Slow Stories: Using Slow Content to Build Important Communities and Conversations


When I first launched Slow Stories last October, the reason was two-fold: to further refine my agency CONNECT(ED)ITORIAL's point of view as a service provider, and more importantly, to create space for the conversation around slow content to not only be present but to be put into practice too. The response from our first season motivated me to build upon the themes in our original episodes and extend the Slow Stories initiative into a namesake column here on Create & Cultivate.

Since then, the last six months have been an eye-opening experience in learning about how modern professionals from all walks of life have responded to the idea of slow content's role in our marketing and storytelling efforts. And as I close out another season of the podcast (and practice what I preach by slowing down and taking a break from the column for the summer), I want to kick off this seasonal send-off with a few highlights from some of our more recent episodes:

1. Slow content inspires presence and encourages self-care.

The consensus throughout the entire show indicated that by honing in on the content that resonates with us most, we are left with more time to be fully aware and present in the spaces that inspire us to create this content in the first place. And when it comes to slow content itself, many of my guests also spoke about the content they gravitate to the most advocates for self-care, digital detoxing, and community-building. 

2. Slow content is of heirloom quality.

Tactically speaking, when deep diving into the logistics of content ideation and production, slow content prioritizes quality, originality, and humanity beyond the standards of fast, and often fleeting, content. With that in mind, many of our guests also referred to slow content in relation to terms like "heirloom" reinforcing a thoughtful piece of content's preciousness and ability to outlast a single content platform or trend. 

3. Slow content can create impact and facilitate essential conversations.

Finally, the above two ideas culminated in another vital theme that our interviewees continually touched on: From modern healthcare to design, the different brand-builders I spoke with this season alluded that the best content is something that is created in collaboration with not only their teams but with their customers or members of their brand's community. By slowing down and opening the door to a sense of partnership with different stakeholders, slow and thoughtful content has the opportunity to shape communities and ignite vital business, social, and political discussions.

The latter point is something that I've realized to be the heart of what this movement is all about. Earlier in the season, one of our podcast interviewees reflected on an instance where they read "content" (as in "happy") as content in the context of marketing. That strikes a chord. With social and digital's increasingly powerful influence on the way we perceive things, the slow content movement is forcing our hand to collectively create more content that can be a source of happiness, value, and community. So, if you're wondering how to build community (either on the customer or collaborator side) here are a few of my tips for utilizing slow content to take the first step.

1. Work with collaborators to create and cultivate powerful stories—and relationships.

As storytellers, we know the most memorable content derives from our ability to marry our unique perspectives, skill sets, and talents. I touched on this in my most recent article, but the power of coming together over a common goal to create something that genuinely resonates can't be understated. Use slow content as a starting point to create something lasting, as well as a foundation to work with like-minded collaborators to continue keeping that story, and conversation, going.

2. Spend time on developing systems for content that inspires consumers both visually and conversationally.

Whether you're a content creator or brand founder, the current digital climate has proven time and time again that content must provide holistic value for modern consumers. The best way to capture the attention of and maintain a relationship with your community is to take the time to create content that checks the box in visual inspiration and transparent communication. This is where tools like brand books and content calendars come in handy when developing a long-term strategy to sustain both of these elements—rediscover more tips from my industry Interview with Brandy Pham.

3. Use your platform to start a conversation—and take it offline.

Many of the world's most respected influencers and brands have mastered the delicate balance in having quality content translate into quality experiences. I've often said that I look at slow content as a gateway to capturing someone's attention via compelling content and building on this in ways that provide value for people in more intimate settings. While online storytelling is the best way to build a global community, taking this one step further in an IRL venue (whether it's a dinner party, meeting or panel) is the best way to nurture relationships in our fast-paced landscape. 

If I've personally learned anything from building Slow Stories so far, it is that slow content transcends industries and professions. It is a universal framework that many of us are craving in our content and marketing endeavors—and that alone is something that fosters conversation and community no matter what our individual stories are. I hope this article provides insight into how to utilize slow content as a vehicle for community-building in your work. And in the spirit of slowing down, I invite you to revisit the articles in this column and enjoy all episodes of seasons one and two of Slow Stories on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Have a great summer.

About the Author:

Rachel Schwartzmann

Rachel Schwartzmann is the Founder and CEO of The Style Line LLC. She created The Style Line in late January 2011 via Tumblr and has fostered The Style Line’s brand in its growth since then. Rachel has been featured in esteemed sources including Forbes, Refinery29, and MyDomaine and has also spoken at Create & Cultivate and Columbia University on establishing a unique brand point of view and entrepreneurship. On October 1, 2015, Rachel took The Style Line in a new direction as a boutique content company with the introduction of its slow content agency CONNECT(ED)ITORIAL.

Links + Handles:

The Style Line: @thestyleline Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

CONNECT(ED)ITORIAL: @connecteditorial

Rachel Schwartzmann: @rachelschwartzmann and @RMSchwartzmann