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Social Storytelling

3 Mar

Lisa Geddes, former VP of Marketing for the Rick Hansen Foundation, spoke and inspired my communications class about corporate and effective storytelling. She pointed out that storytelling has been the main communication channel since the beginning of time, referring to tribes, William Shakespeare, movies and music. Storytelling is truly the basis of everything we do. She feels that storytelling is “how we’re built to communicate,” which is why it is so effective in the corporate world. However, companies are having trouble communicating stories about their history to consumers, and are still focusing on quantitative values rather than personal values.

Lisa emphasized the fact that stories should always have a protagonist to introduce the story, a crisis or event in the middle of the story, and a moral to conclude the meaning of the story. Generic, inhumane company background stories do not capture the attention or interest of consumers. According to Lisa, good stories must be in alignment with your company, and must be authentic. They should avoid emotional dissonance by starting fresh from where the company last left off. Stories should always explain “why” and have a good reason for telling the story in the first place. The audience is only going to be engaged if they can relate to the story, so companies should know their audience’s interests and lifestyles in and out. Good stories should be emotive, informative and entertaining, and must contain a central message, while providing context.

Companies are still failing to produce authentic, engaging stories about their background and values because they feel that consumers are already doing so by using social media. Little do they know, if they have a presence online and engage consumers with their own story, consumer input may change for the better, and more positive stories could be generated by consumers on a daily basis.

Lisa then went on to explain that in order to “change your culture, change your story.” She also mentioned the theory of opening a story or message with the line “let me tell you a story.” According to Lisa, it is proven that when this phrase is mentioned before telling the story, a part of the brain opens up and prepares itself to listen carefully. Lisa’s presentation was very inspirational and highlighted the power of storytelling, especially in the corporate world.

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Social Media & Culture

24 Feb

Because I chose to focus on social media and its effects on communication for one of my class presentations, I was intrigued to find an interesting opinion article on Mashable by Josh Rose, which highlights how social media is positively impacting our culture.

Josh questions if social media channels make you feel closer or further away from people, and explores the effect of the internet on our humanity. He points out that the majority of people feel closer to people they are further away from, but further away from the people they are closest to. Josh explains that this confusing paradox where two conflicting realities exist side-by-side draw us nearer and distance us at the same time.

In the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik explores cultural truism in his article “How the Internet Gets Inside Us.” He categorizes three viewpoints: the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers and the Ever-Wasers. Each group contains people that see the social media evolution as good, bad or normal.

According to Josh, “people are not giving up long-form reading, considered thinking or social interactions. They are just filling all the space between.” Josh goes on to explain that the interaction happening through the internet and social media is not like an interaction we have ever seen before. I found this very interesting as Dave Olson would beg to differ. Dave believes that social media purposes are almost identical to what we have been using all along (telegrams, scrapbooking, photo albums).

Josh compares this intriguing interaction to “an intertwining sine wave that touches in and out continuously.” He argues that the internet does not steal our humanity, it reflects it; it doesn’t get inside us, it shows what’s inside us. Ultimately, social media is a tool that is hard to define, and is destroyed only at great risk. Josh’s final point emphasizes the fact that people should stop discussing how technology is changing us and forcing us to refrain from social interaction; rather, we should take a look at the unbelievable things we are accomplishing by using it.

Here is the full article on Mashable that I encourage you to read!