Grow Your Impact Through Authentic Storytelling
Storytelling is nothing new. The age-old tradition of passing knowledge orally traces back to the pre-digital age. Now, brands are taking this practice and integrating it into their communications strategies. The narrative voice is far more influential, and it delivers a powerful message that resonates with consumers. Use authentic storytelling and you will open opportunities for a community to be heard.
Nowadays, organizations are shifting their efforts from building ads to telling stories. They understand that consumers are now more empowered to make their own purchasing decisions, and can control ads with the touch of a fingertip. Commercials can be skipped, and ads can be blocked. However, storytelling breathes life into brands' identities and creates a human connection between brands and consumers.
Keep It Real
Stories can be told in the form of written quotes, performance, video, art, audio, or any other forms of media. They should be accessible and ready for community members, volunteers, and donors to understand, as well as act upon.
For a brand to tell a story effectively, it must be authentic. The best way to avoid diluting the message or making the wrong assumption is to give communities and individuals a platform to explore their stories first. Speak to community members directly, and ask for their honest feedback and opinions.
When we project our assumptions onto others, we might be surprised at how far off we are in realizing what they truly need. After surveying a sample group of landowners, GlobalGiving, a global charitable crowdfunding community, found out that the purpose of sharing stories had little to do with providing financial assistance, and more so with enriching the lives of landowners by emphasizing security and respect.
Other organizations also echo this realization by working directly with individuals in developing their narratives through training and resources. For example, the Canadian organization Community Story Strategies works with individuals, nonprofits, museums, schools, and health centres to develop powerful messages using video, film, photography, radio, and art. By giving others the tools to share their stories, we allow individuals to take ownership of their own narratives.
A Dialogue for Change
Storytelling allows us to begin a dialogue and a call-to-action to start addressing social change. It sets into motion an ongoing relationship because a story doesn’t just end after one act.
Effective storytelling should include a background, a conflict, resolution, and a call-to-action. Audiences like hearing how they have helped a situation or achieve an important goal. Moreover, developing a relationship with affected communities, and keeping conversations open will make it easier for you to follow-up and provide updates. It also serves as a reminder to your organization that this isn’t a one-time encounter. The conversation to instigate social change begins, but it doesn’t end with one story.
From time to time, customers may also want to be part of the authentic storytelling journey. Client narratives are one of the most impactful ways to build customer loyalty. Let your customers' successes be the secret weapon to your organization's ability to effect change in a genuine way.
Does your purpose-driven organization or business have an authentic story to tell? We'd love to hear it! Connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.