It’s all about Content. It‘s all about Storytelling. These are the phrases you hear the most often when it comes to content and content strategy. However, the best content is nothing without context. What will the best and most beautiful story do if there is no background. Of course, that’s what storytelling is for, but the context should never be ignored.
The Story: My sister and her family
Let me give you an example: It’s the story of my sister and her husband.
“My sister and her husband have two wonderful children, a big house and live happily together with a dog and a cat.” Nice story, isn’t it? This one sentence has anything you need to know about the family status of my sister. Storytelling? Not really executed. The story is nothing special for many and worth nothing more than an eye roll for some. Context? There is none.
Imagine if you saw this phrase simply as a social media post with a pretty picture of the family in front of the house. What are the chances you’d want to know more? What’s the likelihood that you’ll just keep scrolling? The last is probably many times higher. Let’s bring some storytelling to this story and let the context play out.
The Storyline: My sister found her husband 16 years ago
“My sister met her current husband when she was 14 years old. He was only 16 years old at that time. At that time she had seen a lot of this so called ‘big love’ in movies and was convinced she would get this sometime later. She went through her youth with him, they saw each other graduate from school and university, got married, bought a house together and had two children. After 16 years they are still a happy couple.”
What about the story now? Would you still just keep scrolling? Wouldn’t this story cost you some thoughts? Of course, many would now claim that this storyline is completely different from the one above. Of course it is. In this one, there is much more information, much more private insights. The storytelling here was completely different. However, you also have to see the context. While many people can only roll their eyes at perfect family conditions like the one mentioned above, the fact that a couple that met in their youth is still together today is truly a so-called unicorn. The context of the story has changed, and that’s only because readers now have a completely different approach to the story.
Context: Know your target group
The context of any content can be perceived completely differently by different audiences on different days (and also times of day). This family story will certainly be received better and sweeter on Valentine’s Day than on any other day. On a day dedicated to love romances, more people will also respond to the story, and the target audience will accordingly be a larger one. Here’s the given context. On any other day, however, the writer is well advised to know the target audience. Of course, this also depends on what industry you are using the story for, but that is also part within the area context.
Professional Explanation why Content needs Context
One luminary in this field is Rahel Bailie, whom I had the pleasure of meeting during my studies. She taught us in the subject “Developing Content for a Complex Environment” in March 2021, that any content needs the right way in:
For any content, it is important to decide from where it will be sent, where it will be published, and by whom it will be read. Additionally, it is important where the content can be found (on-site or in browser search), what format is used (XML, HTML, mark-up), and how customers can consume it. In this process, it is important whether the published version also corresponds to the customer needs, written in the language that the target group understands and whether it is available online and / or offline. These considerations are then crowned by the context, which is most important to me personally, and says: In the right time of the customer journey. (Bailie, Rahel (2021). Developing Content for a Complex Environment. Content Strategy Program Content at FH Joanneum.)
The Customer Lifecycle deals with the cycle of procurement of a product/service etc. The first step of this cycle is to identify the need for something (Identify Need), followed by the search for solutions (Seek Solution). The third phase describes the selection of the available alternatives (determine value) and is followed by the purchase. This is followed by the evaluation of the purchase (evaluate) which also includes complaint and praise management. Finally, there is the phase of renewing or upgrading the product (renewal or upgrade). (Bailie, Rahel (2021). Developing Content for a Complex Environment. Content Strategy Program Content at FH Joanneum.)
The professional, theoretical view, based on statements by Rahel Bailie, has now shown that when playing out the content, or even beforehand, i.e. when creating the content, you should pay attention to where it will end up later and how the customers can consume it. The content will be better received only by considering these eight “right” ways. The last point of these “right” points leads me back to the topic of this blog article and links to the context. After all, if all the previous points are well thought out and reach the target audience on all levels, it won’t help if the context is the wrong one. A well elaborated content won’t benefit if it is played out at the wrong time.
So, the story of my sister’s happy family will fit and resonate better at times when great love is praised than on days when being single is celebrated. Knowing this, it is better to read my sister’s story (or this blog article) on February 14th than on November 11th (world singles day).