I was at an excellent event yesterday organised by Catsnake; The Story Agency. Their Creative Director Stephen Follows spoke to us about the importance of stories and where they all began in ancestral times.
Nowadays we all enjoy stories, deep down we seek out those that do it well and we will reward them with our business or a donation or our custom. Stories affect us, we feel personally involved. They inspire action because they feed into our limbic system part of our brain (Stephen had a cool diagram which made me feel like I was back in a Science lesson), which is responsible for our motivations and emotions. Stephen spoke about how evolution has made the most important things deeply enjoyable; Fuel became Cuisine, Procreation became Sex and Survival Techniques became Stories. Stories are survival and might therefore explain why Charities should be using them in all their communications.
So what is a story? It is an account of people (imaginary or real) and events told for entertainment. And if you know the action or journey you want to communicate to your audiences you can find stories to reinforce that narrative.
So what makes for the most shareable content when it comes to story telling?
1. It has to have practical value; if the audience feel like something is useful they are much more likely to share it. For example, explaining how something works or providing a usable template
2. You can make the person retelling your story the hero, eg make them sound intelligent or in touch with current trends
3. You tap into a familiar items which trigger associations – eg. a milk bottle (see Catsnake’s film to better understand this one…catsnake.com/stories)
4. On a deep level humans need to be recognised. Social media and sharing content is a great way of validating someone so provide stories that will be easily recognised and enjoyed
5. When we care we share. The emotional buttons have been pushed and emotions that drive action are: Anger, Anxiety, Awe, Excitement and Humour. Awe is incredibly fleeting but it can move mountains! Excitement is very powerful, tapping in to wanting to be part of something. Humour is a generous emotion and inherently viral. Anger and Anxiety are negative emotions but can still push buttons and drive action
Finally Stephen told us about The golden theme; stories that show we are all the same. We are going through the same thing and the same moments. We’re not alone. From Coronavirus to space travel to the invention of the internet to global warming. More unites us than divides us. Being around people is a good place to be. Thank you Catsnake.