Why storytelling matters: the Forward 2018 Conference

“Create extraordinary customer experiences everywhere your customers are.”

This was the theme with which Skyword CEO Thomas Gerace (who also co-authored Storynomics) kicked off the company’s recent Forward 2018 storytelling conference in Boston. By the end of the day, no one had any doubt that stories are the way forward in content and marketing.

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Some of the most memorable moments and takeaways from the day:

Eastern Bank‘s story of impact and responsibility had quite a few people considering a bank switch by morning’s end. So many brands have a heart-driven story of why they do what they do, and Easter Standard’s new campaign beautifully encapsulates its commitment to the people it serves. Banks and heart don’t typically easily live in the same sentence, but EB seems to have found a way to fix that, and much of it was rooted in the question: What does it mean to do good? The bank’s answer: Good isn’t just what you are, it’s what you do.

Lynda Berry danced, sang, and shared her wisdom on how to find our inner creatives and storytellers. Some of her favorite collaborators – the children she works with – have a natural knack for seeing where the pencil takes them, and her touching poems encouraged everyone in the audience to get a little bit free. Because the creativity that emerges from that freedom is the stuff we remember. More than data, more than reasoning or persuasion, stories are the things that stick.

Wes Moore, the day’s final speaker, told his own story of overcoming barriers both internal and external – and cultivated the type of empathy our world needs a little (ok, a lot) more of. He shared the story that became the foundation for his book, The Other Wes Moore, discussing two Baltimore boys who shared much more than just a name growing up – but ended up in very different places: one on the stage at Forward 2018 inspiring a roomful of storytellers, another in prison. They’ve since become friends through many letters and prison visits, and the Wes in front of us is determined to make sure that his counterpart’s story doesn’t get lost and serves a purpose.

Among the most notable life lessons he shared was this simple idea:

“We are not the products of our environments. We are products of our expectations.”

The physical takeaways: Storynomics, a great read on the power of storytelling, co-authored by Skyword’s CEO, and a storyteller’s notebook so no good idea goes unwritten.

The bottom line: Storytelling is the best marketing.

Thanks for a great day, Skyword.

Is Anyone Hearing Your Social Media Voice?

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If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it…you know the rest.

Today, when most of us spend far more time navigating the dense forest that is the social media landscape than strolling among actual trees, this existential question might look more like:

If a human or a brand isn’t on social media, does it exist?

Yes, of course – but not as loudly. And, depending on that human or brand’s goals, perhaps not as effectively. After attending an MITX Influence(her) workshop led by Beth Monaghan, CEO of the leading Boston PR agency InkHouse, on “Building Your Personal Brand” last week, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought.

Among the takeaways from Beth’s talk:

  • Know what you want to achieve (this means setting your own personal/professional goals – and knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing, and who you need to build relationships with on your path to your goal)
  • Define your digital personality (who do you want to be and how do you want to be perceived?)
  • Make yourself stand out (fitting in is for dandelions – you want to show what makes you a never-before-seen species)
  • Create a plan (even for those who live and breathe social media, a plan that pairs frequency with relevance will help make the time spent online meaningful; as a rule, we’re not creatures that thrive on randomness)

Resources for understanding and creating social media strategy

If you’d like some introductory or hands-on tools for creating social media strategy – or just to get a bit wiser on how our most-loved brands and online influencers and personalities gain loyal followers, someone has done the work for us.

Brian Peters at Buffer (a tool that lets you schedule posts, track content performance, and manage your accounts) pulled together 37 Free Social Media and Marketing Courses to Elevate Your Skills Today. A big fan of SkillShare, I’m breezing through Brian’s own course (the first one his list) – complete with worksheets and thought-provoking content. Incidentally (though not at all coincidentally), it helps both Brian and Buffer build their brands as knowledgeable, approachable, and helpful social media gurus.

Here’s to discovering new, creative, authentic and fulfilling ways to define who you are and what you stand for, to organically build your social media presence, and to reach the people you actually want to connect with.

 

Better Blogging 101

BLOG imageWhat better way to kick of a marketing & communications resource and ideas blog than a post about better blogging (thought I, trying not to let the blank-page effect of a new blog get the best of me)?

Here are a few resources I’ve found useful in planning blogs for clients and myself.

  1. If you’re not using SkillShare yet, I recommend it highly. For about $10 a month, you get access to engaging, useful lessons by people like you (but a bit more knowledgable on the topics you need/want to brush up on), from self-branding, writing and marketing to calligraphy and painting.  Become a Better Blogger, by Andrea Goulet, Cofounder and CEO of Corgibytes, offers a great, insightful and inspiring intro to getting ahead from the get-go.
  2. 6 Strategies for Launching a Successful Blog from Entrepreneur.com is a quick and digestible guide for getting started – thoughtfully and purposefully.
  3. Get Scrappy, a great marketing book by Nick Westergaard, features this Rudyard Kipling ditty as a starting point for any marketing or branding effort you’re about to undertake:

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In other words, if you want any marketing effort – including your blog – to be successful, you first have to answer Who, What, Where, Why, When and How.

Do you have a top blogger tip or favorite resource?