Strategies & Tactics

4 Ways to Tell Stories With Your Content

March 4, 2019

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[mark airs/icon images]

If you want to drive interest and action — particularly in today’s cluttered social media landscape — then you need to tell a story. From simple social posts to case studies and press releases, each and every piece of content that you produce must include an interesting and engaging narrative.

Of course, you can’t fit a novel into your Instagram caption, but don’t take character count as an easy way out. Today’s strongest content marketers are finding unique ways to integrate storytelling into their content. Here are four ways you can too.

1. Understand the “why.”

Before you even start writing your content, take a step back and think about the “why” factor. All too often, PR professionals focus on the “what” (e.g., what their client is now offering or what their client’s new campaign will entail), but they forget about the “why.” Uncovering the “why” before writing is essential. Instead of diving into a press release about, say, a new product, ask your client why they’re creating it. How did they come up with the idea? How has it changed the lives of people who use it? As you can imagine, these questions lead to story-filled answers.

Instead of the focus only being, “This company is launching a new gadget,” the story you might tell after digging deeper could be more descriptive, like: “This company’s inventor came up with a new gadget while helping his 4-year-old son fend off nightmares.” Not only is this more interesting to the reader, it also gives you a much stronger media hook when pitching the news.

2. Tell the customer’s story.

If you’re struggling to find ways to weave storytelling into your social content, then try shifting away from corporate speak or brand messaging. Instead, focus on the people who actually use the product or service. Customers are bound to have stories, particularly if they’re loyal or repeat users.

To share these stories, put out a call on social for user feedback and conduct a brief interview with respondents — email is fine — about how the product has become part of their lives.

For example, if you’re a clothing brand and you find a loyal customer, then dig deeper and ask about any special moments they’ve had while wearing your clothes. Did they take their first international trip? Were they wearing your shirt when they met a significant other? These stories (with visuals) will captivate readers, giving you a better shot at stopping the mindless scrolling and finally engaging that Instagram audience.

3. Incorporate stories from within your company.

While telling your customers’ stories is essential — and a great way to show them you care — don’t neglect your own employees’ narratives. Whether it’s the junior product developer who’s been tinkering with your company’s gadgets since age three or the CEO who grew up eating only macaroni and cheese (and you just happen to be a macaroni and cheese brand!), interesting stories from within your organization will humanize your brand.

These are stories that people will relate to and, once your audience connects with your employees, they’re more likely to connect with your brand.

4. Encourage writing courses.

To help your team improve their writing skills quickly, sign employees up for mini courses on storytelling or journalism. Whether online or in-person, these courses will emphasize the need for story arc, characters and flow, while simultaneously improving their writing skills.

Sure, storytelling may seem like a buzzword in the communications profession. However, this buzzword actually has merit. Storytelling will engage your audience, and it’s one of the few ways to break through the internet’s ever-growing content boom.

Stephanie Vermillion

Stephanie Vermillion is a content marketer and journalist in the New York City area. She’s the founder of Stephanie Vermillion Studio, and you can follow her work at @StephanieVermillionStudio on Instagram.


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