Storytelling in Social MediaWhen we use social media we are consciously or subconsciously constructing and telling the narratives of our lives – one micro story at a time. We filter out and share the moments of our lives that fit with how we see our character within a life-long story. This isn't cynical or lying it is just showing the edited highlights.
Storytelling in social media is just as important for organizations. That is why values and tone of voice are aspects what we integrate or develop with a client early on in social media strategy development. It is easy to manage your own story, however, when many people are involved it is very important that they are on the same page (so as so to say).
Storytelling and ManagementI have been thinking over the years, however, that the story of an organization is fundamental to its very survival. When clear and worthy values are in place and the goals are well defined it is much easier to get the workforce onboard and excited.
Time and again I have witness that social media collaboration projects struggle to gain traction if the community doesn't have a clear sense of the goals they are trying to achieve, and the greater good that the goals will bring; without some level of passion (or at least commitment to the cause) fancy social media tools will struggle to gain traction.
People forget that when it comes to implementing technology the sociological issues are as important as the technical ones; and this is particularly so with social media-based solutions. There are many questions you should ask before choosing or designing the collaboration environments, including: Who are the members? What matters to them?
Four Cs of CollaborationDuring my thesis at Media Lab Helsinki I started to develop what I call the 4 Cs of Collaboration and they have been refined and confirmed within my work at Zipipop. They consist of:
Community — real community with shared goals
Communication — willingness to share information
Cooperation — practical tools and training
Co-creation — will come about when first 3 Cs are in place
Without the social elements in place the practical parts will surely fail.
And before the 4Cs comes story. The story is the main reason people will commit themselves to a the development of a company beyond the need to earn a salary. Why does the company exist? What values are driving it? Where is it going?
Keeping the story freshIt is nothing new to say that Apple is the epitome of a value driven company that attracts the brightest and the best. Nike is another good example of company that keeps driving its narrative forward with market innovations, while still retaining the basic character of Nike.
On the other hand we see a company like Nokia that came to the end of a very successful storyline without new narrative strands securely in place it. It is no good having the tightest and best executed script if the basic story has become tired. Nokia has been cooking up an interesting new story with Microsoft that is gaining some level of attention but there has been damaging delays in getting it out to the public; however, Nokia has successfully rewritten its story many times in the past so we can expect them to do it again.
The challenge is to keep reinventing the story so that it stays relevant to changing times. In some ways it is easier to look at celebrities like Madonna who has constantly updated her story (image) for decades in often dramatic ways while still maintaining the underlying values for which she represents. In this regard she is something of a genius.
Many business areas, especial those like web service and game development, are moving towards a Hollywood hit model where 1 big success pays for 9 failures; however, many established companies should view themselves more like a soap opera with ongoing stories containing many twists and turns and continually developing to meeting changing viewer expectations.
What's your company's story?Are you communicating your story effectively both internally and externally via social media channels?
Are you collaboratively developing innovative twists to your story so that when the current chapter finishes you will have a something new to tell?
Whatever happens, don't let the story come to an end.
(For more views on the importance of story-telling check out my colleague Mikko Nisula recently post in Markkinointi&Mainonta)