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6 Ways to Use Stories to Increase Adoption and Understanding

08.18.2013
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Want people to remember your message and share it with others?  Tell a story.  From parables to autobiographies to charitable campaigns, we know that storytelling can be powerful and engaging.  What if you could use the power of stories to help people not only understand how a collaboration platform could help them do their work, but motivate them to use it?

Some Early Failures


As we rolled out our Jive instance (called myDB) we talked about the potential benefits of working collaboratively.  We spoke about the importance of connecting to colleagues and the ease with which you could find people and information.  We created a "Solutions Catalogue" listing potential use cases.  We had a one-page marketing 'brochure' to answer questions like, "What is it?” and “What does it do?"

None of these had very much impact.  Until we noticed a shift. Stories began to emerge of how people were actually using myDB.  And as we continued to give demos and speak at team meetings evangelizing on what it was and what you could do with it, we found ourselves retelling these stories.  The result?  More people started to get it.

Inspiration from a Strange Place


My background is in theatre.  I grew up spending my summers at drama camp or in the local, community production of "The King and I".  Theatre is all about storytelling.  The choices you make as an actor need to serve the playwright's words and the director’s vision.  And it always comes back to the story you are telling.

But while I understood using storytelling as a device in a business context intellectually, I didn’t entirely understand its power until I tried it.  During a demo as I would launch into my script describing various features and functionalities of myDB, I saw people's eyes light up when I told them a story of what someone else was doing on myDB and the impact it had.

6 Kinds of Stories


Here are a few different ways we’ve discovered (so far) to tell our stories.

  • Working out loud profiles - Interviews with people who are active on myDB, sharing the benefits they are seeing from working more transparently and openly.
  • Team profiles - Similar  to  the  Working  out loud  profiles, but highlighting teams that are using myDB to engage with clients, improve team collaboration and get feedback and input from others.
  • Use case stories - Instead of listing potential use cases - like we tried with the "Solutions Catalogue" - writing up and telling the stories of people crowdsourcing solutions to common problems.  (An example is our Genius Bar story describing a grassroots effort to help people be more productive by allowing them to connect to work via their iPhones and iPad - conceived and rolled out via myDB).
  • Today's Picks - Daily stories of content, conversations and people doing ‘interesting’ things told in a distinctive ‘voice’.
  • Video spolights – Filmed interviews of people talking about their personal myDB stories - when it started making an impact, when they had an "ah ha!" moment, etc.
  • Advocate stories – Short anecdotes (told in a variety of ways) highlighting how members of our advocate program are helping others see benefit from myDB.

From Stories to Purpose


We’ve found that sharing how others are benefiting from a collaboration platform helps shift the focus from a purely tactical conversation around whether to create a group or a space or which widget to use, to a richer understanding around how people can benefit and the value it can add to your organization.  And we’ve discovered that by doing this, pretty soon people will stop asking “What is it?” and “What does it do?” and begin asking, “How else can we be using this?”

Published at DZone with permission of Jive Community, author and DZone MVB.

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