I’ve learned so many valuable things throughout this course, from how to harness the power of story, to how to find my unique audience, and develop and manage my personal brand. By far what’s stuck with me the most is a heightened appreciation and understanding of the importance of storytelling. Storytelling is what sets apart content that people actually want to read from simply listing opinions and facts. It’s all the in between stuff that captures people’s attention and interest and motivates them to get through the whole article, and maybe even develop an interest in you and your work. I know that this new perspective on storytelling will continue to shine through in my content. I no longer look at writing an article or a blog post as a way to simply convey information, but as an opportunity to tell a story and capture the audience’s attention which as we’ve learned leads to much more unique, and effective writing. The kind of stories I’d like to tell moving forward will tie in more of a personal touch and hopefully garner an emotional response whether that’s humour, inspiration, happiness or something entirely different.
- What is your greatest fear for your business?
- What is the greatest challenge your business must overcome?
For as long as I can remember, my greatest fear has been the fear of failing or making the wrong choice. This is a fear that I feel has, unfortunately hindered my progress in my life and career to an extent. The thing about fear is that to a certain extent it can be helpful. Everyone has a slight fear of failing or making poor choices, which is good because it stops us from doing things like taking unnecessary risks or putting major decisions in the hands of strangers. However, when it passes a certain level, the fear can become paralyzing. If you’re too afraid of failure to make any major decisions or movements with your life and business you’ll remain stagnant forever. This is my greatest fear, and the greatest challenge I must overcome in order to be successful. I’m proud to say I’ve already made a lot of progress in overcoming this fear, however I definitely have a long way to go. Forcing myself to follow through and pursue the things I want even when it scares me is difficult to say the least, but I know ultimately it’s the only way I can get closer to achieving my goals, so it’s well worth it.
Trying to pinpoint my own personal brand has been surprisingly difficult. I guess since I’ve never really tried to look at myself and my online content as a brand until now. However, after brainstorming about this for awhile, and awkwardly asking people “what makes me interesting?” I would say the main qualities that set me apart from others are probably my open-mindedness, and diversity of unique interests. Since I’m always open to learn and talk about almost anything, it makes from some interesting and unique discussions and has given me a pretty eclectic mix of hobbies. I’m also very dedicated to being as true to myself as possible when it comes to the style of anything I create or share, which I hope conveys a certain level of authenticity that can be helpful when it comes to personal branding. I really enjoy photography as well, and although I am definitely an amateur, I try to communicate a certain theme to the content I post using imagery. I do this in hopes to add a little artistic touch to everything I do, and I think it helps establish a theme and give a sense of continuity to a mixture of content. I’ve also been told I can on occasion be kind of funny, which is something I don’t regularly attempt to showcase through my writing or online content, but probably should since humour is such an effective way to establish a personal brand, especially when your content is geared towards millennials.
Innocent Drinks is a UK based company who are well known for their highly effective and engaging social media presence. In fact, in 2015, they achieved a 35% engagement rate with their twitter posts. So how did they do it?
Their twitter account is definitely the platform they’re most active on. They regularly tweet clever little jokes and photos that are mostly unrelated to their actual products but generate a high level of response. This ranges from tweets about “The Great Britain Bake Off” which is very popular in the UK right now, to pictures of cute dogs, which are of course, virtually foolproof.
Their head of Digital and Communities Joe McEwen explained this strategy in an interview with Audiense.com; “It’s not a separate strategy, in my eyes, as we can use reactive content to drive awareness of our products. The challenge is always to find interesting, creative ways to talk about our products. The more interesting our product posts are, the more people will engage with them and the further they will travel.”
They also take advantage of their followers’ social media posts, by retweeting posts that are sent to them that cast their brand in a positive light, usually making sure to include a cheeky response. This not only takes advantage of the good publicity but also encourages more engagement from their followers, by giving them a higher chance of recognition from an account with over 280K followers.
In my opinion, Innocent Drinks is doing social media right. They engage with their customers in a personal, and meaningful way and have effectively established their brand as a result.
One “hobby” of mine that I can go on for hours about is my animals. I’ve been obsessed with animals since I could form thoughts, and yet it’s been difficult to find people who share my same passion. Tons of people can talk about how much they love their cats and dogs, sure, but when it comes to discussing what type of soil has been working the best for my crested gecko tank, and the struggle I’ve been having with the nitrate levels in my aquarium I start to lose most people. Creating a blog or similar outlet to discuss these topics and connect with other animal lovers would be a lot of fun, not to mention sharing advice would be really helpful.
