Everyone loves a good story. One that touches your heart, makes you laugh, and even makes you cry (especially for us weepers). Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am full of stories about everything from my beloved Aunt Mary to embarrassing, yet endearing moments when I forget someone’s name.
I love telling stories because they communicate who I am, what I do, and how I relate to others.
Does your member communication convey who your association is, what you do and how it relates to members? At the MMCC conference in May, Dan Bennett spoke about the importance of bringing stories to your membership communication to convey who your association serves and why people should belong to it.
The world gives us so many opportunities to write stories: Blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, magazines, newsletters, and billboards are just a handful of the ways we can communicate via the written word. Notices or articles don’t have to be long. One report states that Millennials have a 12-second attention span when browsing online and Generation Z has an 8-second attention span. Keep your stories short if you want them to be read. Just make sure it has a core message (stated in the first paragraph), connection, character, conflict, resolution, and a call to action.
However, stories aren’t just told in writing but in pictures, podcasts, animated movies, and videos. Video is an especially effective mode of storytelling; important as it puts a face and voice to the words spoken. For associations communicating with busy professionals, it’s essential to keep videos short, but association executives report that they don’t have to be high quality. Real people and real stories equal real engagement with someone others can relate to. High quality has its place if your association needs to present its best image for recruiting or promotional purposes.
What could your stories be about?
Success. Everyone loves to share success stories. Make a short video or post or article telling a personal story and reference the applicable product or experience to increase member engagement and market your association to potential new members.
Surveys. Has your association conducted a member survey of any kind recently? Share the results from as many platforms as possible! People love learning about themselves.
Members. Let members get to know other members through your communications. They’ll learn more about their network (your association) and they’ll want to be included more once they see other members featured. They’ll also be more likely to engage with each other at your face-to-face events because they’ll have a conversation starter. “I saw your video/article/profile. I would love to learn how you did/used/conquered that issue!” Story-facilitated engagement + an emotional connection = loyal members.
How many of you have articles or surveys or photos lying around that one of your members could add a story to? Have you asked? If you don’t ask your members for their stories, chances are they won’t give them.
Share the tale
Meet your audience where they are – in multiple places at once! We carry computers in our pockets. Make sure your stories can be easily accessed on any device. Repurpose your content into different mediums.
Instead of being long and complicated, stories should be short and sweet. Use stories to attract new members, share best practices, educate, show movement in the organization and advocacy initiatives, and so much more.
And if you haven’t heard an Aunt Mary or embarrassing ‘me’ story, just ask. You are in for a laugh. That’s my story and I am sticking to it!