That is a valid question to ask. It's something that has stuck with me that's just like an old truism that facts don't convince people, stories do. People do not change their mind when presented with the facts, you need only look at the political parties in the US and what's happening right now in American politics to understand that facts are meaningless in changing someone's mind, and the only thing that matters is a good story. That has been true throughout all of human history, stories absolutely have shaped this entire world be it from religious stories and religious texts and just how important those are.
Stories about a country's place in the world, a story that they may be told themselves. If we look at the great battle, the great civil rights and civil liberties battles of the last a hundred years, the biggest steps have been taken when stories were being told that could not be ignored. I think first if you can understand how important a story is in changing someone's mind and if changing someone's mind is influencing them in a lot of ways, then it is essential for you, as an influencer, to know how to use storytelling as a tool to be able to burrow your message into the brains of your audience. That is why stories are so important, but why is it that they work so well?
I think three core things to remember to think about when you think about stories is one, they provide context. If you are talking about something without context, your audience gets confused. Let's just talk about, in this case, let's talk about a sponsored post, and you're doing a post for a brand, the story that you tell about how you came into contact with the brand, the way you found out about it, your experience in using it, that story gives your audience context of what is this, and essentially, what is it doing for me, and when do I use it? What that story can do when it gives context is tell you who is it for, when do I use it, what does it do?
Those three things are really important. Sure, you could rattle those off in just a list and say, "Here's what it does, here's who it's for, and here's when you use it," but that isn't super compelling, so the story can tell all of those things that you need to communicate when you're telling a new idea, but can do it in a way that's entertaining and someone doesn't necessarily know that they're being informed of something. They don't feel like they're being preached at or lectured to, but they're just listening to a story but all the while they're getting those three points.
The next is that they humanize the message. Increasingly, as influencers, we're doing more brand messaging. We need those messages and we need your posts to feel human. We need your audience to be able to put a face to it and understand the human side of what this thing is and why you should care. The best posts about travel, the best travel influencers in my mind aren't the people who take these ridiculous, amazing landscape photos, it's the people that humanize those places, that tells stories that show me a side of that country, that city, that neighborhood that I couldn't get from a landscape photo. It's the human side of the message that really pulls us in.
One of my favorite Instagram followers that I've talked about is this woman Sophie Roberts. We'll have Tim put up a link to her account, but she is a writer for Condé Nast Traveler. She goes into these ridiculous places and she just pulls out these human stories. She could zoom out and take this amazing landscape. She spends a lot of time in Siberia, she could have these amazing photos of that, but instead, it's a photo of somebody sitting in their hut in the Siberian tundra feeding them a lamb stew and she's talking about that. For me, that humanization, that makes the story real and it makes it so much more impactful and so much more memorable.
That's what you want, you want your stories to be remembered and retold. To do that, you need to humanize it in a way that goes into the last point, which is they create an emotional connection. Your audience wants to connect to you, they want to feel like they are your friend, they want to feel like they know you, and to do that, you have to humanize yourself and open yourself up to creating that connection with the audience, and stories help your audience get to know you, they provide context about you, and they humanize the life that you're living and allow for that emotional connection.
Those are the three buckets, I think, of why storytelling is so important, why I think without it, it would be very, very difficult to create compelling content on the Internet.
- The Importance of Stories and Storytelling