Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

How to be more like an eight-year-old when sharing our authentic stories

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At the end of an October 2016 family trip, my eight-year-old daughter found a “writing lamp” in the hotel room and started writing as we were packing up on the last day.

She was basically writing down the most important things from the trip and was telling a story.  How they went to the zoo, dad stayed behind for some “talk thing” and saw grandparents who lived nearby. (I was speaking at a conference.)

She later read the story to us. Not for approval. Or to get us to buy anything from her. I’m not sure it was even important whether we liked it or not. It was about sharing her version of the trip. That’s all. Here it is. She later filed it in a three-ring binder titled “family trip stories.” Maybe she’s planning on more family trips soon!

I asked her later why she wrote and then shared the story.

“Because I wanted to,” was her reply.

Good answer.

Now, in the professional world of content marketing and everyone wanting to see results yesterday from their storytelling and content marketing efforts, we do want to be a little bit more deliberate about our storytelling efforts, but there’s something here to be learned. 

I’m all for goal setting and sharing content with our audience in mind, but why not be like an eight-year-old sharing a story without a formal plan or KPIs in mind every step of the way from time to time? Sometimes we just need to stop thinking about whether or not this story is worth sharing or not and just share it because we find it interesting ourselves. Sometimes those very authentic stories can also be hits with our audiences. Probably because they are authentic and come from the heart.

Recommended reading:

How to align your blogging passion with audience interest

What’s thoughtful strategy? <<< The blog of my next book’s co-author

I often do this exercise when I speak:

I ask audience members to share a story with their neighbor. Sometimes people ask me questions:

  • What kind of story?
  • Does it have to be a recent story?
  • What if we don’t remember all the details?
  • Will they be able to ask us questions about it?
  • Does it have to be interesting, shocking, eye opening?
  • Will it be shared publicly as well?

I’m sure you get the point. Sometimes we always need more information to move forward and to follow the plan or assignment to the T. Audience members are usually very engaged with each other and once I got their attention again I even ask them rhetorically:

How did you know that story was worth sharing?

“Well….”

Recommended reading:

Maybe authentic storytelling isn’t about being right or wrong

PODCAST: What if authentic storytelling is not optional?

Of course, we never really know if people will find our stories interesting. We can have good ideas, but it’s never a sure thing. Never. Even when we think we know and analyzed it to no end.

The lesson from my eight-year-old is worth remembering:


Christoph

Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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