include all the details that you know or have gathered. Avoid the temptation of putting everything in. This is especially true since you worked hard to gather these information. But a successful story has to have bite-sized, digestible pieces of information.
Before you go
Make sure your audience can manage the information. Give them a chance to process before you present them with more information. Watch your pacing.
Also keep in mind the sheer amount of ideas you want to put across. The bottom line is give your audience — the friend you're sharing your story with — a chance to take away two or three pieces of good information from your piece.
Save other data and ideas for your next story.
One guiding principle I stick to in telling my stories? Simplify. And you can only simplify if you know a lot about your topic. That’s why research is key.
It is that gold mine of knowledge that you now have, that will allow you to craft that simple but memorable piece.
We love learning. We'd like it if we could learn from you.
How do you make your content engaging? Leave us a word or 2. Let us know in the comments.