Storytelling has been the foundation of civilisation since day one. From illustrations to fables, novels to films, every age has bonded, educated and entertained through the power of narrative.
And nothing’s changed.
On the contrary, during the turbulent times of 2020 (you see, you don’t have to use ‘unprecedented’ every time) narrative is perhaps more important now than ever before. Why? Because storytelling helps establish our shared culture, forging connections through the values that unite us.
Don’t believe us? Wondering why you should care? Let’s dig a little deeper...
The science of storytelling
Science and humanities don’t always get along, but, when it comes to the art of storytelling, science is certainly on our side.
When we hear a story, it sparks a chemical brain response through the production of oxytocin - a hormone that promotes our sense of empathy, love and connection. This, in turn, makes us more inclined to act by heightening our emotional response. It’s the reason so many charities utilise storytelling - the more oxytocin your body produces, the more likely you are to donate.
Better yet, cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner concludes that we are 22 times more likely to remember something if it’s presented in the form of a narrative. Content that’s more effective and more memorable? Sounds like a win-win to us...
The application of narrative
How can content marketers look to utilise narrative in their latest creation?
Effective storytelling in content marketing is the skill of aligning your narrative with the pain points of your audience.
This can be established through the art of fictional storytelling, utilising literary devices such as metaphor to help audiences recognise, comprehend and relate. On the other hand, you can utilise narrative through non-fictional storytelling, playing on the power of first-person experience or the authenticity of user-generated content.
Of course, the approach you take depends entirely on the type of content you’re producing and the audience you’re speaking to. As a rule of thumb, we recommend your narrative is fuelled by a desire to evoke an emotional response, build connections and establish transparent meaning.
To do this effectively, consider the following when crafting your narrative:
- The speaker’s perspective - who is speaking, what is their perspective and how does this affect the course of your narrative?
- The narrative purpose - what’s your message and how will this be communicated throughout?
- The emotional dynamic - which emotions are you looking to evoke in your audience and how?
- The unique tone - how will you incorporate a distinctive brand voice into your narrative?
- The narrative length - what is the optimal length to entice (without overloading) your audience?
Narrative in 2020
Amidst the global pandemic, narrative has emerged as a popular content approach. Why? Because it’s a universal problem we’re all facing together.
As previously touched on, storytelling unites us through the alignment of core values and the relatability of shared experiences. Adopting a narrative evokes an emotional response through the incorporation of the collective. Speaker and reader, brand and audience - we’re all on this journey together.
Establishing this common ground through narrative boasts greater benefits than empathetic engagement, too. By contextualising experience through relatable, easy-to-understand storytelling, you can make audiences more likely to understand and make more progress on the issue at hand.
Take the UK government’s recurring use of war metaphors as a recent example. From ‘fighting this invisible enemy’ to ‘adopting blitz spirit’, this evocative war imagery elicits an obvious emotional response, while presenting the required actions with clarity.
People object to being told we all must isolate. People relate to everyone coming together and adopting blitz spirit. Two ways of presenting the same idea, with drastically different receptions - this is the power of narrative at work.
Wondering how your business can successfully incorporate narrative into your content strategy? Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help.