Creatively Unsettled has been all about stories. It has been about exploring various schools of thought to educate social good brands about the importance of storytelling. We create stories from unique, real life situations where real people are involved, packed with hope and learning for each of us. Stories have this innate power to make its viewers visualize the reality and connect themselves with the protagonist in it.
We have lived on stories, grown up with them. Our fundamental thought process has developed through stories right from our childhood and today stories have proved to be the most effective communication medium. Say, why are stories important?
To answer this question better, we have with us Storyteller and Story Coach Andrew Linderman.
- Thank you for joining me on this interview, Andrew. You have been creating stories and coaching the craft of storytelling for a while now. According to you, how important are stories, as a medium of communication for a social good brand?
Good question. The job of any social good brand is to connect the experience of a product or line of products to the larger mission of an organization. There are lots of ways to do this, but there’s ample evidence to indicate that stories (i.e. customer stories, brand origin stories, adversity stories, etc.) are the easiest way to capture and grow an audience. The better the story, the more likely it is to get shared. The more shares, the better the brand recognition. It’s that simple.
- What should be the proportion of creating stories as a content format among others like blogs, articles, and PR for a social good brand? In terms of frequency.
There’s no formula, but all content (blog posts, articles, etc.) should include at least some storytelling elements. People are storytelling animals (there’s even a book called “The Storytelling Animal”) – we love telling stories and sharing good stories with each other. By this logic, the more stories you share with your audience, the more likely your audience is to share your stories with their followers.
- I happened to read your latest piece – 3 Tips for Surprising Your Audience. Unlike commercial brands, social good brands are more about facts, cause, and hope. In what way, can stories about social good bring in the element of surprise for their readers?
The challenge for social good brands (as distinct from “commercial” brands) is to tell stories that get people excited about both the products and the mission of the organization. This type of storytelling requires a high level of sophistication and planning, so surprising your audience can be a little tricky.
For social good brands, the key to surprising your audience is to align the product with the mission in an unexpected way. And, a “social good” brand that does this particularly well is Ben & Jerry’s. Back in April, the founders (Ben and Jerry!) were arrested as part of the Democracy Awakening protest in Washington, DC. When the company wrote about the arrest on their blog, the writers mentioned the company’s history of introducing new flavors with clever names that align with the social cause they’re supporting (i.e. I Dough, I Dough to support gay marriage). The final story has lots of surprises: it undermines expectations (the founders get arrested), builds suspense (we see the protest unfold) and manages to inform readers about Ben and Jerry’s products (ice cream) in a subtle way. The result educates readers the company’s mission while also getting people excited about the products (ice cream!).
- How can one measure the ROI from storytelling?
The ROI from storytelling can be measured in terms of social media engagement (likes, retweets, shares, etc) for the brand, as well as overall interest in the cause in the form of donations and revenue.
- Any additional tips that you would like to share?
So many! I run a blog with tons of additional tips and tricks for telling great stories.
- Tell us more about Story Source.
The Story Source is a storytelling consulting company that helps businesses, non-profits, and creative professionals develop and share their stories more effectively. Over the last four years, we’ve helped hundreds of entrepreneurs, salespeople, designers, and artists uncover and share their stories in pitches, TED talks, videos and written content all over the web. We’ve worked with and dozens of startups, nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies (including American Express, Google, and Penguin Random House) and our work has been featured in Idealist.org, Marketplace, and The New York Times and Entrepreneur Magazine. We’re thrilled to be able to share our stories and are even more thrilled to help you share yours.
Andrew Linderman teaches storytelling at the Media Bistro, General Assembly, the Brooklyn Brainery and New York University. He is the founder of The Story Source, a consultancy that helps artists, business people, and entrepreneurs tell compelling stories. His former clients include Google, American Express, Penguin Random House Publishing, PBS, and dozens of small businesses and startups around the world.
Prior to founding The Story Source, Andrew served as a story coach with the community and education programs at The Moth, a MacArthur award-winning non-profit dedicated to the craft of storytelling, and trained as an actor and improviser at the Upright Citizens Brigade and the Atlantic Theater Company in New York City.
Andrew is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and has worked as a city planner, a radio DJ, and an economist. He has lots of stories to tell but promises never to tell them in the third person.