Do you remember that one teacher back in grade school whose class was nothing less than torturous to sit through? You know, that one teacher who read from the slides, with little to no change in animation, and simply presented boring chunks of information we were required to remember for the test that Friday. What many bloggers don’t realize is that they’ve let their posts become the equivalent of the boring, insufferable teacher by simply presenting good information, but forgetting to include the key element to activating reader engagement: storytelling.
We all know that stories are entertaining, they engage our audience, and that we should be using them in our blog posts, yet many bloggers are still not employing the benefits of this innate ability It’s important to understand why stories are so powerful before we go into the ways to use them as engagement tools to grow your blogging platform, and create posts that are more personal to your readers.
Why Stories Work
There is a reason and core connection between our ancestors 30,000 some years ago telling tales of their latest hunting adventure on cave walls, to us now sharing our daily lives at the click of a mouse. Stories are effective because our brains are hardwired to consume them. A story activates our brain beyond the language part, and stimulates the other portions of our brain that we would use when actually experiencing the event in real life.
To understand how truly ingrained stories are in the brain, simply think about how you think and communicate on the day-to-day. You tell your friends about events in short stories, and you think about the reaction your boss will have after you show up ten minutes late to work in a story format where he throws papers, and embarrasses you in front of all of your co-workers. If you really think about it, most of our lives are spent telling stories to one another, and to ourselves.
What Makes A Good Blog Story?
A good story generally includes 5 key elements to keep the action of the story developing in a logical way that keep readers following and engaged. These include: a setting, relatable characters, a plot, some kind of conflict, and a resolution.
For a blog post, all five of these still apply, with the addition of two other elements at the beginning of the story.
- Picking a relevant theme
- Creating a compelling hook
Decide what the one point you are trying to get across to your readers is, and keep this idea in front of you while writing the story. A theme that translates to the different backgrounds and experiences of your audience is the best way to go. Then, once you have your focus, start the story off with an attention grabbing line that makes the reader curious and want to know how the situation resolves.
Here is a quick summary of what a story within your blog post should include to foster maximum engagement.
5 Easy Ways To Include Stories In Your Blog Posts
So how do you tactfully tell a story in a blog post without it feeling like a bedtime story? It’s a lot easier than you probably think. There are dozens of ways to include stories that enhance your reader’s attention, engagement, and memory of your content. Here are 5 ways we’ve seen work over and over, that you can easily add to your writing arsenal, and start using today.
1. Turn examples into interesting stories.
Think about how many times you give your readers an example to describe a point you are trying to get across. Each one of those times is an opportunity to turn up their interest and attention towards your content.
How do you do this? Let’s say you are a PR firm who is explaining the benefits of your cutting edge media strategy that is crafted specifically to help restaurants stand out. Instead of simply stating the benefits of hiring your team, and what is so great about this new strategy, you could use a story like this:
“As you look at the books, you realize you only have one month left to figure out how to bring in a steady stream of customers to your restaurant before your dream of growing a business you can one day pass down to your kids becomes a dream of the past. You look out the window to find dozens of cars parked outside of your competitor’s place, and wonder how they got Gordon Ramsay to endorse their facility, and why you have neglected you marketing efforts for so long. You have top notch food, a great staff, but realize that you haven’t figured out a way to stand out among the growing competition in the area.
What if we told you that you could trade places with your competitor, without having to know a thing about marketing, and not only save your business, but grow and thrive because you are getting consistent media coverage that has made you a staple in your town? …”
Yes, we were also intrigued by that story. Simply changing what could have been a straightforward example of a restaurant going out of business, and making it into a personal, compelling narrative keeps the reader engaged and interested in learning about the solution you are going to provide them.
2. Turn the spotlight over to the readers.
There is nothing more compelling to an audience than reading a story about how your product, business, or idea helped someone similar to them achieve their desired results. Reach out to your readers, find the success stories, and share them.
3. Use personal experiences.
As the author, sharing a personal narrative of why you are speaking about this particular topic, or what led you to form an opinion on a particular subject allows the reader to better understand where you are coming from, and build your credibility as an authority on the subject matter.
4. Be their fortune teller.
No, we are not asking you to go channel some obscure ability you may or may not have. Being a fortune teller in your blog post is about painting a vivid picture for the reader of a good or bad scenario that could result if the reader doesn’t change their behavior. Showing them this domino effect of what may happen has a powerful effect on not only keeping them interested, but causing them to think deeply about the content you have presented.
5. Images speak louder than words.
As you might have noticed, several images have been used in this post to enhance a point, or add to the understanding for the reader. Take a quick look at the following images.
What kind of story did each of these photos tell? Did one resonate more than the others with you? Did it take you back in time to a similar experience or memory?
Our brains process pictures 60,000 times faster than it does text, and in what feels like an instant can tell a story more powerful than the ability of any word. With almost everyone carrying a camera around in their pocket, photo creation continues to see massive increase, and the necessity for photo driven content continues to rises as image-centric social networking platforms continue to grow in popularity. A photo increase your blog’s views, engagement, brand perception, and identify with readers in a more meaningful way.