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Using Stories in Blogging

Posted By Darren Rowse 29th of August 2006 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Story-1Last week I spoke on the topic of Business Blogging at a Melbourne gathering of the Australian Interactive Media Association with Cameron and Ben.

I enjoyed the presentation times but particularly enjoyed a number of the interactions I had afterwards over drinks.

Three of those that I chatted to for a while were Gabrielle, Yamini and Lyn from a company called One Thousand and One. They grabbed my attention within seconds of telling me what they do as a business – they are into ‘Organisational Storytelling’.

To be honest I’d not heard of Organisational Storytelling previously but even on hearing the phrase for the first time I knew that it was something that could be quite powerful and something that I could immediately see connecting points with blogging.

As a small part of my presentation on Business Blogging I had mentioned that some of the more effective business blogs that I’d come across integrated ‘story’ into their content.

Stories engage people in a completely different way to any other form of communication that I’ve come across and on blogs I find that they can be particularly powerful.

Rather than blogs degenerating into ‘spin’ machines I encouraged people to think about injecting personality into them by sharing stories on a number of levels:


  • Company or Business Story – every company has their own story. How it started, it’s evolution, it’s successes and failures, it’s lessons learnt and how it’s interacted within it’s industry.
  • Product Stories – in a similar way, each product or service within a company has a story. How the idea was born, what needs it was designed to meet, what versions and evolutions it’s been through and how customers are using it.
  • Employee Stories – a business is only ever as good as it’s employees and every one of them has their own story. These stories are important as they illustrate what the employees bring to the job that they do (experiences, passions, skills etc) but they also empower the employee and give a personal face to a company.
  • Customer Stories – telling the stories of customers (with permission of course) can be a very powerful thing both internally and externally for a business. The interactions a company and customer have are great for learning and education of staff, they help to illustrate the values of a company and if done well can be incredibly empowering for a customer.

My point in the presentation I gave was that blogs were wonderful places to tell stories. I briefly illustrated the point by mentioning the AdSense blog – Inside AdSense.

I’ve long admired the group behind this blog because whilst they are just one department in a massive company they have developed a blog that is quite personal. They do this in numerous ways but one of them is by telling stories and by personalizing posts by adding photos of employees, using humor and putting faces to the company.

Story-1-2AdSense also has used the stories of their clients (publishers) quite effectively at time. Handing things over to actual publisher to share their story and give their own tips is something that I’m sure those publishers who are featured are proud of but that readers also find valuable (there’s nothing like a real life example to inspire you).

They don’t do this in every post (most of their posts are quite informational in nature) but they do it enough to break down some of the corporate and ‘spin’ feel that such a blog could operate with.

Stories can be used in many ways on a blog both in business blogging and in other varieties of blogs.

I know here at ProBlogger that it’s my posts with stories that people seem to respond to the most. For example my day in the life of a ProBlogger post has always been popular and even my About Pages have elements of story in them (see more on them here).

For more examples of story posts here at Problogger also check out:

In each case I’ve had a lot of email and comments from readers – the stories engaged them on a level that they wouldn’t have gotten to with purely informational type posts.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Hi Darren!

    I know that I always love the days you say, “Tangent ahead” because then it’s going to be a ‘really-good’ post. And I think of your tangents as stories that let me get a better glimpse into the sort of person you are and where you are coming from.

    Which to me makes you more accessible and trustworthy. I know, it could all be an act. But you’re so consistent in your public personality as displayed by the stories and tangents that I trust you in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise.

    I go to lots of impersonal blogging sites also, but I tend to leap over there opinions and go directly to the source of their post references. While the sources these sites link to are excellent, their opinions don’t have much value to me. I don’t know who they are or anything about them as people.

    Which is to say, I think you’re right. Stories add value to a blog — for many reasons.

  2. Umm…were we not supposed to tell stories in our blogs?
    If I wanted to hear strictly facts, I’d go to a website.
    Blogs I read for the stories and the personalities.

  3. I figured that if I don’t tell a story or if I don’t link the topic with how it impact or is related to my life, the reader could have read it almost anywhere. With my story in it, it makes it unique.

  4. Kimber and brem — I agree with you. But lately I’ve found several sites that are impersonal links with a summary of the content & a little commentary to more primary information.

    And while it’s interesting, it does seem like what you could read almost anywhere. And since they keep themselves so removed from the interaction it makes me wonder why the authors (whose names I don’t even know) were drawn to blogging. It’s weird, they all have a spot for comments but no one comments. Why would readers share their stories if the author of the post doesn’t?

