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Are you telling overdog or underdog stories?

I attended a function recently and was introduced to a guy I hadn’t met before. He asked me what I did, and then cut me short and proceeded to spend 20 minutes telling me all about his wonderful life. How well his business was doing, his six-figure income that was...

Felix Baumgartner didn’t feel a thing

On the 14th of October 2012 Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner became the first skydiver to complete a free fall jump from the stratosphere back to earth. He used a helium balloon to ascend to an incredible 39km above the earth. On his descent he reached an...

Sweet and Salty Stories

I’m not a big popcorn eater but I do have a weakness for Sweet and Salty popcorn made by Sweet As Popcorn in Raglan, NZ. There’s something about the contrast of sweet and salty flavours and the way that they interact with my palate that I find intriguing and...

Forget storytelling and start storymaking!

Imagine for a moment, that you have invented something totally novel that will revolutionise the world. Your ‘Aha!’ moment has arrived. You can’t believe no one has thought of this thing! It’s going to be fantastic and life-changing! You spend months building the...

What can content marketers learn from Dr Seuss?

Dr Seuss, one of the world’s greatest storytellers, can teach us Thing One and Thing Two about inspired story-driven content marketing. “If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.” Don’t be afraid to try something new – it might be FUN....

Are customer stories the new case studies?

Content is the single most cost-effective way to project to the world who you are and what you do. So why are we still using boring old case studies as a means to propel business? We are evolutionarily wired for stories. Reading stories releases neurochemicals that...

Are you telling your story or leaving it to chance?

You’re telling a story whether you know it or not. It’s been said time and time again that we are wired for stories. From cavemen drawing on walls to stories passed verbally from generation to generation, it’s simply in our genes. Our brains like to process...

Has your content marketing lost the plot?

There are seven model plots on which all storytelling is based. Are you using one to tell an effective story?  No matter where we are from, we have shared points across cultures and histories that wire us to respond to one of seven basic plotlines. Using these...

How to elevate your content with storytelling

We all know that wading through the multitude of content on the internet can be tedious and mind-numbing. It is a crowded, noisy place. In the age where content is king, where facts are not enough to engage customers, how do you catch interest?...

Web design trends in 2018 – New Zealand

Web design is constantly changing from year to year. Here are some trends that are making it big in 2018. Hand-Drawn Fonts Just look on Instagram to see how viral custom hand-drawn fonts are becoming in recent months. These unique typefaces add character and charm as...

We all know that wading through the multitude of content on the internet can be tedious and mind-numbing. It is a crowded, noisy place. In the age where content is king, where facts are not enough to engage customers, how do you catch interest? How can your content effectively lead your brand into the future?

How to get your customers to stop, read and engage in six steps.

The wow factor

First, catch attention with stunning visuals. An image has 8 seconds to engage before it is scrolled past, and honestly, the way most people scroll on their phone it seems more like 2 seconds. Any images used to tell your story must be worthy of attention. They have to be fresh, interesting and make viewers pause. Offer an escape from whatever it is they are currently doing. Make them feel compelled to stop for a moment.

Arguably National Geographic has some of the best photographers on the planet, so fantastic images are a piece of cake for them (their 87+ million followers on Instagram likely agree). Now don’t expect to instantly become the next @natgeo. Start with getting creative. Pics of your product are not enough anymore (no matter how stunning you think it is). Add context, show people using it, use colour and lighting. Use artwork or visual quotes that express who you are and why you do what you do.

The hook

Those first few words had better be good ones. Here is where you have to grab onto emotions. Whether it is something interesting, unusual, shocking or emotional – this snippet, plus the visual, needs to compel the viewer to click, to want to immerse themselves further into the story. It has to seem more important/interesting/compelling than whatever is going on right now.

Check out the guys at ASAP Science (@asapscience) to see an example of unusual visuals without expensive photography, combined with a few words and a dose of humour that makes you want to go further.

The plot thickens

Now is the time to paint the picture with words. Provide lush detail, the reason behind the image, why it is important. Powerful storytelling engages and draws people in so they want to know more. This is where your storytelling skills shine. A great narrative will be relatable, believable, and evoke emotion. Tell a great story.

Leave out the promos

Now is NOT the time for shameless self-promotion and ad placement. Try those tricks and it’s like exposing the wizard behind the curtain. All genuine feeling is lost and the viewer feels tricked. Pics of your product are not going to cut it anymore. Authentic content makes a connection between the brand and the audience without any pressure. Today’s consumers want to have trust and a personal reason for choosing you, they want to relate to your reason for being. There are a multitude of pretty products available at our fingertips. Give them a reason to want yours.

No surprise sound

With the advent of autoplay videos, we’ve all experienced the shock of sudden sound from our device, broadcasting to all around you that you are indeed watching videos of swimming puppies instead of researching the topic for your next post. Please, for the love of letting people take a discreet break from work, provide subtitles. Any sound should enhance the image, for those of us who are alone in a quiet place, but not be necessary to understanding what’s happening.

Better yet, use those fancy 360° videos to encourage interaction. Want to experience Times Square in a blizzard? Ride a roller coaster at Universal Studios? Anything is possible here. Have fun with what you can do for your story while making people feel they are really there. (Friendly warning: getting on Youtube and looking at their “Best of” 360° videos is a rabbit hole you may disappear down for hours without realising it. But remember to mute your sound first.)

Make them fear they are missing out (exploit FOMO)

When your social media storytelling content is so good that people keep coming back for more, eventually they’ll start to wonder if they’re missing out on even better content. This is how you convert from free social media user to email subscriber or even paid subscriber. If your content is consistently amazing, a bold call-to-action will convert the masses who need to satisfy the desire for more (or just make sure they’re not missing out).

Again, National Geographic takes the cake here – on their website you get a gentle pop-up (there is such a thing!) inviting you to sign up for their email list that says, “Let Us Take Your Breath Away.” WOW.

To sum up: Storytelling needs to tick all of the boxes to get your potential customers to stop, read and engage.

WOW: Catch attention with visuals

HOOK: Use your way with words

PLOT: Time to tell a great story

AUTHENTICITY: Please stop with the product promos

NO SUDDEN NOISES: Be considerate of your viewers

FOMO: Hold some things back for your paid subscribers