Your blog is more than a mouthpiece for your business. It's also a place to share stories – real, human experiences that can help create valuable connections with the people who read your posts.
We're not suggesting you lure people with cheesy stories and clickbait headlines. Your stories should be genuine and heartfelt, a nod to the early years of blogging in the late 1990s when blogs were essentially shared journals. While you should choose stories that you feel will resonate with others because of their own experiences or to touch their heart or funny bone, try to tie into what your company or publication represents and has to offer. If you're the publisher of a lifestyle magazine, for example, you could tell a story relating to a topic your magazine might cover, or share a memory of an incident in your publishing career that could be of interest to readers.
The beauty of being a storyteller in your company's blog is that readers tend to enjoy telling their own stories, too. Be sure to invite them to do just that. Then, respond to their stories. The comment sections of blog posts are often as interesting to read as the posts themselves.
The Science of Storytelling
Storytelling is both art and science. A Harvard Business Review article by Paul J. Zack, director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, explains how the brain reacts positively to storytelling.
In another article, How Stories Change the Brain, Zack explains how the neurochemical oxytocin is produced during empathetic situations. He goes on to say, “Empathy is important for social creatures because it allows us to understand how others are likely to react to a situation, including those with whom we work."
You don't need to think about oxytocin when you share a story. We already know this process works, but it's fascinating to see it in action on a neurological level.
Storytelling as Marketing Device
The Internet is a huge resource, and trying to cut through all that information can be overwhelming. Stories often can present information in a way standard marketing documents can't. A story stands out because it's something different; it's not an ad, or an offer, or news, or a press release, and it's not asking readers to do anything. It's just something to read that looks compelling.
Stories also illustrate who you are as a company leader, and what your company represents, without having to say so. Storytelling presents your ethics, passions and perspectives better than a mission statement can because it demonstrates those attributes.
A Forbes article by Jayson DeMers illustrates how storytelling can fuel a marketing campaign and provides some tips on how best in incorporate it.
How to Get Started
If you think you don't have stories to tell, you're not alone. Many people believe their experiences, perspectives and observations are not of interest to others. But they may be too close to the subject to realize how interesting they can be (the flipside of thinking you're MORE interesting than you really are!).
Have you ever read an obituary of someone you thought you knew well, only to discover that he or she did something utterly fascinating younger in life that you would have loved to have heard more about? Or have you overheard someone casually referencing something that he or she doesn't seem to realize is amazing?
Maybe you have some of those stories, too. And even if you don't, storytelling isn't about being fascinating. It's about connecting with the reader. It's about communicating a message that YOU want to tell and that will matter to THEM. That's the connection.
For some excellent insights into the process of storytelling in business, check out this Harvard Business Review article by Carolyn O'Hara on how to tell a great story. These ideas are helpful whether you're a seasoned storyteller or one just starting to explore the genre within your blog marketing.