From cave paintings to long-form journalism and 140 character tweets, humans have the insatiable thirst for stories and compelling content. Our love of stories and content can never be cured, not even by the internet. In fact, the rise of the internet's ubiquity in everyday life created a need for content by not only consumers, but brands as well.

As times have changed, a brand's approach to connecting with their customers must follow suit. That connection used to be through ads, but according to Business Insider, people are more likely to survive a plane crash then click on a banner ad.

Brands have turned to content to tell stories with content marketing. With access to broad distribution channels, it's easier than ever before to consume, create and distribute content. But where should a brand start?

Delving into content marketing and brand storytelling can be daunting, especially if you are just beginning. Here are four tips for brands becoming publishers to get started.

1. Tell a Story, Set Goals
What stories do you want to tell? Stories that represent your brand values--ones that are entertaining, inspiring and thoughtful. Ones that can illicit an emotional response or a call to action or whatever else the story needs to accomplish to align with your goals.

Setting the right goals for your content marketing campaign is crucial to your storytelling and execution. Write down goals and deadlines for your company, spanning for years. Before you even have a creative idea, it's important to reiterate why you are deciding to create content. If you have firm, yet flexible, goals in mind, it will be that much easier to accomplish.

2. Scale Your Storytelling
Budgeting is directly related to how much you can spend and the scope of your goals. If you are a multinational corporation, you may be able to spend millions of dollars on a multimedia, celebrity-sponsored campaign. If you are a smaller brand, you may just want to spend a substantially smaller amount, focusing exclusively on written content.

It's important to know that you can scale your storytelling and have it be just as effective. Just because you don't have the budget of American Express doesn't mean you can't have a successful content marketing program in place. Tell stories in a way that makes sense for your brand, and don't get bogged down on cost.

3. Hire a Professional
The success of the your content marketing campaign is contingent on a great strategy. You set the brand values, goals, the budget--now it's time for someone else to handle the strategy and execution. A fresh perspective--and one with experience and industry insight--can prove absolutely necessary to tell a story.

When picking an agency, it's best to go to one with a particular niche or specialty (and preferably one that will scale). An agency that excels in storytelling in the medium of your choice is better than simply going off of prestige. For organizations pursuing excellent content at scale, companies like Quietly are positioning themselves as content strategists by using customizable software to tailor content for engagements.

4. Social Distribution & Building an Audience
In order to survive (and thrive), content needs to perform well on social media, otherwise it will die in cyberspace. Creating a strong social strategy is paramount to building a relationship with your customers. If you're uncomfortable with social media and you have the dough to spend, consider contracting additional work from an agency to implement a social strategy for distribution. But if your company has some social media savvy, create the strategy yourselves

Not all social strategies are created equal. What's right for Red Bull is not necessarily right for you. Start with a social strategy optimizing one or two channels. Not every channel is appropriate for every brand, but start with Facebook (a major driver of traffic). Spread out posting the content you commissioned by filling in curated content. The content you curate should align with the goals and content you've created. The key to a social strategy is staying relevant--post frequently--and patient--executing a social strategy takes plenty of time and energy.

Brands Love Stories, We Love Stories
Brands love us (and our wallets). Content marketing is the solution to make people love your brand. It's vital that brands embrace content marketing in order to connect with their digital consumers. If a brand can tell a compelling story that can enrich and entertain us, then that brand has earned goodwill, which can pay in all kinds of dividends. Start today and tell a story tomorrow.

Published on: Apr 2, 2015