May 31 2021
At any time look back at history, one conclusion is evident, almost all civilisations and even religions got grown-up on stories, shared stories which install themselves in the collective unconscious through oral or written transmission. Just think about holiest of holy text, Ancient Harapan culture, or the foundation of any faith. Beliefs, ideologies, and Cosmo visions have been shaped by an innovation shared through time, which established strong links with a family, a piece of land, a culture, et cetera.
Good stories are a priceless asset, being spontaneously passed through generations as a way of coming to terms with mankind, the universe, or societies. If someone need more proof about the value of words, think for a minute about the power of satire, the use of words that ridicule someone or something, a person, a family, a corporation, a government, which in some cases casts a spell which may stick to their name for decades or even centuries.
People forget facts, names, faces but remember stories, simply relate to humans more than we do to a message or a fact. People care for a narrative where we can find other human beings with us, or our loved ones can identify themselves with. It’s like the conversation so many times heard in the business section of newspapers, what will interest readers more? A highbrow and cold chronicle on the increase of petroleum prices? Or a story about the effects of the appreciation of wheat in some unfortunate communities? Both stories are necessary of course.
Although we depend on the type of media we’re talking about and its audience, you can be pretty sure which one will attract more readers, and which one will stay longer in their memories. Because stories enhance memory, stories with emotions, hookup with our already existing knowledge, and engage with the same parts of our brain which are responsible for the keeping of our memory.
Furthermore, stories create neural coupling in our brains. They synchronize the user’s brain with a teller’s mind. This happens mainly because neurons find the same patterns which ends up connecting them both emotionally. Stories also help to create vivid mental images.
Processing stories lights up a larger part of the brain than pure facts, as the brain response to story events as if they were actually happening to the listener, engaging all the sensors and the motor cortex in the brain.
Finally, stories have the power to even change the brain’s chemistry. Even the simplest one can trigger the release of neurochemicals like cortisol or oxitosin, that heighten our attention and make us more empathic. Happy endings as we know, trigger releases of dopamine that makes us feel optimistic towards the future.
So, coming back to core arguments, instead of bombarding citizens with messages they don’t give a damn about, often people with attention disorders that will be watching TV while using other devices at the same time, why not invite them to be part of something which they’re really interested in?
It’s more complex of course, but infinitely more rewarding. Creating a brand narrative stretches far beyond creating new Facebook pages or Twitter accounts. Paid media creates temporary buzz if it’s not sustained by a strong budget over several years. Nothing pays off better than creating good stories to engage our users at a different level. It’s tempting to think that new technologies will change marketing forever with some magical metric that consolidates a new business model.
But online advertising still doesn’t work like the offline one, and technology won’t save you or build your cohesion narrative. You must have thinking about the user and often content here or she can bond with, like it happens nowadays in media, although, in some cases we must say unfortunately so.
When it says that what’s old is new again, it is referring to the power of a good story, and it is referring to the word of mouth, a very old concept. In the end, it comes down to word of mouth with new and much more powerful dissemination tools. Nobody, not even the most traffic-oriented sites in the world know for sure what’s going to work content-wise.
It is necessary for brands and their marketing companies to start planning strategically-fit editorial process, and learn step-by-step what works or does not work for target audience. If companies give enough time for some trial and error, the companies will probably find next year doing things companies had not even imagined.