In the fight to get your message heard you must land a winning blow.
From cave paintings of mammoths and horses that move in firelight as if grazing and galloping to the first VR headset, we’ve been telling stories since we first gathered around the fire. We crave stories, seek them out and react to them. Recently we’ve seen how they’ve been used to incite violence and deny the need for change. Yet, despite the power of storytelling, more than half of all website visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a page.
Now think about that. 15 seconds. That’s faster than Usain Bolt ran to claim the 200-metre record. Would you consider a 15 second glance at a novel engaging? Or a 15 second cinema viewing enthralling? And that’s for starters. When it comes to an email, readers will hover over it for 10 seconds and Facebook users will linger a whopping 1.7 to 2.5 seconds on a post.
The same could be said for LinkedIn if not for the fact that long form content, around 1900 words, is shared much more often than shorter posts. As marketers, we’re trying to make a lasting impression in a fleeting moment when, in fact, we’re more likely to make an impact with engaging and meaningful stories. With 50% of all B2B social traffic on websites and blogs coming from LinkedIn, captivating long copy demands serious consideration.
But what if the channel you’re using doesn’t afford the luxury of space to make your point, such as Twitter? Then a good short story, well told, will immediately grab a reader. It’ll also captivate the people you can’t reach with formula thinking. What else can break hearts, capture our most revered emotions, make us laugh or fill us with hope in an instant?
Story Engine Optimization
A sea change is rolling in across marketing towards quality over quantity, substance over style and the unique over the uniform. Even Google has updated their search algorithm to promote original, brand building copy over cookie cutter content. An overreliance on making sure the most people see your content creates content most people won’t bother seeing. SEO is being redefined as Story Engine Optimization and whilst search terms still have their place, they should be woven into meaningful copy.
Stories in the ring
All marketers want their content to be precise, targeted and above all impactful. Compelling stories will not only increase engagement, they’ll also build your brand and establish yourself as a voice worth listening to. The more captivating the content, the more people will talk about it. But content that looks the same as everyone else’s gets lost in a sea of sameness. There’s nothing to fear about storytelling, its power is tried and tested. Let’s put more faith in the innate need we all have for stories in the same way we trust analytics. Reprioritise what you determine as worthwhile content because if it’s unoriginal it’ll only score the odd point. Go for the knockout with storytelling.