How To Create "Now I Care Stories"

03/13/2014

Those who tell the stories well shape our lives.

Max reading Sybil's share of mind share of heart
Often stories are as much about the people who tell them as they are of the story itself. In 2014, websites, blogs, social networks influence how we tell and pass along our stories. We might even add videos, podcasts, an infographic or graphic or two. 

"Those who tell the stories also hold the power." "Those who tell the stories rule society." "Those who tell the stories rule the world."

These three quotes have been attributed to both Plato and the Hopi American Indians. Quite obviously they were worlds apart separated by thousands of miles not to mention centuries of time. The universal truth remains dead right .. The influence of the story teller can be life changing. 

For the past 18-months I have worked among and with professionally trained story tellers .. call them journalists or reporters. It's their job to identify, research and tell the most significant stories of our society. Until just a few years ago their stories were the only way most of us learned what was happening in our world. Then the digital world entered and changed the game .. for them and for us.

In the digital world traditional media (radio, TV, print publications) and brands share several common challenges. One of the most significant is the expectations of our audiences/communities for on-going content for our websites, blogs, social networks.

No longer can traditional media tell stories only on the 6p news with perhaps a repeat at 11p. To remain competitive content must feed hungry digital assets (websites, blogs, social networks) multiple times a day. That's a whole bunch of new stories .. or stories with new perspectives.

Oh and those stories must satisfy a digital audience whose interests and attention span may differ from what they want from the legacy product. 

The challenges of our traditional media friends are not so different from what a B2B, B2C or nonprofit brand encounters. Brands must also provide the content or stories that are relevant to their audiences/community. In the digitall/social media world the prize is the same .. The Share. If we don't create for the share and interaction social media is just another distribution channel. And I ask you .. why bother?

  • What I learned from my media friends is that stories are everywhere. The secret is to look behind the ordinary.

In one morning pitch meeting (where reporters present ideas for stories they want to cover) that I attended a smart news director said something that shifted my thoughts about telling stores in social media. A reporter was pitching Matt Parcell, WFTV. Matt listened as she presented a series of different angles of a story. No. Nope. That's not it.

  • Finally he nodded and said, "That's it. Now I care." 

The digital/social media world levels the playing field and we find ourselves completing with both brands and media for the golden moments of customer attention. Sometimes those are the same stories.

Social media has been around long enough to know that the stories you post can't be self serving. We've learned to find content that adds value for our audience/customers/community. However, value-add stories have become the price of doing business. 

What content gets the most shares and engagement? Stories that go a step beyond value-add to "Now I Care." Think about it. 

7 Tips To Create Now I Care Stories

1. Know your digital audience's profile .. it may be different then what you think opening doors to a new segment

2. Understand how to use each digital medium to its advantage -- what works on Twitter may not be the same for Facebook. Creating original video is a world unto itself. 

3. Begin your content creation with the question -- "Will my customer care?"

4. Track and analyze the social shares and interactions -- Identify a few tools that track social media analytics. Social Media Today Post by Pam Dyer offers 50 tools!

5. Review what your competiton is doing -- Look at the posts that receive the most shares and interaction

6. Test new ideas -- social media/digital brand content/stories are still a new frontier 

7. Images and video -- include graphics and video we're living in a visual world

Toss of a pink boa to BBF Geoff Livingston and the XPotomac peeps, Shonali Burke, Patrick Ashamalla who kindly invited me to present at their fantastic event a few weeks agon. This post is based on my talk. 

Max is reading Sybil Stershic's book Share of Mind Share of Heart.

Toby XP _1 (2)

Seems appropriate to end this with what veteran news camera man and uber cool dude, Jim Long said at XPotomac - "Tell me a story .. make me feel something." B2B marketers - no excuses you can do it too!

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Comments

Toby, I have just finished reading a most impressive book by a master story teller, Max Frankel, whose stories stretch from escaping Nazi Germany as a boy to his days at the pinnacle of journalistic achievement, executive editor of the New York Times. The book illustrates again and again the point of your post, about telling stories about what people care about and/or stories that make people care.

Thank you.

If you don't know the book, it's The Times of My Life and My Life with The Times

Posted by: Des Walsh on Mar 23, 2014 8:33:42 PM

Des - thanks for the book recommendation. will definately check it out.

Posted by: Toby @tobydiva on Mar 23, 2014 9:13:59 PM

Wonderful post, Toby! Thanks for featuring Max and my book. Such a smart dog!

Posted by: Sybil Stershic on Mar 31, 2014 8:48:47 AM

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