Want to Create Viral Content? Write Like a Storyteller

Want to Create Viral Content? Write Like a Storyteller (Source: - used as royalty free image)

What’s better than sitting at the bar or in a corner booth at the diner, swapping stories with your best friends? Maybe going to the movies or to the theater, seeing epic tales of love and betrayal made larger than life. Or cracking open Anna Karenina or a Tom Clancy paperback and being transported to a whole new world, without ever having to leave your apartment.

What do all of these things have in common? They’re all about storytelling.

As a culture, we’ve always been obsessed with stories. We used to sit around the campfire and trade tall tales. Now we share stories about Chewbacca Mom or Damn, Daniel, but the principle is the same. We admire, trust, and enjoy storytellers. We spread their messages far and wide. We make our favorite narratives go viral.

So why is so much of the content marketing that brands produce dry and impersonal?

For a fresh approach to content in 2017, don’t think like a marketer – think like a storyteller. The results – in terms of engagement, brand recognition, and social sharing – could be enormous. Ready to get started? Here are four ways to harness the power of stories for your marketing:

1.) Get Personal

Use the first person (“I” statements) and second person (“you” statements) to appeal to your audience personally – appeal to their humanity and sense of self, and humanize your brand in their eyes. Paint a vivid picture that lets your audience envision themselves as heroes and heroines. And be truthful! Don’t just invent narratives, but draw from your real life and tell the true, nitty gritty stories behind your business. You’d be surprised how quickly audiences can spot the difference between the real stuff and phony puffery.

2.) Be Emotional

Awe. Fear. Nostalgia. Excitement. Inspiration. Audiences crave these feelings, and there’s no better way to serve them up than in a good story. Appeals to logic only go so far; to clinch a deal and inspire true engagement and loyalty, consider appealing to your audience’s deep-seated sense of wonder and joy.

3.) Solve a Problem

People search the internet to solve problems. They want to answer a question, they want to find a solution, they want to increase, to decrease, to change, to produce. Figure out what your audience wants, and tell them the story of how you can help fulfill their needs, possibly by recruiting an expert and having them provide guidance. For a more grassroots appeal to your users, employ user-generated content! When in doubt, remember that audiences tend to trust positive word of mouth from their peers above just about any other source.

4.) Bring the Data

For great stories, think like a journalist! While few people like dry recitations of facts and figures, audiences do crave substance. Use your narratives as a way of highlighting key facts and statistics that may be hard to present otherwise. Use a story to personalize your dataset in a way that makes numbers come to life. And no matter your subject, do some deep research and make sure you’re getting your information straight - this will go a long way toward making you seem more trustworthy in the eyes of your users.

5.) Use Visuals

Storytelling isn’t just about words! Instead, bolster your copy with exciting visual elements, from stunning photos and galleries to interactive multimedia elements and GIFs to embedded videos. A great story is all about creating a sense of adventure – and what could be more exciting than beautiful, colorful, sharable visual content?

Ready to get started crafting unique and remarkable content for your company? Drop Geek a line today to see what our content team can do for you! We're more than happy to swap stories. 

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).