You’ve found your organisation’s story (or a chapter), now it’s time to share it.
Don’t automatically reach for Twitter just because you’re addicted to your personal account, a la the Donald! Do your research into how your target audiences consume information, then consider your organisation’s capabilities on those platforms or capacity to engage experts for guidance, as well as how to adapt your story for each channel. This practice is known as channel management.
Think creatively about your delivery vehicle and be open to new methods and technologies. Look beyond the dull press release! From augmented and virtual realities, to creative approaches to social media, and compelling visual representations of data, each new platform presents an opportunity to tell your story, your way. The trick is in penning (or ‘gramming) a bestseller!
Think of a social media post as a footnote to your organisation’s story. It’s not the central plot, but should add context and colour to the overarching narrative.
It’s useful to be aware of the conventions of each platform, without becoming overly limited by them.
For example, Twitter users regularly subvert the 140 character limit by posting multiple tweets in succession to weave a longer narrative. On Facebook, long winded, widely shared posts challenge the assumption that social media communications must cater to short 2017 attention spans to have an impact – hello Humans of New York!
However, Snapchat and Instagram stories are here for a good time, not a long time, and need to cut to the chase quick stat. Ephemeral online content is likely to be viewed primarily by followers already familiar with what you do, so don’t try and cover everything from your organisation’s dawn of time to the present moment in one post. Do use your short snaps to craft a longer narrative you've thought through, even if it's as simple as "who has the best desk in the office?" This is a useful resource.
Using social media to highlight a pivotal moment in your back catalogue can be powerful, such as Founder and CEO of Melbourne’s Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Kon Karapanagiotidis’ throwback to the now pivotal organisation’s humble beginnings as a TAFE project back in 2001.
Across all platforms, creativity is key.
The Animal Welfare League of NSWused one digital platform to riff on another with their super cute Tinder profiles for single and ready to mingle cats and dogs – a funny and effective way to tell the important story of abandoned animals.
Not every organisation has an abundance of kittens ready to lend their cuteness for promotional purposes, but even less obviously marketable organisations have stories to tell. Take the Queensland Police Force, who have more followers than any police force in the world (currently over 800,000 on Facebook), thanks to their penchant for humour and human interest stories.
Data, but different
The Guardian data editor Mona Chalabi “takes the numb out of numbers” with illustrations that distill big data into comprehensible and visually appealing snippets. Much of her work weaves narratives from trends in politics, feminism and social injustices; for example, the strong correlation between unemployment rates and anti-immigration sentiment in Australia (versus a weak correlation between higher immigration rates and anti-immigration sentiment).
The Brotherhood of St Laurence is another organisation turning data and statistics into compelling narratives, with easily digestible reports and human stories.
While big data might not to be available or relevant to your organisation, there are myriad ways to communicate your own complex information in a more engaging format.
If you’ve ever walked away from a long meeting in a daze with nothing but a notebook full of incomprehensible scribbles, consider graphic recording. Put simply, graphic recording is a visual representation of events and conversations that includes illustrations and words. It’s often used during conferences as a way to capture a rapid fire barrage of ideas and discussions. We love Sarah Firth’s work.
Graphic recordings are fun to consume and decode, therefore less likely to fall by the wayside than a pile of notes or a powerpoint presentation. They’re great shared internally or externally on social media to offer insight into your organisation’s processes, as a sneak peek of upcoming projects, or to summarise and follow up after a workshop or event.
Traditional storytelling mediums such as books (or in this case, a digital scrapbook) can still be powerful. Check out this children’s storybook inspired reporton President Trump’s first 100 days in office.