I had one of the most inspiring ad-hoc Facebook interviews with my in-house copywriter last night… I was getting excited about my leaving to Europe in a couple of days, but as it seems, my team would not allow me to leave on a holiday without bringing my contribution to the Super Savvy Business community.
Here’s how it all started
Me (announcing my trip on Facebook): Getting excited… only a couple of days before I head off overseas on a big European trip with my boys… It’s times like this I’m so grateful to have a systemised business, supported by my wonderful virtual team!!
Marieta: Fe, that’s great, hope you’ll have lots of fun in Europe! By the way, remember how you told me to do a bit of research on story arcs? Me and the guys from the team have come up with a really cunning idea… You will have to work on your trip!
Me: Hmmmm… I had a feeling you were cooking something up?
Marieta: Well, you know us, the restless team… So, are you curious to see what it is we have come up with?
Me: I’m guessing you’re going to get me busy creating story arcs throughout Europe??? Am I on the right track?
Marieta: You’re close… we’re sending you on your trip to Europe with a PURPOSE: discovering the European way of doing internet marketing and at the same time demonstrating to your followers what story arcs are made of. We figured this is the perfect opportunity for you to really demonstrate how to increase social media engagement by using story arcs.
Me: Really- it is the perfect opportunity to show our community what story arcs are all about. It’s something I learnt from Nick Bowditch – head of Facebook for Business in Australia…
Marieta: So you’ve been hanging out with Nick Bowditch, have you?
Me: Sure have… and I’ve learnt some killer strategies about how to really engage with your followers in Social Media. But I guess the first thing to do is let everyone know exactly WHAT a story arc is?
Marieta: I think it would be a good idea to write an article about this, Fe. It will give your followers a better understanding of what we’re about to do. Which is a great thing!
Me: Great idea – I’ll get onto it straight away… Stay tuned guys – this is going to be a fun ride!
So here I am, a day later, writing like crazy while packing my bags for Europe.
If you hang on with me until the end of this article, you are going to find out what a story arc is, how you can use it online and how we are going to implement it in this new project that we’ve called:
“Take Action Weekly With Fe. In Europe!”
…which is me. In Europe. (^_^)
ATTENTION! If you want to see what we’re going to do and how me and my team are going to make use of story arcs, make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter. Alternatively, you can follow me on Facebook, where most of the action will take place.
But first of all, let’s see
What is a Story Arc after all?
I guess we have all watched a whole season of TV series at some point or another (which one was your favourite?), and these are the perfect examples of how story arcs are built. Remember how each episode ended in a moment of crisis? How you would count the days until the next episode to see how things unfold? This is exactly what story arcs are all about: telling your audience a story in episodes.
In order to be able to create the arc, we would need a medium to promote our stories. This is called the storytelling media and it can be:
- Comic books
- Even Webcomics or Newspaper comics
Insofar as the purpose of the story arc is concerned, in theory it moves an individual (a character) from one situation to another, causing change. After all, the whole goal of a story – even the classical ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – is to effect change in at least one character (in our example, both the Beauty and the Beast – roar!).
For example, the Beast will have to learn how to express his feelings and how to accept the love of another human being; Beauty will have to learn how to take matters into her own hands and fight for her love. In these quests characters are each learning something new about themselves which effects change.
How to create story arcs
There are three main points in a classical story arc. In contemporary drama, they follow the pattern:
- First bringing the character to a low point
- Then removing the structures the character depends on
- And finally forcing the character to find new strength without those structures. (source: Wikipedia)
e.g.: Every show or series that is entitled “Following ABC’s story in ___” is a story arc.
And as CopyBlogger puts it,
“Using storylines within single articles is a good way to develop a brand, but to truly move beyond this need-solution perspective, the audience needs to engage with what contemporary marketers call the brand story – the actual story of what is happening to the brand persona over time.”
What this means is you have to create an emotional connection with your readers. We like stories because we connect with them emotionally. We recognise ourselves in them; we come to love the main character and team up with them; the setting takes us to another world where everything is possible; we are connected to that world. 100%.
And just like traditional stories captivate us, this is what you have to do with your followers. If you are successful in doing that, then readers/viewers will being to naturally wonder about your brand. Things like, “What’s new with that business? What happened next?” will pop up in people’s minds and they will be drawn to your website/whatever.
And this is your scope, your goal: to have them come back. This is what a story arc can do for you.
