How are you doing with going from deadly boring content to emotionally engaging content?
What do I mean by a “gift” in this context?
• Don’t try to sell anything or provide “empty calories” that just waste people’s time.
• Give your content freely.
• Make your story their story.
• Make your story emotionally engaging.
Having a human story gives others more reason to care about you.
And don’t forget that the impression you make often depends on how much you reveal about your self.
The trick is, just like a Christmas gift, you need to give content that is of value to your audience and has the potential to help them forge an emotional connection.
Most marketing content rarely connects with an audience. You know why? Because it doesn’t make them feel anything. People join a story when they “feel” your story is credible and when they “understand” where your messages are coming from. They will make your story their own if they can identify with the elements within the story, respond to the narrative emotionally and have it serve their interests and agendas.
What makes great content spread is how compelling and inspiring the message is, not how it slants into a direction that ultimately positions your company as the only one to buy from. Content should make connections. I would even go further: content follows connection. First you need to engage, build rapport and make your audience trust you. And pure information or marketing messages do not make that happen. All these new forms of storytelling cannot change the fact that if you communicate in facts and figures, you communicate “brain to brain”. To be successful in any kind of communication, you need to go human to human, heart to heart, emotion to emotion.
I believe the most trusted people and organizations in this new experience economy are the ones that treat content like little gifts we can connect with.
Over the last years I have tried to walk the talk myself, and here are some of the ways I have been telling my story:
• Archiving dozens of blog posts and their comments
• Sharing 3-5 posts by other writers every day for more than a year on Twitter
• Initiating regular discussions with my network on LinkedIn using my LinkedIn
• Sharing presentations via Slideshare and Prezi.
• Sharing all the research for my book “No Story, No Fans” on Delicious (there
are more than 200 valuable articles, videos, reports, etc, on information related to storytelling).
And what is even more important than the sum of all this sharing, is that in telling my stories on all these channels I have been showing my audience that I am not a faceless “box house” simply taking orders blindly and shipping thoughtlessly. I have demonstrated that I am passionate about what I do and what I do it. My stories have given me and my company a human face that show I care. And from the reactions I have got, I can tell my stories have become little gifts to my network.
Now let me give you a simple example of how stories have been creating value for me.
I give a lot of keynote speeches and presentations of that sort. Before I was conscious about my storytelling, I would talk about the facts and figures of good communication: this much faster, that much productivity improvement, etc. After a typical speech, I’d get one or two people who wanted to speak with me. Now that I’m telling real stories that exhibit real emotion and real humanity, I have 20 or 30 people come up afterwards. Some of them say things like: “That’s the first time I ever really connected with a speech.” Those types of responses have helped me gain confidence in the process and have added a humble dose of mo-jo into my story work.
I experience the same thing when I communicate through other channels.
On Twitter for example I started interacting online with more people. In the beginning I could not understand why people were being so nice to me, sharing information with me and providing me with resources. Now I know it’s because I was earning their trust by communicating like a human being, and not like a content marketing machine. I now have a network of people, few of whom I’ve met in real life (yet), with whom I exchange value on a weekly basis. My twitter account went form 0 to more than 1300 followers in less then a year.
And what has all of this brought to my business? Everything. My own business took of once I started really connecting with people. All of my clients today come from my social content network. And what is more, when people contact me we mostly hit it of right away. Our stories connect even long before we start a project together.
What’s your story?
(In my next blog post I will show you how it works to create a story in the concept of a “gift”).