  5. Hey Darren, you know I’m a fan of stories, especially yours.

    There’s actually a book out there called Organisational Storytelling, available at Amazon, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it.

    Has anyone else had the chance who can tell us how it is?

  6. I reckon if you didn’t tell a story and yet still want to impart information, you wouldn’t be a blog, you’d be an encyclopedia/any-other-reference material. And that’s boring. I can go to the library for that.

    So, right on again Darren

  7. Hi, Darren. I don’t know if I’ve commented here before, but I read your site everyday. Your content is both informative and inspirational.

    I run a personal finance weblog, and the content is often dry, even for me. I find that telling stories helps liven things up. I’ve told stories on my personal weblog for years, and people have seemed to enjoy them. So lately I’ve been telling stories at my personal finance site, too, and the response has been great. People really seem to get the points that I’m trying to convey, and much better than if I’d simply posted a list of bullet points.

    One thing I do try to do, even when telling a story, is to use bold-face type to indicate what might otherwise have been my bullet points. This helps the people who are skimming the story because they don’t have time to read it. I also try to edit my story ruthlessly. (Well, I edit everything ruthlessly, but stories even moreso.) People don’t want to sit through flowery prose.

    Good post!

  8. Hi Darren,

    Your site is phenomenal. And I have to chime in and say storytelling is so key to making a blog interesting and ultimately successful. I always try to think that I’m sitting next to one person on an airplane and relating to them a story for that day.

    I did a post about an amazing woman named Susan Butcher, and received more comments on that blog entry than any other and was simply telling her story.

    Keep inspiring us all!

    Nettie H.

  9. Hi Darren,

    Thanks for the post. The concept of Organisational Storytelling is really gaining momentum which is great for us. Brian asked about an Organisational Storytelling book and there are a few good ones about. Steven Denning is the guru of Organisational Storytelling and he has a few books out. I would recommend The Leaders Guide to Organisational Storytelling if you really want to increase your leadership capability in this area. It is basically a resource book that takes you through in detail the eight different types of organisational storytelling.

    He has another book which is an easier read and this is called Squirrel Inc. It is basically written in parable style about and organisation of squirrels.

    Annette Simmons also has a book titled the Story Factor which is also a really good read.

    All these books are for the use of story in a business setting. Organisational Storytelling is simple storytelling with a business purpose. And depending on your business purpose will determine the type of Organisational Story you tell.

    It is really gaining momentum in the corporate world because it is finally being seen as a brilliant way to engage people instead of using fact and figures presented in PowerPoint presentations.

    But I am preaching to the converted. You bloggers understand teh power of story way ahead of the corporate senior executives.


  10. I am a great believer on storytelling, too. Great post.

  11. Hi Darren, I agree with your observation that it is the posts with stories in them that get the most attention from readers. Case in point: last week I wrote a post called Courier Drives on Sidewalk mainly to vent my frustration about …well, the courier truck that backed up onto and dislodged my newly laid paving stone sidewalk. Now keep in mind that my blog is called OfficeStuffer and is supposed to focus on office products, equipment, furniture and the like. I was worried that perhaps that post was too far off-topic, but interestingly enough, I’ve had more trackbacks to that post than any other one. Proves your point about posts with stories in them.

  12. Yes organised story telling is definately the way of the future, even though it has been around for so many years, we are only just discovering its real power. I have received great feedback from staff members in using this method when training, I can only imagine how well onethousandone are able to convey a message. Sarbane Oxley is one I will never forget…..

  13. I like doing technology evangelism, and that’s all about stories. It’s not enough to put a piece of software or a system in front of someone. I humanize technology by telling people stories about what other people are doing with it and how they can use it to improve their work or enjoy life more. =) Stories are so powerful! I love collecting stories, and I’m learning about how to tell those stories by developing my public speaking and writing skills.

    One of the best books I’ve read on the topic is The Story Factor, by Annette Simmons. It’s also available on Books24x7.

  14. […] Agosto 29th 2006 Organizational Storytelling posted @ 13:33 in [ General ] Siempre se ha hablado de la importancia de las historias en lacomunicación de todo tipo y, por supuesto, en la corporativa también… Por eso me ha gustado el planteamiento que hace Darren a partir de su particular descubrimiento de esta actividad del “cuentacuentos coporativo” y las posibilidades del blog para mejorarla y desarrollarla de forma más eficaz, dentro de una estrategia de comunicación. Creo que puede ser una aproximación muy interesante a los blogs en la empresa. […]

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