Good stories are what make a blog interesting and fun to read. More importantly, if you’re trying to influence people to buy into your ideas and ultimately your business, there is evidence that stories work better than facts.
A 2007 study by Jennifer Edson Escalas, a marketing researcher at Vanderbilt University, found that people had more positive reactions to advertisements that were presented in a story form than to ads that were factually straightforward about the products.
In another study, when information was labeled as fact, it was subjected to critical analysis. Apparently humans have a tendency to want to make factual information wrong, compared with information labeled as a story, which people accept more easily.
In his book Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin writes, “People just aren’t that good at remembering facts. When people do remember facts, it’s almost always in context.” The way to put facts into context is to transfer them through the use of story. A story is all about context.
So if you’re a professional with a blog, or writing content for your web pages or e-newsletter, what kinds of stories should you be writing? On a blog, it’s easier to do since it’s a personal communication tool. It’s easy to share client experiences and stories about the work you do.
I’ve written extensively about how to craft blog posts, and given you some outlines and templates for structuring blog posts. Most of them center on writing about how to solve a problem for your readers. The best way to gain attention and engage readers is through storytelling.
Here are some ideas for triggering stories:
- A negative story, a failure, a lesson learned
- A success story, especially in the face of difficulties
- A case study
- History and mythology
- A deeply personal story (a tragedy, a rags-to-riches example)
When crafting a story, include specific details to make it real. Be brief and get to the point. Understatement often carries a bigger impact. Transport the listener by describing in emotional terms. Keep it simple. Learn to use metaphors and analogies to summarize. Personalize it with names even if they need to be altered.
The closer you can remain to authentic examples, the more your stories will resonate with people. In real life, nothing is either black or white. Real life is full of paradox and uncertainties. Tell your stories to make a point and deliver a lesson with true value.
Some bloggers and writers are natural storytellers, some aren’t. I come from an academic background and learned to deliver information in facts, backed up by research evidence. Studies are stories, in a way. But they are rarely written up in story form.
Every time I read a book these days, they are full of stories. That’s what makes them successful as popular books. Even the most erudite of psychologists and psychiatrists deliver their evidence and facts in story form. They know that’s what connects with readers, gets them engaged emotionally and inspires action.
Your online content should be no different. Well, shorter, for sure.