We at Dusted love stories. From cinematic tales of woe or accomplishment to the thrill-ride, adrenaline-dripping story of when I nearly won at solitaire; we’re all about communication through story. When it comes to online content, there’s no better way to make a message enticing.

If you look into techniques and strategies for online content, storytelling is always on the tip of everyone’s tongue – and why not? Everyone loves stories; they engage, empathise and generally entertain while still communicating the necessary information.

Stories are not inherently engaging for audiences, however. They require structure to make sense of the message. For instance, what triggers the content? Everything has to start somewhere. This is the inciting incident – the event that sparks the beginning of the journey. In Hitchcock’s North by Northwest the inciting incident would be when Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for George Kaplan and kidnapped.

Next is the conflict – this is the life and blood of storytelling. No one would still be talking about Planes, Trains and Automobiles if Steve Martin and John Candy were best buds and their journey was hunky dory.

Once the conflict has been established, you’re ready to take it on. The struggle shows how the problem is being addressed, any obstacles that arise and how they’re tackled. While all sections to this structure are equally important, this is the area showing the protagonist’s strength and resolve.  In Ocean’s Eleven this is the team executing their robbery, powering through even when it seems things aren’t going their way.

Finally there is the resolution, where the story is concluded, even if it’s a failure. Just as long as there was a purpose, it still sends a message. The Shawshank Redemption’s resolution begins the moment we realise Andy Dufresne has escaped.

We don’t need to be restrictive with this structure – it can be applied to a single blog entry/video or an entire campaign. If a campaign is about getting school kids to eat healthier, there could be a single blog or video entry telling an engaging story about children’s eating habits in schools. Alternatively it could be part of a larger campaign, where the inciting incident is described in an infographic, the conflict is defined in a community concerns blog, the struggle portrayed in a video interview and resolution viewable from a live cam of the kids choosing their meals.

So go forth and engage through storytelling. Speaking of which, did I ever tell you about the time I nearly won at solitaire?