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What is content (& how brand storytelling fits into yours)?

When you think of “content,” where does your brain go? Do you feel excited about the idea of sharing your expertise and yourself with the world?
Or do you feel anxious because you don’t know what to say and you’re not interested in being famous like the popular influencers in your industry?
You want to share what you know and have experienced to help people (and grow your business). But having people recognize you everywhere you go just doesn’t fit your vision of your ideal life.

The good news is no matter how you feel about it, brand storytelling is an important piece of creating content that can help you

  • Get off the content creation hamster wheel and prevent overwhelm,
  • Spark endless conversations with your audience,
  • Share what you know and experience in meaningful ways,
  • Stay ready to build connections with anyone, anywhere you go,
  • And create boundaries around what you share with the world.

What is content?

Content is kind of a loaded and oversimplified term all at once! Since most people’s introduction to the term is in relation to social media content, that’s all a lot of people think it is. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

In the context of marketing, content refers to individual pieces of visual, audio, or written media used to achieve a business goal (like growing your audience).

There are a few other terms that get tossed around in relation to content so let’s go ahead and define them too!

Marketing is any activity you use to tell people about your business, products, or services. These efforts include most of the attention-grabbing activities you can perform to connect with and grow your audience.

Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, distributing, and sharing content via channels like social media, websites, podcasts, apps, press releases, online and print publications, and more. (Via HubSpot)

Content creation is the process of generating topic ideas that appeal to your target audience, creating written or visual content around those ideas, and making that information accessible to your audience. (Via HubSpot)

Content strategy is the ongoing process of translating business objectives and goals into a plan that uses content to achieve those goals. (Via Market Muse)

As you can already see, content is so much more than social media posts and videos!

Why is it so important to include storytelling in your content?

Short-Form Content

Short-form content is typically less than 1,000 words in length. Short-form content is easy to digest and used to quickly cover a specific area of a topic. It’s not meant to be in-depth or super detailed. (Via Semrush)
(Organic short-form content refers to any content you share that you did not have to pay the platform to share.)

Using storytelling in your short-form content is a great way to grab your audience’s attention because the more you know them, the more relevant a story you can share with them.

Sharing short-form content means you’re not restricted by cost or storage space so you can post as many different pieces of content as you want! And the stories you share can be as specific as you need them to be.
You are reaching people on a platform they’re choosing to be on. Although you still need to grab their attention, it’s easier to do here because they are choosing to interact with people in your industry or niche.

Even if they aren’t following you yet, most platforms have an algorithm that makes it easier for you to be found as long as they’ve already interacted with content similar to yours.

And since you’re not paying for media space, it’s also much easier to experiment in order to figure out what works in real-time.
Speaking of experimenting, because each platform has its own culture, you can show more creativity and personality to fit that culture.

Remember, the more relevant your content is to your audience and the space you’re in, the more likely they are to stop and pay attention so don’t forget to include a call-to-action (CTA).

Did I mention it’s also free? Any costs you incur will come from equipment or supplies you purchase to create your content. But all you need to get started is your phone and your account!

A brand that has always used storytelling exceptionally well in its short-form content is Nike. Although they were already well known for their “Just do it” slogan, they shifted the story they put out into the world with the launch of the “Find Your Greatness” campaign in 2012.
Since then Nike has gone from being a brand exclusively associated with the world’s best pro-athletes to inclusively highlighting every level and type of athlete* around the world.

They even use the asterisk (*) to point out this shift in mindset (and brand messaging) by making it clear who gets to be an athlete with the statement, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.”

Learn how to use storytelling effectively in your short-form content and 6 more types of content you can use to share your story to grow your audience here.

Long-Form Content

Long-form content is typically more than 1,000 words in length. It is content that dives deep into a topic and covers it in great detail. (Via Semrush)

Because long-form content is longer and more in-depth, people who choose to interact with it tends to be more interested and invested in your niche.

Again, the more you know your audience, the more relevant a story you can share. But unlike with short-form content, you are not restricted by length, size, or time.

The stories you share can (and should) grow more specific in relation to what you offer, especially if people had to pay for access to this content.

When people are willing to pay (with money, time, or access to their inbox), they are

  • seeking specific information for a specific goal,
  • preparing to take the first steps toward achieving that goal,
  • and considering what it’s like to focus on achieving it with your support.

The more relevant, relatable, and valuable your long-form content is to your audience, the better chance you have of holding their attention. And the longer you grab their attention, the more likely they are to consume the entire piece and seek more from you.

For your call-to-action (CTA), think about the path your audience needs to take before working with you. What is the first step they can take to get more from you?

A brand that uses storytelling extremely well in its long-form content is the author and astrologer Chani Nicholas. According to the website, she has been guiding people to discover and live out their life’s purpose through understanding their birth chart for over 20 years.
What really stands out is how the copy on her website, app, and in her book do a great job of setting the stage for you to view yourself in the words you’re reading. They feel less passive and detached from the realities of life and the world around them.

Learn how to use storytelling effectively in your long-form content and 6 more types of content you can use to share your story to grow your audience here.

Visual Content

Visual storytelling refers to the strategy of using visual content to communicate a narrative and support complex ideas or information. (Via Forbes)

Using storytelling in your visual content is a great way to grab your audience’s attention because it makes it easier for people to understand the information being shared with them.
Visual storytelling also makes it less difficult for people to process complicated, abstract, or new concepts, increasing the likelihood of your audience actually retaining the information you share with them. (Via Sumo)

Visual storytelling is also a great way to show you have a deeper understanding of what your audience is going through, how they’re feeling, and why.

And it can help you more directly illustrate the unique perspective you bring to your industry, niche, or the problem you help your audience solve.

A brand that uses visual storytelling extremely well is Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty. (Actually, all of her brands do!)
“Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty celebrates fearlessness, confidence, and inclusivity. We want you to feel sexy and have fun doing it. With offerings ranging from everyday basics to more provocative pieces – Savage X Fenty is lingerie for everyone.” (Via the website)
(Fenty Beauty was launched on the idea of makeup for everybody!)

This sentiment is quickly backed up with a scroll through the Instagram account or website, proving they meant what they said. There are people of different races, skin tones, ethnicities, gender identities, abilities, and versions of what confidence means represented!
The longer you scroll, the more likely you are to see someone who looks like you or someone you know.

Learn how to use storytelling effectively in your visual-form content and 6 more types of content you can use to share your story to grow your audience here.

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