This week I had the honor of presenting at the Rochester Regional Library Council’s Storytelling & Social Media Symposium at St. John Fisher College. The event was very well rounded, with sessions on Leadership & Storytelling, Data-Driven Storytelling, and How to Craft Your Message and Share it Strategically on Social Media. Everyone shared tons of great content and ideas, so I wanted to recap some of the highlights from each presentation.
3 Takeaways from Leadership and Storytelling by Shannon Cleverley-Thompson, Ed.D.
1) Stories function as mental maps that help us learn what’s important and how an organization functions.
Leaders may not think they need to learn how to tell stories, but human brains love stories. They are essential for our learning, and in a professional context, can help us learn about what matters and how a business operates. Stories can be used to motivate others, build trust, transmit values, build a brand, and much more.
2) A good best practice for crafting a story is to take it from the one word version → the one sentence version → the one paragraph version.
Perfect stories don’t necessarily just fall out of your mouth organically. You have to practice. A good way to get started is to distill your entire story to its simplest level: a one word summary of your main idea. From there, build that out into the one-sentence version that gets at a little more of the core of the idea. After you’ve done that, you can concoct a one-paragraph version that shares more of the narrative. Keep practicing, and ask for feedback.
3) You don’t need to fear public speaking. You just need to know how to tell a good story.
It’s true—public speaking may seem daunting, but if you can tell a good story, you’re more likely to connect with your audience and get your message across. Hone your storytelling, and you’ll be a top-notch public speaker!
3 Takeaways from Know Your Audience: Data-Driven Storytelling by Arien Rozelle
1) Communicating as the voice of an organization is a full-time job.
It’s 2019, and we shouldn’t be handing social media off to interns anymore. Your social media manager is the voice of your brand, representing the company to anyone who interacts with it online. This person needs expertise, knowledge, and strategic approaches to their work; nothing a social media manager does is random.
2) Research is a continual project, not a static, one-time occurence.
Your audience is always changing and evolving, because they’re humans. At least quarterly, conduct research on demographics, psychographics, and beyond. Otherwise you may find that suddenly, you’re no longer reaching your target audience.
3) Context is key.
While it may seem that vanity metrics are awesome, like a high follower count or tons of comments on a post, they don’t provide much meaningful information. Factors like sentiment can actually provide much more insight for future communications decisions. People are engaging with your brand, but how do they feel about it?
3 Takeaways from How to Craft Your Message & Share it Strategically on Social Media by Emily Hessney Lynch
1) Don’t be boring.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s okay to have an interesting and different voice on social media! You don’t have to be stiff and hyper-professional. Social media is meant to be social. Find what works best for your organization. Experiment a little, but once you hit your stride, consistency is crucial.
2) Topic + key message → story.
Oftentimes, we’re in a hurry and will quickly post to promote an upcoming event or share a news story, and then run right off the platform to get on with the rest of our work. That type of promotional content can get dull for our audience. Try to tie those types of promotional posts into a key message of your organization to show why it matters and why your audience should care. By tying these elements together, you’re better able to tell a good story instead of just telling people to show up to your event.
3) Interactivity is important.
We’ve all been on the internet (hi! We’re here right now!) and we know that people love to share their opinions. Give your audience a chance to do so! Interaction makes social media more fun, and it’s a great way to gather feedback too. Utilize polls, quizzes, the questions sticker, and the emoji reaction slider. You can even crowdsource ideas for new content by asking your audience what they’d like to see more of!
I hope you learned something from this post about a wonderful day of educational presentations! Though the sessions were designed for library professionals, the lessons are applicable for communications and marketing folks across a variety of industries. Happy storytelling!