Once upon a time, there was a powerful King, and his name was “Content.”
That Content was King was an undisputed fact until, one day, there was a whisper amongst the community of marketers and bloggers. The rising tide of excited voices spoke of a new player in town, and its name was “Storytelling.”
Suddenly across the land, these subjects of Content were enamoured of a potential new leader, a contender to the crown, and all you could hear on blogs and at meetups was the importance of Storytelling.
However, what many didn’t realise was that Storytelling, while extremely powerful, was not the same as Content, and therefore it was destined to remain a servant of the current King…
Okay, okay you get the picture! I’ll stop with the fairy-tale prose.
My point is, storytelling is incredibly powerful, but it isn’t the same as content; and it also isn’t a requirement for all content marketing.
Content that contains classic elements of story – a hero or other characters, a challenge/conflict, a plot that transport the characters (and the reader) on a journey to overcome the challenge, their transformation etc. – can be very powerful.
However not all successful content, particularly in the context of content marketing, has to have those story elements.
Here are 5 types of content marketing that don’t require story to work:
Guides / ‘how to’ posts / instructions: A guide on how to use something, how to do something new, how to build something etc. does not need to have characters and plot (although it can do). It simply needs to be clear, and help the reader achieve their objective.
Checklists: Similar to guides, checklists don’t need any extraneous information in them (such as storytelling); they simply need to help the reader understand the core things they need to do in order to achieve a successful outcome for their objective.
Curation: Content curation can be a great content marketing practice and build your authority as an arbiter of quality and a trusted source of useful advice – but becoming a successful content curator doesn’t require storytelling.
Lists: Lists were the bread-and-butter that helped Buzzfeed to become a company with hundreds of millions of dollars. Their success relies on them often containing a strong sense of social identity for the reader, but many don’t actually contain story elements.
Quizzes: Another pillar of Buzzfeed’s success, many quizzes don’t rely on storytelling to engage the reader and get them sharing with their friends.
Storytelling is a powerful force, and where you can sprinkle your content with its magic, you will probably enjoy the results.
However, not every single of content has to be a story in order to find success, so don’t become obsessed with storytelling at the expense of the content’s utility and your customer’s real needs.
That way, everyone lives happily ever after.