Sharing Versus Telling Benefits Social Profitability
Engaging and activating others by sharing the experience
We have long known that there is a correlation between the message and the success of not-for-profit campaigns. We feel so much more engaged when we hear a narrative about events, rather than just receiving blanket statements. Why does one react in such a visceral way when someone shares a story of his or her experience? Understanding this is vital in uncovering relatable ways to communicate your message for Social Profitability.
Consider that ‘telling’ is transactional. Equate it to selling a message in a thirty-second radio spot. We hear it, but do we always relate to it?
When you tell someone to do something, it is one-sided and may result in resistance or tuning out further communication. Balance that with ‘sharing,’ which creates meaning and empathy and allows the speaker to deliver complex emotions and their personal truths.
According to Princeton researcher Uri Hasson, storytelling is the only way to plant ideas into other people’s minds.
In point of fact, there is a biochemical difference between sharing and telling. Research shows us that sharing stories actually stimulates the part of our brain called the insula, causes changes to the way in which our brain functions, and even how we act. The audience actively listening to the story searches their memory for commonalities in order to empathize with their experience of pain or sadness, happiness or success.
When we speak for ourselves, we share instead of tell, and allow people the opportunity to determine what for them is the most pertinent information from the story. Bringing the audience into the experience through hearing these shared accounts allows the cause to fuel support and create connection.
Charities and organizations can heighten and further activate opportunities by engaging well-connected public spokespeople to reach out to their audiences.
My team and I have found success in talent activation and ensuring that the talent participates in the not-for-profit event. In this way, they can speak from the heart in an authentic way and share their experience. It’s the difference between the newscaster sitting at a desk reading the news, versus the journalist out in the field reporting on what he or she is seeing around them.
There is also an implied endorsement from the talent for the cause.
There is one group for which telling will work. These are the zealots, or ultra-supporters, who are already passionate about your cause. By telling them what you need, you are able to motivate them into action. They, in turn, will share their own stories and spread the message to get their networks involved.