Storytelling in content marketing: the secret of high-performing content

Dirkje Viljoen


November 23, 2022

March 22, 2024

Young marketers discussing content as they look at an iPad

There’s always a guy at the party telling you the story about his ski trip that just… keeps… going. Yeah, that guy. Your brand can’t be like him. Keep reading to find out why storytelling in content marketing is the secret to making your content the star of the show on social media.

On top of everything else, I have to be a storyteller too?!

Well, yes. But it’s not as daunting as it might sound! 

There’s a lot of talk about storytelling in marketing circles these days, from how you do your brand marketing or pitch your product, to creating a strategic narrative that supports your position in the market. Storytelling can seem really BIG, and really time consuming. You’d be excused for wondering how you’re supposed to find the time to bring storytelling into your everyday content. Not to worry. When we say storytelling we don’t mean epic tales of heroes and villains (well, not always, and definitely not in the manner of a full length feature film).

But there’s something to be learnt from the way epic tales are told and why they work. And that something is creating your content with a narrative structure. Do that and you’re way more likely to hook your audience, keep them watching – and make sure they remember you and what you’re saying. 

Narrative structures support your content goals

The narrative structure of a video, blog post or ad is not the specific information you’re presenting. The narrative structure is how you present that information and in what order.

Let’s take a simple example that most people can relate to. Your company releases a report – it could be annual financial results, it could be market research – and you need to create a post or article about that report. You might  lead with the title of the report, mention the purpose and a few bullets of what’s covered, followed by a link. That’s one way to structure it. 

Or you could lead with a major takeaway from the report that you know your audience will love, provide just enough information to pique attention, and then present the title of the report and where they can read more. That’s another way. The information is the same, but the structure is different. 

It’s knowing how to use narrative structures that brings the power of storytelling to your content.

An essential part of your content toolbox

When we talk about using storytelling in your content, what we mean is making use of a narrative structure to convey your message in a way that supports the objective or goal of your content. Whether that’s to keep the audience consuming your content to the end, to follow a CTA, or to respond to your content in some other way.

But, coming up with an effective, original narrative structure every time you write an article, script a video or compose a post for social media isn't easy, and takes time that we’re not willing to spend. 

Engaging narrative structures are everywhere, you see them in great marketing content, magazines, movies, books and TV. We’ve been using them to pass on information as long as storytelling has existed. If you're curious, a quick search will uncover a bunch of different ones that you can adapt for your own content.

Edit 05/12/22: We've built 99 templates based on the most effective narrative structures and content formats around. We call them Script Templates and they are here for the taking!

At Storykit we see these narrative structures as a way to bring the power of storytelling into all kinds of different content. By using well-designed and effective narrative formats as part of your content creation and distribution toolbox you’ll see benefits to productivity and performance:

Storytelling works for your audience

  • It increases your distribution and reach 

If you produce content that engages your audience, you get better reach; the algorithm prioritises your content because people respond well to it, and your audience is more willing to share it. 

  • Better content performs… better

It seems banal to say, but the added quality of making your content entertaining or engaging to your audience has a real impact on their ability to retain your message and respond to your CTA

  • It’s easier to consume formatted content

Knowing what to expect helps the audience follow and understand the message you want to convey. Just look at some of the most addictive TV programs and you’ll see they’re built on one of a few formats that have been used forever.

Storytelling formats will work for your content team

  • A clear structure for new content ideas

With storytelling formats, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every new piece of content, and you’ll be able to plan and execute faster when the bulk of the work is done upfront!

  • Test and learn with ease

When you already know what works, you can cut out guesswork and cut to the chase – instead of testing what to say, you’ll be able to tweak how you deliver it

Repurposing content - an example of storytelling formats in action

Time and money goes into producing good content - so one of the most important things you need to do is distribute that content so it gets seen by the right people and your content ROI goes up. Storytelling formats make repurposing and reformatting your content really efficient. Different people find the same article interesting for different reasons - the key to getting more people to consume your content is to present them with the right “bait”, so to speak. The right storytelling format is the key to reaching them. Here’s how:

1. Longer-form content, like a video, article or report, can be spliced into smaller pieces to suit each of your audience segments simply by finding a format that works and swapping out the points you highlight.

2.  Formats help you distribute your content effectively. Depending on the nature of the channels your audience frequents, you’ll find that different formats work better for different channels, even if the underlying information is the same.“We have to tell the story differently on YouTube from the way we tell it on Instagram”, said Peder Bonnier, CEO & Founder of Storykit, on episode 9 of Storykit Talks Live. 

Find out more about storytelling in episode 9 of Storykit Talks

In Storykit Talks ep. 9, Jonna & Peder dive into storytelling and talk about:

  • Why storytelling so relevant in a social-lead attention economy
  • Different examples of storytelling formats they like
  • Actionable examples of putting storytelling formats into practice 

Apple Podcasts  Spotify Podcasts 

Curious about putting storytelling formats into practice?

You’ll find actionable tips in episode 8 of Storykit Talks: Why the formula for content efficiency is storytelling formats.

Apple Podcasts  Spotify Podcasts 

We dig into:

  • What storytelling formats are
  • How to use storytelling formats to fill your content calendar
  • How to use storytelling formats to produce a lot of QUALITY content, quickly

Ready to create high quality videos?
Try Storykit today.

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