Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Stories & Finding The Heart in Social Media

I've been thinking about storytelling quite a bit lately. It seems to be the new buzz. The new positioning. The new way old companies are trying to sell what they do in a networked way.

And let's be clear. I love storytelling. I love the idea of storytelling. I love the role that storytelling plays in our culture. I believe that storytelling has an important role within the context of an overall strategy for digital marketing.

But I don't think storytelling can be the heart of a Social Media approach. Why? I found this quote from the Head of ZeusJones that I love...

The web isn’t just a communications medium, it is a medium for interacting with people. Storytelling is inherently one-way, in fact, the main use for stories in the history of humans has been to teach. Using the Web for teaching and one-way dissemination of information are a waste its talents
And he is right.

Storytelling Is Us Talking To You About Us In An Entertaining Way

It can't be any other way because that's why storytelling is:

- Stories are narratives
- Stories are used for education, preservation of culture, to instill moral values and to elicit and disseminate information and knowledge

There are times we need to tell a story. Long form video (with a great Social bent), content in the form of audio, text, photos all contribute to tell a great story. But it's still all about us. How do we become about something more? Something that maybe involves YOU?

From Stories To Memes To Movements

It's not enough to tell a story. Entertaining people online is TABLE STAKES. If you want to stay relevant you have to be more, take a stand, risk with your customers.

Igniting Movements

To create deeper meaning, we have to stop being about need states and start connecting to a deeper core.

Four Elements To Any Movement according to Paul McEnany who has been working on this framework for a while include:

- Connecting to something fundamental which lies at the core belief system of customers

- Take that insights and tie it back to your Brand. Connect to something deeper and make it meaningful through storytelling (see storytelling has a role)

- Find the shared ideal (what some call in injustice frame) that is a collection of ideas and symbols that illustrate the significance of the challenge and how you can collectively come together to alleviate it

- People don't follow or join Brands that don't matter. You need the credible, authentic knowledgeable leader who is believable, honest, creative and fallible

Tying those elements together are what are going to make something more than a story. More than just entertainment. But about something bigger and greater that is co-created between a brand and their customers. And that's what I think we should all be striving for.

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