Chapter 2. Stories and other content

A. What makes a great story?

Now that you have a strategy, how will you influence those that connect? Some things do not change over time. Good story-telling is one of them. It does not matter if it is in social media or face-to-face dialog.

1. Good stories are powerfully effective for motivating people to action.

2. Stories cut through our human fabric regardless of culture, language, or ethnicity.

3. We need stories to survive because we tell ourselves stories when there is a disaster.

4. We learn lessons from experiences that are incredibly hard.

Example: When there is an incident in the airline industry, there is a search for the ‘black box’ because it tells the story and provides means for future safety.

5. A good story always has a direct or implied lesson.

6. Great stories drive the success of digital publishing.

7. A written story is one way to tell a story. You can also tell a story with just one picture or a short video.

8. Good stories always contain the following:

a) In a few sentences, set up the initial who, what, and where. Give the audience a framework to interpret your story. Don’t make it too long, but give enough information to get it started. For example:

Story 1: I (John) was helping those injured after the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia.

Story 2: In March, I boarded a plane to Singapore. It is a good airline with experienced pilots.

Story 3: After finishing one more book, the Robinsons will be done translating the entire New Testament.

b) All good stories have a conflict, a difficulty, or a problem to resolve. For example:

Story 1: While helping the victims of the tsunami, I fell ill with dengue fever. I continued to work some but eventually got worse and worse. Medical supplies were limited, and I almost died.

Story 2: When the plane reached cruising altitude, I sensed an unnatural drag. Something was wrong. The left aileron was stuck in the down position.

Story 3: One day they lost power while working on their translation, and the computer hard drive crashed. They lost all the data on it. The entire translation was gone.

c) How was the conflict resolved? What happened? Sometimes the story does not have a happy conclusion. These stories may not attract someone to your website or Facebook page. Your resolution should imply a moral or value. You should not have to say what that is, since it might be different for each person.

Story 1: The organization I came with made an emergency run to Singapore and got the medicine I needed. The doctors said I only would have lived only a few more days without the medication. Next time, I will get treatment right away.

Story 2: The pilot told the passengers that the plane needed to turn around. We were petrified. The trip back to the airport was very unstable, but we eventually landed safely. Later, I found out a church was praying for me at that exact time!

Story 3: They prayed. After they prayed, they noticed a small device plugged into the back of their laptop. Several months earlier, a computer person had set up a backup automatically on a thumb drive. When they checked the drive, all the data was there except for the last day’s work. They rejoiced greatly. They repaired the computer, restored the data, and were back to work in just few days. In January they will dedicate their New Testament.

B. You must create good content

1. Content draws people to your website and to your Facebook page.

2. Good content creates interest and great content creates a community of people devoted to your cause.

3. Utilize a variety of media.

a) Often visitors decide in less than half a second about your website or Facebook page. In that time, they decide to stay or move on.

b) Text alone – especially lengthy text – will not get people interested.

4. Use the right picture to tell a story.

a) You should watch for things in your community that are interesting and tell a story.

(1) Perhaps you can get a picture of someone interacting with your app.

(2) Perhaps you can get a picture of someone interacting with your website or Facebook page.

b) There are license-free pictures on the internet.

One source: www.flickr.com/creativecommons/.

c) Make sure you have permission to use the pictures.  You can set Google to only display images with a specific license (see Chapter 6).

d) The pictures do not have to be super high quality (large file size). Make sure they are clear on a normal computer screen.

5. Videos can tell powerful stories, even videos recorded with your phone.

a) You could interview people who visit your website and ask them how it affected them.

b) You need to create a plan (script) for your video before you do it.

c) Use setup, conflict, and resolution to make your story good. (Remember the example stories in Section A?)

6. In every story, video, or picture, you should always include a link to your website.

C. Practice this right now and write a short story, good content

1. It should be one that you can post on your website.

2. It could be one you can post on your Facebook page.