Use storytelling and fun to inspire action

Today I went to SoundDelivery’s third Social Media Exchange (#SMEX14) on storytelling.  Do check out the presentations, resources and links in the excellent Storify. There were so many useful tips and examples which will inspire you to share the stories at the heart of your organisation.

Sign: Stairs are slippery when wet. take Care

Matt Howarth of digital agency Reason Digital ran two excellent sessions on persuasion. He looked at how gamification and storytelling can be used as persuasive tool to encourage action or change attitudes or behaviour. You might not think that the two are related but think iHobo from De Paul (who incidentally have a stories section on their website – no mention of old fashioned case studies here).

Here are my top take-homes from today.

Make tasks fun

There are some brilliant examples of where fun has been injected into mundane activities such as the Swedish piano keyboard staircase (and other task transformations by TheFunTheory) and Zombies Run game. At Epping Forest there are speed bumps which play a tune when cars speed over them which only those on foot can enjoy.

In terms of our digital work, fun doesn’t have to mean producing a game or app. Do it on a small scale on your website – think of the Fetch button on the Dog’s Trust website or RSPCA’s oops error page.

Think about the transactions on your site. How can you make them less annoying and more fun? Are your forms too long and ask pointless questions? Do you use an illegible and frustrating CAPTCHA? Could you use a simple fun (and much more accessible) question instead?

Fun is memorable. Fun shows that you care about the user-experience. There is a fine line though between fun and wacky. Test out what works for you.

Use great stories

A great story is naturally persuasive as it should make the reader want to share it or do something about it. A good story can be enhanced or ruined in the telling. How you share it is the key. For example, does the story work in video / audio / photos? Where do you end the story? Who is telling it? How long is it?

Where and how often you share your stories is important. Oversharing means you will lose impact. Think about where your points of influence are. For example could you include a story on your donation thank you page or email?

Authenticity is persuasive and engaging (this is why The Listening Project conversations are so powerful). Hopefully the days of black and white, sad music, slow-motion, voice-over (poor John etc) charity videos are over. Hand over the voice to your users. Let them tell their own stories.

See my previous post on storytelling for examples of great charity storytelling.

Don’t be scared to make the ask

Sign up to YouTube’s NonProfit programme. This gives you lots of extra functionality including the ability to insert donation buttons into your videos. Don’t just stick it in at the end but test out where an ask is most powerful. This 1minute Orphans in Need video – You Haven’t Done Anything – has it at the start.

Make the ask easy and relevant – don’t just rely on the donation button at the top of the page. Insert an ask. If donations are unlikely or complicated, simplify it by asking for an email address and building from there. If you are using Twitter or SMS, ask for donations via TextGiving.

Go back to persuasion principles: include achievable goals, give rewards, make the ask urgent, tell them the benefit, make it social, help your story to spread. See more in my KnowHow NonProfit guide on how to be persuasive online.

Other fun / inspiring / interactive examples of persuasion

School makers: ‘Choose your own adventure’ style interactive video by SGOSS with children interviewing the viewer. (See this blog post by Torchbox for the thinking behind it)

SGOSS school children interview

Other examples

I’d love to hear of other examples of persuasive storytelling or fun interactions. Please share via comments here or via Twitter (@madlinsudn).

Please also get in touch if you’d like me to help you review your storytelling or think about how to make your interactions more engaging. I am a freelance web editor and can help you give your communications a healthcheck and ideas injection.

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