Getting someone’s attention isn’t easy. Holding it? That’s even more difficult. The reason it’s so hard is that we’re often forcing our business-related information on people, and no one wants to hear about our business. Not until they’re ready at least. Storytelling is the solution.
When you have the opportunity to talk to someone, especially for the first time, give them value, not a direct pitch. One really easy way to do this is to provide content that is infused with a story. It can be indirectly related to whatever it is that you sell, but the more genuine the story, the better.
Quora, the perfect example of how storytelling increases engagement
Quora recently reminded me of the power of authenticity and how storytelling increases engagement dramatically. Initially, Quora may appear as a simple question and answer site, similar to Yahoo answers. However, a deeper look at the content that performs well on the platform tells us that Quora is really a medium for storytelling.
Common questions that could be answered with a couple sentences transform into a story about Johnny’s life-changing accident when he was 32. It makes you wonder why these lengthy pieces of content have such high engagement rates.
Just take a quick peek at what top Quora writers do. They hardly ever explicitly answer a question. Most often they talk about life lessons based on their experience. And it’s these stories that increase engagement and lead them to the top of the pack. This is exactly what we are looking to do. Who doesn’t love a good story?
James Altucher is an expert at this. Look at how he begins an answer to a question that could easily be answered in a more direct, and obvious way:
Couldn’t he have just made a list of the steps? I mean he’s written several best-selling books. You would figure he’d know the best answer. But that would be boring.
I’ve been writing on Quora for a while now, but only in the past month have I started to incorporate more stories.
The result? More views this month than ever before, and an answer that went semi-viral. In March I had 27,000 answer views on Quora. For April, I’ll most likely end up with close to 70,000 views.
Over 40,000 of those views coming from a single answer…
Will these people buy anything from me? Join my newsletter? Visit my website? Acknowledge my existence? Or even read the full answer? Most likely not.
Create engaging content for long term growth
With an increase in engagement like the above example, you’ll see more inbound traffic, a growing personal brand, and hopefully conversions on your website. It’s all part of the inbound strategy. You just have to provide the initial value and realize that it’s an investment that will pay dividends in the future.
My argument here is not necessarily that you should use Quora to drive traffic (although it can be an effective inbound tool). I’m simply urging you to try spinning your content into a more authentic form to increase the level of engagement.
Try applying this to Instagram by writing personal content captions about you or your business. Or maybe interview successful people in your niche. It truly depends on what resonates with people who you would consider prospective customers. What are they looking for and what do they like sharing?
This works for both businesses and people who are trying to build a personal brand online. Check out Max Sandelin‘s Instagram captions, they’re incredibly long. More like mini blog posts than captions. But they create an engaging story as he shares updates on his life and career.
Create the compelling content that increases your engagement rates and indirectly lets people know what it is that you do. This is the key to getting their eyes on your content, reminding them indirectly that you exist, and developing a level of trust that will allow you to eventually sell to them.
Although this can be an effective part of the inbound strategy, it isn’t an exact science. No one knows for sure what content will go viral. But by understanding the type of content that people find compelling, we can create content that earns views and shares. Simply enough, storytelling increases engagement by giving your business or personal brand a more emotional, personal, ultimately “human” side. People like when businesses are more than just a moneymaking asset.
Leverage this factor when crafting your next piece. How can you develop your brand, your product, your offering into a compelling piece that actually makes people want to read or view your content?
How can you distribute content that get’s people interested in what you do? Instead of cold emailing people with an offer, could you give them something to laugh about or connect with on an emotional level?
Storytelling increases engagement, which means people not only notice you, they trust you. If you want to get eyes on your content, stay on it, and even share it, start telling a story. It’s powerful no matter how large or small your business is.
TL;DR Storytelling increases engagement. Period.
Also, here’s my full Quora answer that earned over 40,000 views.