Should Content Marketing Entertain? Lessons from a Content Strategist
Marketing Content Strategy

Should Content Marketing Entertain? Lessons from a Content Strategist

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Goodnight Moon. Peter Pan. The Jungle Book. Those were the stories of my childhood.

Like most kids, stories helped me escape. They flew me to far-off lands and welcomed me into the lives of flying fairies and howling wolves. As I grew older, my love of stories shifted from Disney movies (don’t get me wrong—I still love watching The Lion King from time to time) to real-life comeback stories like Miracle and Rudy.

Now, stories are a big part of my profession in the content marketing industry. As a content strategist at Skyword, I help enterprise brands craft the type of stories their audiences crave, whether looking for professional help or pure entertainment.

While stories today for me may not always seek to entertain first, some of the best “serious” brand storytelling includes elements of humor. Here I’ve rounded up ways brands can incorporate elements of entertainment in brand storytelling.

Listen, then Tell

Growing up in a family of four kids, it was hard to get a word in at the dinner table. Though I always had something to say, I learned it was important to listen, too.

At work, listening allows for learning and ultimately growth as an employee. Active listening is a crucial part of the pre-story creation process. When brainstorming topics, opinions can come from all directions. To ensure each stakeholder feels valued, you need to constantly focus on recognizing and incorporating everyone’s opinions. This starts by listening.

Stories Should Entertain…Even When That’s Not the Main Purpose

Most of the time (with the exception of something like a news piece), stories include some factor of entertainment. Keeping the entertainment factor top of mind when creating content is a great way to harness the power of emotional storytelling. While these stories may not take you to Never Neverland, business stories can still trigger a feeling of love, empathy, hope, or anger.

As part of their “Message of Care” campaign, Kleenex tells the story of Chance the rescue dog and his owner, both of whom are in wheelchairs.

Seeing a dog run around in a wheelchair, happy to be alive, is both entertaining and endearing. Together, Chance and his owner become best friends.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Content marketing can manifest in short, snackable content such as listicles, eye-popping infographics, video series, and much more. Stories come in all shapes and sizes, but matching those shapes and sizes to how your audience wants the story delivered is key to effective brand storytelling.

To determine which story format to use, brands must understand who their audience is, what their passions are, and how they will connect emotionally to each piece.

For one of our clients at Skyword, we aim to target 20 – 30-year-olds in Manhattan. These people tend to be busy, on-the-go, and focused on saving time and money. To match our target audience, we create listicles for them to consume on a weekly basis.

At the Content Standard, the team recognizes its audience craves both quick news updates and long-form stories that inspire. These insights are learned through trial and error, but also provide a clearer understanding of who you’re publishing for in the first place.

Stay Positive

One thing that I learned from Robert McKee is to focus on a resolution, and ultimately leave your consumer with a positive feeling, even though the story contains conflict. Pose an intriguing question or relate the theme of the story back to a life event. If the story focuses on the challenges of someone’s career, perhaps end the story by asking the reader how this story will shape how they’ll think about their particular role or job at a company.

An example of a brand that successfully incorporates this tactic is Coca-Cola. The company’s recent “Make it Happy” commercial begins with the negativity that can consume us every day online, but toward the end the company turns the story around and leaves you with a happy feeling.

Make Mundane Funny

Ultimately, you want readers to remember your brand in a positive light and lead them to a buying decision. Progressive does this well. Despite being in an industry that is often perceived as mundane—insurance—the company spokeswoman, Flo, keeps her messages sassy.

Stories, for Work and for Life

I never expected my career to revolve around storytelling. I never expected what I learned through characters of old would help me move my clients forward as they strategize and begin to tell brand stories. I used to think of stories purely as entertainment either through comedy or adventure. However, over the past year at Skyword I’ve learned how important effective storytelling is in building a brand’s audience and becoming more relatable to their consumers.

Stories create the opportunity for self-expression, and while my job at Skyword revolves around helping clients tell stories, it has also shown me the importance of stories in my personal life. The ability to tell a story creates a sense of openness with others and allows people to connect, relate, and bond with one another. In a world full of technology, social media, and neverending mobile device connectedness, stories create genuine human connections.

Want to learn how to engage with your audience and tell great content marketing stories? Skyword can help.

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