Great branded content almost always centers on great storytelling. One of our most fundamental human traits is our drive to tell and experience stories. It’s how we learn, and often how we connect with one another. The digital influencers we collaborate with have built audiences on the strength of their ability to do just that—to weave engaging stories that people genuinely love and continue to stay engaged in over time.
A strong brand story is shaped by the same set of elements that drive stories more universally. In its simplest form, a great story includes compelling characters, challenge or conflict and a resolution to that conflict. We could go on and on about the multiple other critical elements, but in the spirit of simplicity, we summed up our approach to branded storytelling with four helpful reminders, with examples drawn from the best recent content from our collaborator community.
1. Make it meaningful. Ask yourself, “Why does it matter?”
In a world where 2M+ Instagram likes occur every 60 seconds, differentiation is everything. Most good stories have been told before, so creators have to center their work on finding a hook that sets their story apart and gets to people to understand something new. Brands that are making cutting-edge products and innovating their industries know the importance of fostering meaningful connections with consumers— just as creators know the importance of doing so with their audiences. When innovative brand meets pioneering creator, magic happens in the form of new and unexpected stories that neither party could have told on their own.
2. Real & relatable. Ask yourself, “Who cares?”
Any content creator will tell you that their business has grown and flourished because their readers, fans and followers show up again and again for their content. Creators understand their audience so well that they can predict their response to different types of content. The influencer-audience relationship is unique—despite the one-to-many structure of a digital medium, audiences experience the content as one-to-one. This leads to a feeling of intimacy and relatability for the audience members, and the immediate feedback allows influencers to have deep insight into what their audiences like and dislike. If an influential creator senses their audience will not respond positively to a brand integration, there’s little potential for them to share a relatable story.
3. Make it Memorable. Ask yourself, “Did it make an impression?”
It’s widely accepted that emotion is linked to memory. If you want something to stand out and be remembered, long after a reader's feed is flooded with fresh content, you must elicit an emotional response. When developing a storyline for a brand integration, identifying the shared human experience that will evoke emotion from a reader will help a story stay top of mind—even after someone double-taps and scrolls away.
4. Remember, engagement is the goal. Gut check 1-3 ☝
Everyone wants engagement—or proof that your story caused a reaction. Whether it’s a click, a purchase, a comment, a like, or a share, engagement is the proof your message was heard. It’s the new currency of our age. If you want to generate engagement, stay focused on creating meaningful content for an audience whom you know will care about what you have to say.
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