Stories: The Internal Content Production Gateway Drug
Encouraging internal content creation can be difficult, especially among non-marketers within your organization. Getting them to distribute content can be even more difficult.
Prevailing wisdom tells us that a majority of blog content should be top-of-the-funnel, following Jay Baer’s Youtility model of education over promotion.
While this content typically outperforms others in terms of generating inbound traffic and leads, its creation can be difficult to scale outside of the marketing department. Even in cases where (superior!) institutional knowledge and tactical experience exist, content creation just doesn’t come naturally to the sales person, programmer or customer service rep.
The Struggle with Non-Marketers
In my experience encouraging B2B content from colleagues, the common objections are usually one of the following:
- I’m not a good writer
- I don’t really know how to blog
- I don’t see the value
- I see the value, but I don’t have time
- I see the value, but that doesn’t really sound fun
The “fun” aspect is really critical to internally-produced content. While it can be fun for content marketers to write advice posts, listicles or how-to guides, it doesn’t come naturally to non-marketers.
That’s why stories are so powerful. Stories make blogging (and sharing) fun. Here are a few reasons why:
Stories Take the Pressure Off
If you want to see what a deer in the headlights looks like, ask a non-marketer to write a blog post for you. If you want a non-marketer to actually write a blog post for you, ask them to tell a story.
Why stories? Because they’re easier.
Recounting a personal experience comes more naturally than manufacturing advice.
For example, it was easier for our VP of Sales to tell the story of the first time he asked someone for a donation as a young fundraiser, rather than write “7 Tips For Year-End Fundraising On a Budget.” It was easier for one of our software developers to tell the story of our volunteer trip to a weekend hackathon for nonprofits, rather than write “3 Ways to Avoid Donation Form Abandonment.”
Those advice posts should get written eventually, but a story represents the smallest and least intimidating barrier-to-entry for a new blogger. You’ll be more successful in soliciting content when you invite someone to write from the heart first (and often). Your budding blogger may discover that they actually enjoyed the exercise, and if you can prove ROI (or even just show that it was shared/read) they’ll be hooked.
Stories Make Sharing More Natural
Speaking of sharing; who wants to share a corporate blog post to their personal networks? Well, if it’s a personal story, the chances of that happening increase significantly. It will resonate more with their friends and family, whose feedback will be invaluable in making the whole experience a positive one.
You may find that your non-marketers will only distribute their own content. That’s an OK start, especially if you can achieve a high quantity of contributors.
Stories Are Immune to Content Regurgitation
If you’re worried about content shock or non-plagiarized duplicate content, stories are the answer. A personal story is almost guaranteed to be entirely unique, even if it’s an individual take on a shared or common experience. There’s very little danger in ever seeing a competing or coincidentally similar post. Yay!
Stories Round Out Your Funnel
Storytelling is versatile. These posts can fit into any stage of the funnel. While takeaways from the story of a unique customer interaction could be framed as top-of-the-funnel tips, the post could also serve bottom-of-the-funnel purchases.
On-brand, thoughtful retrospection lets late-stage prospects know that your employees are human. Stories will give them insights into what they can expect, philosophically and culturally, from your team.
The challenge here is making sure these stories remain on-brand. Your topic model will guide you, but don’t be afraid to test its outer fringes.
While a new blogger’s first story isn’t exactly going to set your analytics on fire, it does plant the seed of content creation over the long-term, and that’s definitely an investment any content lead should make.