4 Examples of Online Story Arcs
So far we’ve seen what story arcs are, how they are used in traditional media and how you can identify them. Ok, ok, but what’s in it for you? Well, you know how much I love the online medium; it’s unimaginably flexible and you can do whatever you want on it. You can promote your products in ways that the traditional media doesn’t even allow you to start thinking about. Anyway, when it comes to creating online story arcs, the range of options you are given is immense.
To give you some ideas on how to create story arcs for businesses, here is something you could do:
If you want to launch a product, you can start by pre-launching it. Use some warm-up content to announce the launching of your product and use it as a lead-up to the story’s climax. The launch itself will be the main ‘attraction’ of the story, and then of course, you can always use a post-launch to replace the denouement of the story. The post-launch can come in the form of testimonials, reviews, feedback from users, videos from the event (if there is any), and so on.
- A series of articles:
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to have people come back to your site is to divide one BIG article in two ‘episodical’ articles. So if, let’s say, you want to write about 4 time management tools, in the first article you can only name 3, and keep the best tool for another article. Announce it at the end of the first article and tell people when you are going to publish it. Readers will come back.
- Cross promotion:
You can promote your ‘episodes’ using other media (which is known as transmedia storytelling), such as guest blogging, video interviews on YouTube, on social media, or through online advertising. Using the offline medium to promote an online event/product/service is also part of this category.
Do you have a big idea you want to talk about in an article or a video? Then you might be in the possession of a story arc. You can develop a story arc by keeping the discussion going around a give story line in your posts. For example, you can start with the big idea, then choose a sub-idea of the big idea, and then a sub-idea of the sub-idea – you narrow things down, offer high quality content to your customers and you also have them come back. What’s better than that?
If you want to make the story about yourself (because every brand needs a hero), here are 5 classical stories you can use to create your own, genuine story arc:
1. Personal Growth, or the transformation of the main character (a personal blog is indicated for this).
+’s: It is one of the most coherent ways to organise stories. It gives readers a reason to read on, since flat/non-changing characters are not that interesting.
-‘s: This is the traditional, all too well-known story plot. It might be predictive at some point (BUT not if you are using real life as inspiration! You never know what tomorrow brings).
2. Self-Discovery, or finding the strength within yourself. You can use the motto, “Be yourself!”, because this is mainly what the story will be about: your discovery of your true self.
+’s: The reader will be able to connect with you on a more intimate level. And of course, you get to learn something new about yourself.
-‘s: You could get lost in unnecessary rambling. You are still working for the greater good of your company, so avoid too much psychological insight and keep things relevant.
3. Single Goal, or how you gave up everything in favour of your family and your business. In this story you focus on a single goal, which can be creating the family-friendly lifestyle of an online business owner.
+’s: It’s an easy idea to work with if you have never written anything else before.
-‘s: The reader knows where you’re going and what the ending will be.
4. Geographic Quest, or the story of the Little Red Riding Hood trying to make it in the big city.
+’s: You will have lots of geographic motion, which will give your story extra energy and fresh things to talk about. Sometimes these stories are the epic ones.
-‘s: Geographical changing is not enough, you risk repeating yourself and being conventional. Find something innovative to counterpart this minus.
5. A Chronicle of ‘Don’t do like this’, or speaking about another character’s downfall (see The Great Gatsby).
+’s: You have a golden nugget here, one that brings freshness into storytelling. It’s a story with a moral ending, so you can prove your business’ point with it.
-‘s: You will have to accomplish something difficult: the interesting failure of a character. At the same time, you cannot use real life examples without their permission, and you cannot denigrate them in any way while telling your story.
Remember: At the heart of your story you need to have your brand’s message. The message that you are sending must invoke change: it must move prospects from dissatisfaction to satisfaction and not be a boring display of features and benefits.
Phew! I believe this is all I want to share with you at this moment… But get ready for the really interesting articles that are about to come.
Sign up to get access to an innovative series of video releases & discover the lifestyle of an online business owner! See how we are using story arcs to create engaging content. You WILL receive 10 entirely exquisite video releases hot in your email.
You can become a follower of this story arc too. I’m planning to discover Europe’s newest online marketing secrets and I want to share them with you! My team have made it all possible: they’ve created a map, sketched the illustrations and took care of the coding part.
I, Fe, will be the one working for you. I’m now heading to Europe with a goal – to give you exclusive insight into what Europe has best in terms of:
- Online marketing
- SEO & Traffic
- Social media marketing
- Mobile & Responsive
Don’t miss this opportunity. Take action with Fe. (ahem, moi)