Biz Tips: Five Things That Bad Storytellers Don’t Do

Biz Tips: Five Things That Bad Storytellers Don’t Do


Five Things That Bad Storytellers Don’t Do

Being a storyteller is more than words, it’s results.

In today’s digital and social media landscape, everyone refers to themselves as a storyteller. It’s become the buzzword du jour.

However, like with most things, this word gets overused, watered down, and runs the risk of losing its meaning.

Today “brand storytellers” lack consistent distinct personalities or are fragmented from trying to be different things to different audiences while keeping up with the ever-changing and overwhelming landscape of social media from Snapchat and yes even Pokemon. That’s what you expect an “agency guy” to say right? Typically that would be followed up with some Ad Agency lingo pushing full service to surround sound 360˚ integration or some nonsense like that.

While catchy, they’re ultimately empty and don’t come close to actual storytelling. No matter where your “content” is published (on social media and online, TV, radio, or even a billboard) masterful storytelling techniques is an art that is practiced then mastered.

True storytelling requires five things, without which all you have are catchy headlines and an ineffective brand. These five tips are only building blocks for a solid storytelling foundation; the rest is up to you.

1. Understanding your audience

Knowing your audience is crucial. You’re not telling a story for yourself, but for your audience. It is impossible to connect with every single person, so you must ask yourself: who is your audience? Remember that you cannot be everything for everyone, so find your people. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Figure out what makes them laugh, cry and everything in between. Learn how to successfully provide value for them. Most importantly, pinpoint which platforms are best suited for who you’re trying to reach. Only 25 percent of 30–49 year-olds use Instagram. So if you’re trying to reach middle-age adults with your brand, then Instagram isn’t the right platform to use. Do your research and see which platforms are best for your audience.

Don’t just throw everything at your audience hoping something will stick. Noise isn’t marketing. A fancy Instagram isn’t a brand.

2. Forge your brand identity

Unapologetic. That’s the mindset you must have when creating the identity of your brand. Ask yourself what is the value, the voice, the tone and the style of your brand. Since you have already identified your audience, tailor your brand characteristics to appeal to them. If you want to stand out, you need a strong brand; if you want to command attention, your brand must have a unique and distinct identity.

Sorry to break it to you, but no matter how creative or unique you think you are, I can guarantee that there’s someone already doing what you want to do. The name of the game isn’t to come up with an incredible idea, but to cut through the noise and execute that idea better than anyone else. People want to know why they should take time out of their busy lives to pay attention to you. What makes you and your brand different?

3. Turn followers into advocates

Knowing the identity of your brand and having great content is only part of the battle. If you ever want more than just your mom and best friend to buy your product, then your followers must become advocates for your brand. In order for this to happen, you must leverage your social currency. You must join your follower’s community before asking them to join yours. Start by engaging with your followers, commenting on their posts, liking their tweets, building a relationship. Your followers will notice this and engage back with you, even commenting and liking your posts, reciprocating. Most people only follow an account after it’s been recommended to them by someone they know and trust.

Your followers need to engage with your content enough to want to share it with their friends. Your content has to be good enough to not only keep people around but to bring new people in as well. Remember, your brand is not about you, it is about your followers, so reward them frequently.

4. Co-Create Content

Once you have your audience, create with them. It would be dumb to create content for your audience without collaborating with them to see what they want. When co-creation happens, not only is great content made, but a personal relationship between you and your audience is kindled, which is exactly what you want. Ironically enough, people want real, organic relationships with the people they follow. Let your audience know you.

5. Amplify your storytelling.

Don’t be boring. Be relevant. Be bold, thought-provoking, and challenging; surprise your followers. Knock your audience on its butt daily. Your content should be diverse and not one-dimensional. Share your content across all platforms. Be relentless; drown your followers with content. Eventually, your brand will be so loud, that people — followers or not — will stop and listen.

So, what should you take away from this?

If you take one thing away from these five points, it should be that your story is not your own. You may be the one who lived it, but it’s your audience that decides how to look at it and if it’s worth anything. By using the five points listed here, you can guide the public perception of your story and, through effective storytelling, present yourself as someone worth listening to and your brand as something worth buying. Storytelling is about building a long-term brand narrative — an epic — rather than a series of unrelated short-term tactics.

The future of marketing is giving more and more power to the consumer, and the more engaging and valuable your story is, the more people will listen.

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Five Things That Bad Storytellers Don’t Do was originally published in Marketing And Growth Hacking on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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