As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m preparing to enter a certificate program this fall through University of Washington. The Storytelling and Content Strategy program will boost my storytelling skills and teach me the tools to think about communicating in a more strategic way across all platforms. With the fast-paced social media world we live in, honing both my storytelling and strategy skill sets is key.
One way I’m preparing for my program is reading a lot of books on storytelling, as well as volunteering and with a summer internship.
Recently, I met with a non-profit I’m working with, providing advice on marketing best practices for some upcoming events. During the meeting, I threw out several approaches on how to reach their target audience, both for their existing audience and potential audience.
One piece of advice I gave them was that they should expand to new areas in order to reach new people. This sounds so simple, but it can be a struggle not just to keep up with all the different platforms available to use, never mind taking the time to ensure you’re fluent enough in those platforms to be effective.
I feel like the particular ways in which we can now reach people have created this kind of paradox. It’s simultaneously easier and harder to spread messages to more people than ever. I go back and forth with this paradox a lot, and it usually looks something like this:
Me, grinning: There are so many ways to reach people now! Also me, with my thinking cap on: There are so many ways to reach people now.
I get it. If you are a writer, entrepreneur or other business professional scratching your head trying to come up with a marketing strategy, I know your struggle. I’m a communications professional and I can see how the idea of which format, which medium to use, can cause a huge case of overwhelm.
The hard fact is if you want to reach a new audience, or even your current one (hello, algorithm changes!), you need to use more than one format. That could look like a combination of any of the following:
Website/Blog: I know far too many people say blogging is dead and, probably because of that, so many blogs are abandoned, or just never got off the ground. Here’s the thing: a blog provides a space on the internet belongs to you. That is gold. Post short updates about your business, feature type articles about your employees, or develop a series so that you can create one format and re-purpose it with content over a specific length of time. For instance, if you’re a writer working on a book, you could create a series of blog posts about your process: how you outline, the ways you self-edit, how you found beta readers, etc.
Social Media: There are tons of social media sites out there. That does not mean you have to be on all of them. Pick two to three that work the best for not only your personality, but also your business, and then rock those two to three platforms. For example, a musician could share videos on YouTube, (obviously), but also utilize Facebook to share where their fans can catch them performing live and use Instagram to take pictures of them at the mic while recording or use Instagram stories to share snippets of music that hasn’t been released elsewhere yet.
Video: This can seem daunting, and maybe even an expensive way to tell a story, but thanks to technology, it’s totally doable. A good smartphone or decent digital camera can capture amazing, high quality video. This type of storytelling is vital to someone in the fashion or beauty industry, but also people in real estate, home repair and even the food industry.
Podcast: Maybe writing, video or pictures aren’t your thing, but you’re super knowledgeable about your industry and maybe even prefer to be “behind the scenes.” Podcasting could be a way to break into another area and reach a new audience. Getting started is pretty easy, and there’s loads of helpful tutorials out there, like this one.
Infographics: Infographics can be such great tools. They tell a story using data and facts, but are usually aesthetically pleasing and can be read quickly, which is part of what makes them so popular. They’re also perfect for sharing on your own website and social media channels, especially Pinterest.
These are just some of the ways you can find your audience online. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but if you give some of my advice a try, I do hope you’ll come back and let me know how it worked for you!