5 Principles of Effective 360 Storytelling

360 Storytelling
Author: Jacob Drake

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

If an incredible video is posted on YouTube amidst the 720,000 hours of video content uploaded every day, what is the likelihood your target audience will see it?

That depends entirely on your ability to effectively leverage integrated media, channel, and data analytics behind a full 360-degree storytelling strategy.

Today there is greater potential than ever before to build smart, hyper-targeted content strategies that best position you to get your story in front of your customers and key stakeholders regardless of the noise and clutter. And you can achieve that through the 5 principles of effective 360 integrated storytelling and content management.

  1. Plan your search engine footprint.

Proactively plan and control what your target audience sees about you on page one of the search engines. Think about how you search just about any kind of product, service, business, trend, event, etc. A few simple rules apply. You won’t read the same article twice. You are more likely to change search terms rather than go past page one. You will check out owned content, but you want to see credible third-party content as well.

Design your content strategy to enable your audience to control their own discovery journey. Diversity in storylines and content allows me to learn about you on my terms. I am essentially piecing together a puzzle about you in my mind based on my relationship with you and how I can benefit from you.

  1. Story and stakeholder alignment.

Content and storylines need to align with strategic business objectives and stakeholder wants/needs/value. That could mean planning your search engine footprint to help me learn and understand about your central product or service, new trends you want your company or brand to be associated with, sense of purpose and social performance, environmental and sustainability principles, financial performance, strategic partnerships and what distinguishes your employer brand. Or in most cases, all of the above. All contribute to how I form my opinion of you and the purpose and value you bring to me, my life, my business.

  1. Diversity in content.

Content is only king if it’s worthy of grabbing my attention in the snap of a finger (or scroll of a thumb). Video and animation that is easy to consume and surprises me. Interesting, impactful data visualization that is far more powerful than a by-the-numbers infographic. And just because we aren’t reading physical newspapers and magazines today doesn’t mean that news coverage isn’t just as important to your content mix today than ever. In fact, strong tier one news coverage in online publications with powerful search performance can have a significant lasting effect on a company’s search engine footprint.

  1. Owned and borrowed social channels.

A “one and done” posting strategy is likely to bury your content deep within overcrowded feeds. The goal is to improve the odds by connecting the dots between you and your target audience through a wide range of social channels. That could include tapping the channels, strategic partners and interests that are close to and aligned with your business, product, or service. Certainly, influencers fit within this group, as potentially do employees. How and where you extend the reach of your content depends on the story and audience.

  1. Power of data analytics.

This is the last mile. It’s where digital marketing and communications strategy come together with data analytics to give your content and storytelling true staying power. The beauty of a smart, hyper-targeted paid content promotion and optimization strategy is that companies don’t need to spend millions on a Super Bowl ad to get seen. In fact, in today’s world a few thousand dirhams can go a long way getting in greatly improving the chances your video will be viewed, your feature article read and your social channels followed. It’s all about leveraging data to be close to your audiences to enable understanding their search, social and online habits.

Whether we are talking consumer brands, B2B marketing, or government entities, while the target stakeholders and the overall content marketing approach will vary, these common principles apply.

Yes, it’s crowded. Yes, it’s noisy. And yes, getting eyeballs on your content is highly competitive.

But given the abundance of available channels and the ability to integrate targeted stakeholder data analytics into content, media, and social strategy, marketers can do more today than ever before to get interesting content in front of the people who truly matter, regardless of whether or not they are in the forest to hear that tree fall.