Greetings Friday Fixers!  It’s the first Friday of the last month of the year (now say that five times fast).  Really, it’s hard to believe that 2016 is upon us, which is why this week we take a little time between exploring creative storytelling strategies and digital storytelling to discuss what’s going to change in content marketing for 2016 as well as why it’s so important to have a plan.  Other hot topics are why many are going DIY podcast and the looming giant that is virtual reality, so get comfy and get ready to get your Friday Fix on!

Holiday Digital Storytelling: 3 Unexpected Retail Trends in 2015

So, the question I think that’s raised by this article by Taylor Mallory Holland is are you approaching storytelling this holiday season as creatively as possible?  Holland starts her piece talking about a successful yet quintessential holiday storytelling approach: the tearjerker.  The description of the “Man on the Moon” story Holland uses as example is enough to make me want to bawl (no way I’m watching that thing and ruining my mascara); however, though a great story, Holland advises thinking “outside of the tissue box” this holiday season.  Go unweepy; go digital-only; go user-generated content…go read the article and see how these things are being pulled off with much success.

Part 1 – How to Be a Good Storyteller: What Brands Can Learn from Songwriters

For some reason, the title of Jon Simmons’ article made me think of the opening line of John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane”.  “A little ditty about Jack and Diane….” I shared that because I want you to take the journey with me, and Mellencamp’s song about Jack and Diane is a story.  Anyway, whether it’s those two crazy kids or lyrics that tell another story, there’s much content storytellers can learn from the nuanced art of song writing.  Jon’s article shares tips from songwriters about the importance of setting the scene and conflict, of truth telling, of finding deeper meaning, and more.  No matter what tunes you prefer, this article harmonizes with all storyteller’s goals.

Can You Tell a Good Story?

“Can you tell a good story?”  It’s the question posed round the world, seriously.  In this article written by Inti Tam and published in Hong Kong, Tam advises to transform a true story (chock full of value and impressiveness) into stellar content.  Other nuggets of wisdom in this exploration of good storytelling is that visual mediums are of increasing value (as we’ve discussed previously) but Tam adds that audiences’ waning attention spans means that it’s essential to go straight for the gold; “give them the best in the first few seconds,” Rupam Borthakur, a managing director who is quoted in Tam’s article, advises.  Check out this piece to see what other great advice on good storytelling Tam brings from the other side of the world.

Storytelling in Business: Lessons for Brands of All Sizes

Though we’ve never overtly said it, the message of John Montesi’s article has seasoned the flavor of much of the storytelling guidance we promote, which is that many lessons related to storytelling are applicable regardless of the breadth of your enterprise.  In this piece, John looks at what the big guys have that the little guy’s envy and what the little guys have that the big guys want (as in, no matter what your size is, you have key advantages but you can always learn from the other players in the field).  Thus, John goes into detail on smart storytelling approaches like thinking like a startup.

6 Ways Content Marketing Will Change in 2016

We’ve jammed on trends and forecasts for 2016, but Yaniv Makover brings something new to the table with this article: an exploration of what will change in content marketing for 2016 (which, holy smokes, is 27 days away).  So, what will change?  I’ll share a few morsels, but you’ll need to read Makover’s article for the whole enchilada.  First, mobile will usurp browsers; publishers will be cool with content being read offsite, and paid distribution won’t be publishers’ dirty little secret anymore (arguably the best kind of secrets).

How to Create an Effective Content Marketing Strategy for 2016

Just in case you skimmed the last bit on how content marketing will change in 2016, the year 2016 start in 27 days.  If you haven’t created your content marketing strategy for the new calendar year yet, worry not; Steve Olenski has some solid, detailed tips on how to get you ready for the new year.  Start by knowing your audience. Next, you’ll write out goals and ideas…lots and lots of ideas.  What next?  Read Steve’s article and find out.

Content that Clicks: Build Your Strategic Content Marketing Plan

Unless you’re Harry Potter and are about to go all rogue on hunting horcruxes, then you need a plan (and even before that moment, Harry had a plan).  Kristin Clarke’s article doesn’t deal with a plan for hunting horcruxes, but we like to think that strategizing content marketing is of equal importance (at least in the muggle world).  In this piece, Kristin explains what content marketing is, why success isn’t guaranteed, how to get the ball rolling, and how to address challenges.

Virtual Reality Gets Real

Previously we talked about the next big thing, virtual reality.  In this article, Patrick Hanlon looks at the number of companies investing heavily in the transformational technology and what benefits there are to be reaped.  This is a definite must-read for anyone who wants to be on the cutting edge of storytelling, content marketing, or technology.  If you’re still thinking VR is like that episode of Family Matters where Steve’s VR helmet catches Carl’s head on fire, it’s come a little further than that.  Now, it’s more like the early cell phone; remember how much we all wanted Zack Morris’ phone?  While VR isn’t necessarily adorable yet, it’s definitely the coolest kid on the block and it’s about to get real.

Latest in Content Marketing: Brands Make Their Own Podcasts

Last week, we talked about why brands are getting DIY with video; this week, courtesy of pundit Shareen Pathak, we’re looking at the lure of going DIY with podcasts (side bar, if you’re not using podcasts, you’re really missing out on a big audience as Shareen reveals 46 million Americans listen to podcasts per month).  Podcasts are something that folks are really comfortable with (so why not produce your own, right?).  Much of the rationale for making your own podcast resonates with why you’d make your own video, which include freeing up funds and having more control over your brand message / story.

On Mobile, Content Marketing is Alive and Well – SEO, Not So Much

So, if you’re head of the SEO department, the title of David Rodnitzky’s article probably made you cringe (or at least choke a little one your cinnamon-spice latte).  Despite the doom-and-gloom of the title, David says that all isn’t lost and that things like app store optimization (ASO) and social media sharing are / could be your new BFFs.  More important than that, David says, is to keep in mind that SEO and content marketing are evolutionary meaning what’s happening today will be replaced by something new “tomorrow”, a perpetual trend, so best to be flexible and open to evolving.

Creative Storytelling: 4 Ways to Get Creative with Your Brand Storytelling

A couple of days ago, I saw a commercial about gift giving. It started by talking about the different types of gifts people can give and receive; there were lots of clips including one of a little girl holding a broken toy and crying.  It ended with video of a family playing sports together and making memories.  It was a commercial for Dick’s Sporting Goods. I simultaneously wanted to cry, go play in the yard with people I loved, and not see that commercial again because of all of the feels. That commercial is a prime example of what we talk about this week in terms of creative ways to tell your brand story.  There was a beginning, middle, and end, use of visual media, and a point of view, all essential components of a creative, memorable, and moving brand story.

Amy Delcambre is a freelance content and travel writer from Mobile, Alabama with a Master's in Creative Writing. When she's not painting the page with nouns, verbs, and adverbs, she's slaying grammar beasts as a freelance editor and saving the world one sentence fragment at a time teaching university writing classes. In her free time, Amy enjoys cooking, traveling, and testing which plant species best survive prolonged neglect. 

Connect with Amy:  LinkedIn