Stories are what connect humanity on a level deeper than almost any other.
Stories allow us to share ideas, learn about each other and encourage our minds to roam free. Stories excite and disappoint, build tension and provide a release, teach us lessons and set us on the path to learn lessons of our own. Stories connect us, not only to our fellow humans but also to the past and the present.
Stories matter, and so do the ways that stories are told.
Take a moment and think about your favorite story. What is that one moment in a book, film or piece of history that has always grabbed onto your imagination and refused to let go?
For me, that moment occurs in Harry Potter, when Hagrid first tells Harry that he is a wizard. In that moment, the entire world opens before Harry, and he truly can be whatever he wants to be. I’ve always connected to that feeling of wonder and excitement, that feeling that the world truly may be different than you’ve always assumed.
For a story to truly work it must be properly delivered to the audience. The story must be set up, told with fervor and executed with excellence. The story must connect.
So, how do you go about telling a digital story that connects with your audience, encourages them to read more and captivates their imagination?
We’re glad you asked.
Know Your Story
When it comes to digital storytelling, your first, and most difficult, obstacle is the pure amount of competition there is. Around every online corner, there is a new story, a compelling distraction or a nostalgic website just waiting to seize your reader’s attention. You must cut through the noise and deliver a story that is worth the attention of your reader.
The first way to provide excellent content is to know the topic you are writing about. The Internet often is filled with people who are a jack of all trades, but a master of none, and so a true master of a topic is sure to rise to the top. Taking time to thoroughly research your topic, deliver cunning insights and well thought-out conclusions is sure to build trust with your reader, and to excite them about the possibility of future stories.
Know Your Audience
Next to thoroughly understanding your topic, knowing your audience is the most important part of delivering a great digital story.
You wouldn’t show a horror movie to a child, or a Saturday morning cartoon to a serious film critic, would you? In addition, an audience of comic lovers is more likely to love a new Marvel movie, and a group of parents is always the best audience for a parenting class or parents’ night out.
In the same way, make sure that the audience you are seeking pairs well with the information you want to provide. Even an incredible story can fall on deaf ears if it is told to the wrong audience.
Stay In Your Lane
You know the phrase: “Don’t put too many eggs in one basket?”
This goes back to our first point, but we want to take a moment to drive it home. Stay in your lane. Don’t be afraid of being too niche. Run with what you know, and move on from what you don’t.
When it comes to building a successful website, newsletter or business, a smaller amount of fanatic customers goes a much longer way than a large number of semi-interested readers. Devoted readers will stick with you, share articles with their friends and help to develop your site with keen insights and pieces of advice. Also, these readers may just connect you to other devoted fans of your target market, expanding your knowledge and challenging your perspectives.
This extra level of commitment from your readers will not only help to develop your brand and better your stories, it will also help to gain revenue if you are seeking to turn a profit, as many advertisers prefer sites with frequent, regular visitors and long view times to sites with one-time visitors who quickly log off.
The quickest way to lose an audience is to forget about them. Make sure that as you begin to tell digital stories, you stay consistent, both in the regularity of your stories and in the type of stories that you tell.
If you run a business or blog about cars, don’t begin a month-long series on the history of space travel. If you regularly hear that your corporate content is what keeps readers come back, a poetry series may leave your readers confused.
Although it is more than okay, and sometimes even important, to stretch your readers, you should do so from within their comfort zone. Quickly changing focuses or topics is sure to leave your readers frustrated and looking for a new storyteller.
In addition, consider a publishing schedule that is frequent enough to be engaging and achievable enough that you are still putting out quality content. Building trust with your readers by providing regular content is a great way to ensure that they continue to come back to your site.
Storytelling has long been a way to connect with those around us, but you must go about it in the correct way in order to ensure that your readership grows and stays interested in what you have to say.
Not only will focusing on quality content help to build your audience, it will also help your brand. As you become a recognized source for material in your field, your customers will begin to trust you more, share your content with others and help to spread your product or mission faster than you ever could.
So give it a try: begin developing content and telling digital stories. Share what you know with those around you, and begin listening to their feedback and their perspective. Odds are you’ll not only grow your business and gain an audience for your story, you’ll learn quite a bit along the way.