by Briana Campbell (@MsMatchGirl)
Through a twist of fate, on April 28th, I had the opportunity to attend Fast Company’s Innovation Uncensored. The line-up of speakers was amazing and the agenda was impressive. The point of the event, for those unfamiliar, was for leaders of innovative companies to share their thoughts, ideas and cultures and to inspire the next round of truly ground breaking, innovative companies.
Across it all, though, through all the great speakers, what really struck me – and what strikes me when I think of the world of social media and social networking in general – is that all the incredible things these people had to share ultimately hinged on the power of the story. And the power of communicating that story with others.
So. What does building a community have to do with telling great stories?
Technology is changing. People are not changing. This is pivotal.
Whether it’s a company executive sending emails about company culture and organizing training/getting-to-know-you retreats for all new hires or a teacher just trying to figure out a better way to get supplies the students need, it all comes back to the power of building community. It’s not magic. It certainly does not happen overnight – something each and every one of the Innovation Uncensored speakers agreed with – but if you look at things that exist and ask yourself how it is possible to make those things better, if what you are doing is something that matters to people, if you listen more than you speak, and if you can communicate these things clearly, and, more importantly, in a way that excites people, the community will grow.
John Landgraf, President and General Manager of FX Networks, certainly knows something about storytelling – the network has ten original shows on the air, five of them highly rated dramas with emphasis on telling good stories (If you disagree, I’m happy to discuss the merits of Sons of Anarchy over a drink!) – and what he had to say really resonated: Social media has the power to re-knit story into a collective experience. He went on to say that the center of our culture is narrative and that narrative becomes more powerful when experienced collectively.
Something that social networks give us, that had been lost as part of the American culture for a while, is the power to experience those stories together. You can watch your favorite television show and participate in a Tweet-chat simultaneously. You can share favorite songs on Facebook or participate in memes like the Thirty Day Song Challenge. It doesn’t matter if no one in your office watched American Idol last night – you don’t need to chat about the results at the water cooler – you can share your joy (or sorrow) about the results with fellow fans half a world away.
Social networks give us the power to push beyond our own insular group of friends and neighbors and share thoughts and insights and our own stories with the entire world.
People love to be part of something. People love a story. And your story, if it’s awesome, will get told.