Define Your Storytelling Audience.
Online storytelling requires an audience. Without it you’re feeding false hopes. Wasting time. Action for the sake of action on par with planting pumpkin seeds in California’s Death Valley and wondering why no results.
Not just any audience. But YOUR audience. Your target. Your ilk. Your online commonwealth. The people who share your vision.
Think Like a Mag-Lite
Campers used to be plagued with king-rotten flashlights. Big, heavy tubes powered by D-sized batteries. Instead of beams they cast diffused light, trying to illuminate everything, yet, oddly, nothing. Consequently, these bulky relics had the light range of aerosol spray. Moths weren’t even interested.
But then in 1979 a company called Mag Instrument created a Mag-Lite. It was revolutionary. It understood that the tighter the beam the more powerful the light. It was like owning your own north star. A Mag-Lite allowed campers to pinpoint exact objects, even confused mule deer 600 feet away, providing them with clarity of vision and confidence of direction.
When it comes to determining your audience think like a Mag-Lite. Don’t focus on all. Focus on one. The more defined the clearer your vision. And the clearer the vision the tighter your word-beam, improving chances of hitting your target audience.
For an example on how to think like a Mag-Lite consider a website on saving cutthroat trout. People not interested in defining their audience would blindly begin crafting content aimed at fishermen in general, never taking into account that cutthroats are fished by fly fishermen.
Brought to their attention they may counter with fishermen are all the same.
Fly fisherman wear rubber pants and vests. They stand in pristine streams and rivers. They observe insect hatches. They tempt trout with fake flies. They’re hyper-sensitive to being disturbed. They tie their own flies. They write elegant books about fly fishing. And they often refer to fly fishing as Zen-like.
Fishermen wear what they cut the lawn with. They stand along the shores of lakes, ponds, and creeks, regardless of how public or noisy. Some fish from boats. They impale worms on hooks. They use bobbers and spinners and spoons. They have fishing shows, usually hosted by guys who whisper in southern accents. And they often refer to fishing as something to do.
Think of how different your website’s story would be if you were telling it to fishermen or to fly fishermen? It would alter the tone, the demeanor, the language. Attempting to appeal to both would water down your authority, attracting about as much interest as a cutthroat trout would give to a Cheez Doodle on a hook.
Audience Empowers Storytelling Decisions
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being involved in a holiday gift exchange you know the angst of drawing the name of someone unknown: Larry in accounting? The guy who sits alone at lunch reading Nicholas Sparks novels? I know nothing about him. I have zero idea on what to buy for him.
Compare this with buying a gift for someone close. You know their interests. Your know their tastes. You know what appeals to them. It eases the process of gift buying, eliminating guessing and randomness.
The same thinking applies to storytelling. With a general audience you’re guessing what to say. Guessing dilutes sincerity, weakens authority, and risks pandering.
There’s no guessing with a known audience. With a core group in mind storytelling becomes more effective. It allows you to address key essentials in online storytelling:
- Speak the Language – This lends you authenticity. Gives you personality. Scrubs away suspicions. Confirms to your core group that you’re one of them.
- Address Concerns – Knowing their exact concern is knowing their motivation. Knowing what’s going to spur them to take action and follow your lead.
- Address Needs – This cements authority. Instills charisma in your voice. Gives your website traction.
- Be Yourself – This allows you to differentiate. Cast your personality. To dare. To chance. To evoke emotion – the essence of storytelling.
We’re always up for a good advice. Share your knowledge on how best to narrow your audience. The person with the best tip receives a free oven mitt.