Entrepreneurial Institute

Creating Compelling Content - Storytelling for Impact

The other week, Tyler Riewer of charity: water joined us at the Leslie eLab to talk about creating stories that have an impact. charity: water's visual and written content displays incredible brand consciousness, which has helped establish charity: water as one of the most innovative and creative organizations in the nonprofit sector.

People like good, authentic stories they can relate to - whether that is for a social cause, for a product, or an app. But crafting a good story takes some work and time. Tyler offered tried and tested strategies for getting content right:

Be Intentional with Your Content

Don't treat your story like another thing you have to do. Spend time to craft every sentence, to get the images right, or to shoot your video from different angles. The same amount of care that goes into developing your project, organization, or startup should go into creating your content. Oftentimes, you do not get a lot of chances to tell your story, so don't miss your opportunity!

Know Your Audience

In order for your story to stick and have the intended effect, you have to know your audience! If possible, get to know your audience before drafting your story or pitch. We like to listen to content we can relate to on a personal level - if content makes us empathize, or answers questions, we begin to pay attention and engage. If you want your audience to listen, you have to meet them where they are, which means tailoring your content to what they care about.

Set Specific Goals

What do you want your story, video, or pitch to achieve? Set a goal and build your story from there - the purpose you have for your story will dramatically change how you tell it, the images you select, the music you use for your video. Be aware of how the way you tell your story will direct your audience's attention, mood, and engagement. At the end of your story or pitch, stick to only one, but very clear, call to action.

Be Willing to Learn

If you want to know if your story had the intended impact, you have to measure the results. This can be done in the form of clicks on a blog post, shares of a facebook link, views of a video, or donations received. Try to find out how people engaged with your content, what they liked and didn't like, what they found useful or helpful, or what made (or didn't make!) them support you. To do that, you can use A/B testing to find out what email subject line gets better open rates, or what color button gets more donations.
Your statistical findings are crucial because they will inform your future actions. If you think you failed to convey your purpose and mission, find out why and adapt your content. "Failure is only failure if you don't learn from it."

Try New Things

Storytelling can be a lot of fun because it gives you the liberty to try new things. You can do crazy things that other people wouldn't dare to do - this can give you an edge and make you stay in people's memory. Use the free channels available to you (facebook, youtube, vimeo, medium,...) to create different content and learn how people engage with different kinds of content. This is where you can let your creativity run free and have some fun!

Whether you are drafting a pitch for your startup, write a blog post about your nonprofit, or create a video for your crowdfunding campaign, keep these points in mind to help you create compelling content.