Storytelling is as old as human civilization itself. From ancient tribes gathered around their campfires to bards in medieval taverns; from 19th-century poets to modern-day novelists, the art of storytelling has been a major part of how we communicate for centuries. It'd be foolish to think that the Internet - prolific though it may be - has changed that simple fact.
If anything, with the birth of social media, the capacity to weave words is more important today than ever before.
"Stories," writes Content Marketing Institute's Debbie Williams, "make life interesting and give people a way to connect. People crave them, which creates a big opportunity for brand storytelling." In short, if you're skilled at telling a story and are willing to put in the work, you can be a top-notch content creator- it's really that simple.
But what if you don't have the gift of gab - what if tossing together a narrative isn't something that comes naturally to you?
In that case, it's something you're going to need to learn. See, where content marketing is concerned, storytelling is all about putting together a consistent narrative. It's about establishing yourself as a writer, author, or brand; about presenting a foundation to your audience and sticking to it.
That's the key there - staying with the narrative you've presented. If there's one thing today's consumers hate more than anything else, it's inconsistency. If they can't get a read on who you are, what you do, and why you do it - if they have no idea about your brand's personality or your own - they aren't going to be able to trust you. That, in turn, means you'll be unable to connect with them.
Of course, even if you present a strong, consistent identity, the tales you spin are going to ring hollow if you don't write them for your audience.
"Storytelling needs a strong focus on what people want to hear and share," explains J-P De Clerck; "once again shifting the view from the traditional ways of corporate messaging to a connected content strategy whereby people are key." And finally, we come to the core of what it is to be a storyteller; the prime focus that lies at the center of the craft - people. See, that's what lies at the core of being a storyteller - people. Look at all the best storytellers of human history - all the bards and comedians and writers and poets and elders - and ask yourself what all of them had in common.
The answer to that is easy. They understood the people who were listening to them, and they knew how shape their words to them. That, more than anything, is why content marketing requires a storyteller's flair - because otherwise, how else are you going to connect with your audience?
Image credit: John Everette Millais