How Social Media is Revolutionizing the Power of Storytelling

During the past several years, it seems as though I could not attend an industry event or conference without a session on the importance of storytelling.  Perhaps I am especially sensitive to the power of storytelling since I started consulting for the Fred Rogers Center in 2009.  Mister Rogers had an undeniable engagement with his audience that was based to a great extent on his skills as a storyteller (there are days when I still wish life seemed as simple as it was in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of Make-Believe).

A recent article in the McKinsey Quarterly highlights how storytelling and social media can be leveraged to strengthen relationships with your institution.  As the authors note “Treating stories as assets is an under realized idea right now.”  That seems to be especially true in colleges and universities.  Ultimately, it is the emotional connection with an institution that determines whether a prospective student attends … or whether an alumnus donates to their alma mater in later years. 

When you consider the example of Mister Rogers, I expect most would agree that he was viewed as authentic and instilled trust in his audiences … elements that are critical to effective storytelling.  As Jennifer Aaker explained, “The reason authenticity becomes important in social media is that as you think about customers or employees stepping toward a cause, it’s oftentimes done when they trust the entity. When they step away from an organization, cause, or goal, it’s often because they feel it’s overly manufactured, overly professional, something to potentially distrust.”

Do you have examples of effective storytelling in higher education?  I would love to hear them.


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