In 2013 it was found that only 9% of Canadians own fish, small mammals and herptiles, and these types of pets are mostly owned by people between the ages of 18-24, while 45-54 year olds are second most likely to own animals within the “other” category, and most likely to own cats and dogs.
Based on this information, as well as my age, my audience would most likely be between 18-24, or possibly younger seeing as 12% of 12-17 year olds also own small mammals, fish and herptiles. Because of this, I think the most effective platforms to use would be Instagram and Youtube as people are often interested in visuals when it comes to animals, and these are the two leading visual platforms so I’d be sharing adorable photos like this one, while also talking about caring for my animals, or any related information or stories I have that may be interesting.
We all love a good story, but have you ever considered why? And what makes some storytellers so successful while others work so hard just to go unnoticed?
Sharing our story and immersing ourselves in those of others is instinctually at the heart of human interaction and bonding. When being told a story, parts of our brain are activated as if we’re experiencing the events ourselves. The ability to visualize and imagine ourselves fully immersed in an experience through a simple sequence of words is incredibly powerful. This desire to have experiences outside of our own reality creates an intense attraction between people and stories. Just as we wish to experience the lives of others through storytelling, we also crave to relate to others and to feel understood, which creates an innate desire to share our own stories with others.
This closeness we experience from the mutual sharing of stories, is enhanced further when the story is told effectively. Those with a natural affinity for storytelling have been praised throughout history. Aboriginal storytellers were some of the first performance artists, and today we idolize authors, actors, musicians etc. for all the same reasons. They possess the ability to effectively tell a story in a way that allows the audience to connect with their emotions, and immerse themselves in the experience.
Now that anyone can share their story with millions of people with the click of a mouse, a whole new era of storytelling has begun. While inspiration for stories has varied greatly over time, the way popular storytellers structure their stories and the techniques they use to peak the interest of readers and listeners have remained much the same. In order to understand what exactly makes a good story, we’ve developed basic formulas that these successful storytellers tend to follow such as Freytag’s Pyramid, The Fichtean Curve, The Inverted Pyramid and so on. We’ve also discovered that people are attracted to authenticity, and developed ways to find one’s unique voice and style such as free-writing and structured self reflection. For those of us who desire to build a career through storytelling, or use the internet to inspire or be a part of a community, the ability to grasp and apply these methods and techniques is what will allow us to stand out amongst a sea of online voices.
My birthday falls at the end of April, so this year my Mom and Sister decided it would be fun to book a celebratory road trip with my family to a secluded little cottage in the woods where we could all bond and be as weird and loud as our hearts desired. Booking the trip in mid-May seemed like our best bet if we were hoping for some nice weather. My sister picked out this really nice waterfront cottage on Airbnb, we were approved by the host for the weekend we had decided on, and everything seemed to be going swimmingly.
In the weeks leading up to our highly anticipated cottage retreat, The Weather Network’s predictions became more and more ominous. Eventually we had to come to terms with the fact that it was more than likely going to be chilly and raining the entire weekend. We were all justifiably a little bummed out by this realization, but the idea of the trip was to spend time with family, and what better way to force quality bonding time than to be stuck in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, with no wifi or cell reception, for a whole weekend together?
We ended up having an amazing time which included a very entertaining drive up where my directionally challenged Mother (I’m allowed to say that because I inherited the trait from her) got lost about five times, and my Stepdad made hilariously cringey dad jokes about almost every road sign we passed. Upon arrival we actually ended up getting a few hours of sun, which we took advantage of by taking the kayaks out on the lake. My Sister and I found a little island that we were curious about, but opted not to explore, after discovering a really creepy shed and “danger, risk of electrocution” sign.
It ended up being as rainy and cold as we’d expected for the rest of the trip, so we mostly played board games and cards, and my parents found an old gaming system that had the original asteroids game, so they proceeded to battle over the high score for a good part of the weekend. While we were driving around one day we stopped at this eclectic little antique shop, with a sign up that said “open whenever I feel like coming in” which made me a little envious of the people that live out there, but also gave us all a good laugh.
This rainy cottage getaway turned out to be really special, and not having to worry about planning outings and activities was actually a huge relief. I got to spend lots of quality time with my family whom I love very much, so I’m really grateful that everything turned out the way it did.
What would you do for fun if you were rained in all weekend? With my luck I could definitely see this happening to me again and could use some suggestions for future rainy day activities.