Storytelling in the age of content tsunami

In the old days, it used to be simple. You built a company. You told that story.

Not anymore. Multiple waves of innovation have hit the shores of Sales and Marketing. Over the last decade, the waves have got new names. Content Marketing. Inbound Marketing. Digital Marketing. It’s no longer enough to have a message we want to share. If we are a self-respecting company, we need to share that message at least in triplicate. Across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. Not just that. On our blog, on other expert industry blogs, on Instagram. And more sprinklings across the web that keep getting discovered. And then we twiddle our thumbs and wonder why our content is not going viral. Why counting likes and shares is ending up being a countless exercise.

With everyone now a publisher across their chosen platforms, are we seeing a Tsunami of unliked and unshared content? I like to think of the content tsunami that surrounds us today as the old Tortoise and Hare story we all read while growing up. But first, let’s characterize our heroes of the story.

The tortoise — slow, steady, and yes, boring.

The hare- fast, bubbly, easily distracted.

Now, let’s imagine a buzz vs. impact matrix with our content that races either like the hare or like the tortoise. What results do we see in this content race?

  • Long, boring? (Valley of boredom). The tortoise doesn’t win alone.
  • Sudden burst of likes? (The rain of likes). Neither does the hare.
  • Content that is not even true? (Lost island of tall claims). If both lose, we obviously lose too.
  • Or are we actually reaching content peak, where the hare and the tortoise both win?

The content peak is not just some imaginary land of Utopian dreams. I believe there are two or more roads to reach it.

1. Premium Content: A magazine like New Yorker knows just how to get us to hit the wall of free content and leave us craving for premium and therefore, paid content that we want to read and do not mind paying for. Call it need for sustenance or good sense, many reputed magazines and newspapers are now shifting to the subscription model. Back to the days when content was not free or unlimited. When editing was important. As was creativity in writing and fact-checking.

2. Authentic storytelling: I am not a Marketing expert. In fact, I must confess that I did not finish reading Kotler during my MBA days. So I am in no position to share tips on Marketing. But I have been an avid student of stories. And there’s something curious I have noticed about stories.

The best stories stay with us. Shock us. Make us laugh. Or cry. They connect with us. And isn’t that what every company is trying to do? I believe that the other way to reach the content peak is by telling your true story. Not by trying to create an image that is not true. But by being consistent and true and real. All I hope is that storytelling does not become another buzzword. It’s tough for buzz to stay true and consistent. And storytelling is one of the oldest human skills. So we can’t claim that it’s new.

Are you seeing the content tsunami or glimpsing the content peak? What have been your learnings? Would love to hear your thoughts.