BlogHangout

Honesty + Questions = Collaborative Storytelling

July 29, 2015 — by Nicole Rohr Stephani0

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BlogHangout

Honesty + Questions = Collaborative Storytelling

July 29, 2015 — by Nicole Rohr Stephani0

Honesty + Questions = Collaborative StorytellingHow many communities have you joined, and then later felt like you were just being marketed to? Maybe the brand story didn’t feel authentic, or it was one voice talking to you consistently with no variation or other contribution. There are ways to draw in your community members and have them be a passionate, engaged part of your brand’s story. On our July 17th #CMGRHangout, we discussed inviting members to be a part of your story, therefore creating something stronger and unforgettable: a sense of belonging, a sense of something greater than ourselves … a sense of community.

How do you use storytelling to bring out emotion, and what is the benefit of unlocking passion by bringing out that emotion in your storytelling?

The benefit is that you help your community bring your passion to the group. They’re no longer passers-by. When you unlock that passion in your community members, they’ll want to be a part of your story. They’ll want to help you grow it and to become advocates for your mission. They’ll start to have conversations with each other without you prompting them.

Building trust and evoking passion go hand in hand. If you take someone on an emotional journey, you’re asking them to trust you. If you watch a movie or a television show, and the emotion is constant and there’s no relief, you feel exhausted. If a filmmaker doesn’t give a viewer a chance to catch his/her breath, he/she is asking a lot of your viewer. It’s the same with storytelling—you need arcs and highs and lows to take your community along with you on a journey.

The greatest thing you can do as a storyteller is to get someone to buy into your story. A story is not a line straight across—life has ups and downs, so the story of your community has ups and downs, too. Honesty is important to the trust factor in your community.

By being honest, open and evoking passion, you can create a community that moderates itself. Some of the most successful communities out there have members that consistently contribute to the experience and are really active in the space.

But how can you invite your community to participate in your brand story?

Make the story about your community members—showcase their stories in addition to the story of the brand/community as a whole. Share individual highs and lows to encourage other members to collaborate and develop your brand story even further.

Ask questions! Open–ended questions, polls, and invitations to share their stories can be extremely useful. Think simple questions—it’s an easy way to get more activity within your community.

Assure your community members that they are not simply observing someone talking or preaching or marketing to them. Remember—your community members are helping you write your story, and if you don’t include them, they might not stick around for long.

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Nicole Rohr Stephani

Queen of Content Strategy at BTC Revolutions
Nicole moved to Chicago four years ago to earn her Master of Science degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, graduating in December 2010. She wrote and produced video for John Lothian News at the Chicago Board of Trade, then worked for WYCC PBS Chicago in content strategy and community management. Nicole is now Queen of Content Strategy at BTC Revolutions, and is also Social Media Specialist for Lynch Communications Group, LLC. She is originally from Birmingham, Ala., has just completed her first half marathon, and refuses to go vegan due to her longlasting love affair with cheese. Nicole enjoys reading on rooftops and having glorious, pensive walks to and from the farmer's market.
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