Storytelling used to be a simple concept; use words and images to capture what it means to be human. Today, we as humans are constantly oversaturated and overstimulated by information so that when we hear, see, feel, or experience something new, we become more desensitized as a collective race. Technology has given us the incredible ability to connect each and every one of us on a virtual level, however, our ability to feel connected on a personal level is becoming harder and harder to come by. As a result, this phenomenon has spurred growth in how we brand our companies and promote our products.
Today, our question as marketers is no longer how we can get our name and story out there. This is because distribution is no longer a burdening obstacle. Technology and data help us find what distribution channels are going to be the most effect in reaching our target demographic. Today, we instead ask how we can share our story to make an impact and inspire people to listen. The answer: create a story that inspires readers to explore further.
How Humans of New York (HONY) Masters The Art of Storytelling
Take HONY for example. Brand Stanton, entrepreneur/photographer, started HONY with the dream of photographing and gathering stories from 10,000 people on the streets of New York and plotting them on a map of the city. After 6 short years, HONY has over 5.3 million followers on Instagram and 17.6 million followers on Facebook.
More notably, HONY has used the power of its followers for charitable advances. Some of Stanton’s HONY fundraisers included raising $1,000,000(10 times over the fundraising goal) for a school in the Bronx, $2,340,000(234% over the fundraising goal) for Bonded Labor Liberation Front to help end debt slavery around the word, and many more small fundraisers that brought in more funds than anticipated. Stanton has since been interviewed by President Obama and published a best-selling book.
These accomplishments, along with many others, show us that whatever Stanton is doing is right. So, as marketers, we ask again, “How can we share our stories to make an impact, inspire people to listen, and take action?”
Lessons to Learn from Brandon Stanton and HONY
If you create your stories around a set of values and share these stories consistently, this will ensure people will know how where, when, and what to expect from your content. Unless you’re a celebrity, the likelihood of your story or post going unnoticed is pretty high. Additionally, Instagram and Facebook’s algorithmic-adjusted news feeds will only show users what they have engaged with organically.
Honesty is compelling. If the story triggers human emotion, that emotion will carry over to the reader. As long as you are conveying the story from its true origin without focusing on the lens of your own agenda and opinions, you are cultivating authenticity and honesty. Readers will see that and appreciate it.
More than anything else, humans want to be able to connect with other humans. If your story has the capacity to elicit honest emotion and your brand is authentic to that story, the foundation of storytelling will translate into inspiring readers to explore further. As a content marketer, these fundamentals will help make content creation a whole lot easier.