Last week I talked to students at Bath Spa University about how to develop stories. I was keen to model some of the behaviours I feel are key to help stories develop (asking questions, using tech to crowdsource – here is the Google doc I used prior to the workshop – and using Twitter to develop conversation around the stories).
For the first half of the session I shared some slides (see below) and for part two we sat outside and discussed the students’ stories and how they would like to develop them. There were some great ideas and I hope they pursue them.
I also said I would share some tools that I mentioned. At this point I would like to add a caveat. These tools are the ones I like using. I would encourage you to search out tools, ask who is using certain tools and what for and try them out. The trying them out part of this is the most important part of getting started. This will take a bit of time but it will be worth it.
Whilst sharing my thoughts on developing a story I thought it would probably make sense to look at tools for the various stages I outlined in my talk, which were:
- Identifying your readers
- Following your readers
- Creating, narrating, atomizing content
- Creating conversation around your stories
Identifying your readers
Who do you know in the reader community you are writing for? Do they have a social profile and can you connect with them, say on Twitter. Where do they hang out online – think Linkedin Groups, Twitter chats, professional institutes. If you are unsure, then ask the question. Google is usually a good place to start – Google Plus too. Think laterally – so look at Slideshare, Scribd, Youtube – anywhere where people are sharing. Also look at who attends events – look for events on Meetup, Eventbrite and Lanyrd, for example. Also think networks such as Spotify – it is not just about words!
- Followerwonk for finding people on Twitter – good for searching topics in bios.
- Talentbin for searching social bios of people – I use the free app.
Following your readers
This is so important for understanding what people are thinking about and for helping to build relationships and joining in the conversation.
- RSS reader. I was using Google Reader but that is shutting down, so am searching for a replacement. These allow you to subscribe to a feed from a site or blog and view in one place so you can hundreds or thousands of feeds in one place. Good list of RSS readers here.
- Google alerts: Set up alerts based on keywords and Google will deliver updates to your email.
- Twitter lists: A great way of organizing people into relevant groups so that you can keep an eye on the conversation.
- Managing your networks: I use Hootsuite and Tweetdeck to provide a somple view of various networks. These are really important tools.
Creating, narrating, atomising content
Be as transparent as you can be so that people can join in the conversation around what you are doing. Build up ideas and ask for comments as you go.
- A blog is a great place to start thinking and forming ideas. You can tweet from there and use the comments on the blog to develop your story. A blog gives you lots of options on formats too ie you do not have to go from a story idea to 1,000 words. Tumblr is a big and growing blog community so a potentially useful place for sharing and developing conversation around what you blog.
- Google docs: A great tool for crowdsourcing ideas
- Storify: Good for curating tweets, images, videos and sharing. Also great for atomizing your story – putting into snippets.
- Slideshare: Think about sharing your ideas in a different format – youcan add audio too.
- Audioboo: Great audio app that lets you capture audio with your phone – again great for atomizing longer stories.
- Quora: A great place to ask questions (obviously) but go and look around and answer others too so you are giving.
- Pinterest: Don’t forget visual and use Pinterest to create more visual ways into your work
- Instagram: Narrate your ideas visually eg people you interview and share. You can have great conversations on Instagram
- Vine: Can you build stories in six seconds? Have a go . . . it’s fun and easy to share.
- Don’t discount survey tools either – I use SurveyMonkey.
Creating conversation around your stories
Use networks to share what you are doing and ask questions. Do this where your readers hangout – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube. Use hashtags in Twitter to provide a ‘place’ for the conversation.
Also consider events – you have created content so why not use it for the basis of an event. This could be a webinar or face to face.
Webinars: I use Citrix but there are a range of options
Face to face: Use Eventbrite to organize your event
Google + : Great for sharing and the hangouts are great for getting together and streaming/recording and broadcasting the conversation.
These are just some ideas. You need to build your own toolkit and work out what works for you and for your readers. I’d recommend narrating as you go as I did in my Google doc – you’ll get great ideas and the conversation will take you in new directions.
Here’s the deck too: