You’ve probably been there. What do I write on my blog, in my newsletter, on social media, and on my website to best connect with my audience?

Experts have written books about how to best get your audience’s attention, engage them around a topic and inspire them to take action, like Content Rules by  Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, Start With Why by Simon Sinek, UnMarketing by Scott Stratten, Managing Content Marketing by Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi, Engagement Marketing by Gail F. Goodman, Engagement form Scratch! by Danny Iny and a bunch of other smart super bloggers, and Contagious by Jonah Berger.

Is your head spinning yet? Don’t worry, my Storytelling 101 series will help you make sense out of all this content strategy and audience engagement mess and get you on the path to becoming a storytelling genius. Ready? Let’s dive in:

What the heck should I talk about?

One of the first questions that comes up when thinking about what kind of content you want to share with your audience is “what the heck should I talk about?” In the early days of the “audience engagement effort” (like the phrase that I coined there? ;)), experts used to recommend you talk about your audience, about THEM. So businesses were putting all their effort into focusing their brand conversation on their audience’s needs and interest by sharing interesting, curated content often promoting other people’s work and linking to third-party sites – actually steering their precious audience away from their own services and offerings.

There was this queer notion that in order to build a following on Twitter or other social networks you needed to promote other people’s work. The altruistic behavior supposedly made you look cool and was supposed to help attract people to you.

People are interested in YOU

Well, turns out people follow you on social networks, sign up for your newsletter and read your blog posts because they’re interested in YOU. Your audience is interested in what you have to say about your mission, your business and – make no mistake about it – about the world around you. Surprise, surprise, right?!

But wait! By writing that I’m not giving you a permission slip to enter your phase of self-adulation. Nobody likes to listen to a bunch of self-involved messages all the time that are filled with self-praise and annoying sales pitches. Cut the crap before you even get started, hear me rebel?!

Rather share lessons that you’ve learned, tips and advice, an inspirational personal story, real-life success stories that make your product or service shine, quotes by others that mean something to you and why. And in general, it’s always good to start with why (hat tip to: Simon Sinek).

The truth is, the real storytelling juice lies somewhere in the middle. I’ve drawn that out for you so you can see what I mean by that:

Storytelling 101

As you can see, at the intersection of “Talk about yourself” and “Talk about them” is where the storytelling magic happens. Spend some time to think about how you can talk about yourself in a way that relates to your audience. Chances are what’s interesting to you is interesting to them.

Storytelling magic: Make it happen!

Instead of simply promoting your products and services, you can tell a story about why you created that particular product, what solution it provides for your audience and how people have benefited from your services and your expertise. You won’t come across as a self-absorbed business owner. Your audience will be inspired by your story, your message and your genuine desire to be of service.

So go on and find your sweet spot, rebels! And remember to sprinkle some rebel stardust over it to make your true voice shine

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