Recently, Michael Margolis of The Reinvention Summit and Get Storied joined members of TheCR Network to discuss the art of storytelling. As described on his website, “Storytelling is the most important skill you didn’t learn in school. But it’s the foundation for everything.” For businesses, this is your ability to convey your brand in a compelling way that communicates and engages. It’s about telling a story your community cares about, thereby building meaningful connections that inspire action.
Your brand is only as strong as the stories people are telling about you. You need to help shape them. The challenge for community managers is to enable community members to see themselves in your organization’s shared stories. Assist people in understanding their role in your brand. Describe your world. Make it tangible, real and relevant.
Michael described his five-step storytelling framework, which he calls “MASTR”: Motivation, Audience, Stakes, Trust and Relationship. Storytellers often neglect these elements, but they are key to creating stories that support and engage your community.
For me, one of the many great themes that surfaced in this discussion was the power of storytelling to communicate why. As inspirational speaker Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. In his TED talk “How great leaders inspire action,” Simon describes how successful businesses—like Apple (of course!)—are able to tell a story that defines their culture and inspires people to act. This is a charge for community managers. How do we tell our stories in a way that inspires action?
Michael himself discussed his affinity for the Apple brand. He has continued to use Apple computers, despite hardware problems he’s had in the past, because he’s loyal to them. He believes in the Apple experience. That, Michael described, is the power of the brand.
In addition, Michael says helping people understand your story is critical. It’s not enough for them to hear your story—everyone has a story. Instead, people need to connect with your story in a meaningful way. They need to believe in why you do what you do. That’s the turning point between a community outlier and an active community member.
As Michael described, your story must break the barrier of expectation, be extraordinary, and elicit an emotional response. He shared a personal story about unexpectedly receiving a flower arrangement with a note from a “not-so-secret” admirer. This certainly caught his attention, but when he visited the website listed on the card and discovered it was an email marketing provider, the compelling storyline broke.
It’s not enough to attract attention if what you offer isn’t relevant. To be effective, your story needs to communicate why you are relevant and why your audience should care. Rather than telling people what you do, you need to convey why you do it.
How do you tell your story? How have you used storytelling to convey your brand and build meaningful connections?
Rick Allen is a member of TheCR Network and as such gets access to strategic, tactical, and professional development programming and events as well as an online community for discussions and to make lasting connections with fellow community, social media, and social business practitioners. TheCR Network is the place to learn from industry leaders and practitioners.