In a previous life, I was a book editor, commissioning the best stories and working with authors on developing and refining their manuscripts. Turns out, helping small businesses tell their brand stories through their copy isn’t that different.
You may not realise it, but you are a storyteller. Every post or webpage you put out is building in another chapter of your narrative. So it’s really crucial to get consistent and clear on the story you want to tell.
Own your unique narrative
No one else has or knows your specific story – you are a unique combination of characteristics, circumstances and experience – and this is something you should exploit to your advantage! That doesn’t mean to say you have to include every chapter, but you can absolutely present a narrative exclusive to you and your brand.
To really push this storytelling metaphor, think about the last incredible novel you read. I can guarantee that the characters and plot lines did not appear, fully formed on page one. If they had, you would have been thrown in too quickly, with no allowance for building up a relationship with the people who you were about to spend three hundred-odd pages with.
Of course you got an instant sense of who the characters were but your true understanding of their personalities, motivation and desires will have been built up throughout the pages. By the end of the novel you were fully invested in those people and genuinely cared what happened to them.
Curate your content
So how does this actually translate to your content? Well, it’s a message I focus on a lot, but authenticity and consistency are the key elements. If you have a clear set of values behind your business then it is far easier to create a natural voice and remain true to yourself. If you believe in your messaging then it’s far easier to tell your story – you’re curating something that already exists rather than fabricating it from scratch.
Every time you publish content, you’re building another layer of your story. On social media, this will probably work in cycles – how often do you ‘reset’ with an intro post and start the process over? The trick is to find a balance between the bigger picture of the overall story your online presence tells about you and the immediate impact you desire from each individual post. This is where planning on the macro and micro scales comes in to play.
What is your narrative arc? This needs to be considered from multiple angles:
What is the likely customer journey through the pages? Are you building a consistent and coherent sense of yourself and your business throughout those pages? What journey of discovery are you taking visitors on? Have you revealed enough? Have you developed sufficient backstory for them?
Your Social Media Cycles
Particularly on platforms like Instagram, with its unpredictable algorithm, you can’t assume that people are seeing everything you post. And even if they are, the likelihood of them remembering each of your posts is slim. Plus there are new followers joining all the time who are unlikely to spend much effort exploring all of your previous output.
So how often are you cycling through and starting your story over? Intro posts, where you say hi to new followers and stick your head up above the parapet for a slightly more personal engagement are excellent ways to kick off a new round of content. Each time you do this, take some time to think through your story and the layers you should be starting to build up again to give your followers a complete sense of your brand.
Individual Social Media posts
Even at this level, you’re still storytelling and building a sense of your personality and identity. Does your caption have a clear message? Is there a logical progression to the information or insight being shared? Have you hooked your followers in, taken them on a journey and then asked them for something through a call to action? And depending on which platform you’re using, how are you targeting your story at your audience? Are you framing your LinkedIn posts differently to your Instagram content? Keep the reader at the forefront.
You have the power to tell your story in a way no one else can replicate, it’s entirely yours. But to be a truly great storyteller you need to plan it out and nurture it, building the layers up in everything you write. Doing that will allow you to weave a tale that customers will really invest in and want to be a part of.
About your author
Find out more about Sam and her business Made Simple by Sam.
After years of toying with the idea of starting my own clothing brand (I’m 6ft tall and had been bemoaning for years the lack of choice – and quality – of clothing available for tall women), at the ripe old age of 47 I finally decided to give it a go.
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