Submitted by Chad Norman, publisher of I dig webby things...and I bet you do too
So much of social media and relationship marketing revolves around storytelling, and this is especially true for nonprofits. Using the internet and social media as a vehicle to tell stories is an approachable, inexpensive, and effective way to engage your audience (Check out NTEN's social media and storytelling web seminars series for the juicy details.)
Last week I was listening to some old school hip-hop - you know, Eric B and Rakim, Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, etc. These artists are all great examples of how media can be used for social change - as a vehicle for storytelling. At this phase in the evolution of hip-hop, artists were still explaining to listeners WHY they were picking up a microphone - meaning, they were trying to tell us about themselves...about their organization, and what they were trying to accomplish.
KRS1 was the brains behind Boogie Down Productions, and he was a master storyteller. He devoted a few songs on every album that told us about himself, his mission, and why he was speaking out. I think that's something all nonprofits can learn from. It's like selling yourself from the inside out. KRS1 would go on to become an expert at using music as a vehicle for social change (a whole other blog post), but early on it was all about telling his own story. And he did it well.
Here are 5 quotes from the Boogie Down Productions classic "My Philosophy" that provide lessons in storytelling that all nonprofits can benefit from:
"You're a philosopher? Yes, I think very deeply."
Do you know you stuff? Oh yeah you do - and your audience wants to learn from you. Go deep, be honest, and be passionate. Tell your story from the roots up. Nobody knows your mission better than you, so every time you write, blog, podcast, and speak, tell your story proudly and your philosophy will get across.
"You gotta have style, and learn to be original"
The best ideas may be stolen, but they're also the most common. Put yourself or your organization out there in a unique way that people can connect with. Be creative. Your story is yours, so give it a style and flair that reflects your culture and mission.
"I just produce, create, innovate on a higher level"
There is no substitute for hard work, high standards, and constant scheming. Join every social network, community, directory, and affinity group you can to tell your story. Be prolific, type furiously, be emotional - all when appropriate, of course. Content will always be king, so if your story is creative and innovative, it will be heard by the desired audience.
"It's not about a salary, it's all about reality"
A good story can connect with anyone, regardless of economic status. A well crafted, mission-focused message can impact an unemployed college graduate just as much as a Fortune 500 CEO. People are giving because of how they feel about reality, not their salary. The ask might be different when that time comes, but everyone loves a good story.
"This is just one style, out of many"
Despite Kurt Vonnegut being my favorite author, I still search for opposing styles from other writers. Tell a good story, but don't forget to bring in new voices. Storytelling is very personal, and multiple authors will bring multiple styles. This can help you reach a wider audience. Find the storytellers in your organization, whether they are members, staff, donors, or board members, and give them the platform to tell your story.
So, are you ready to channel your inner old-school hip-hop master and start storytelling? Be sure to check out the last two sessions of NTEN's social media and storytelling web seminars series, and then visit the We Are Media Project for details on how to make it happen. Now let's hear your philosophy!
This article was originally posted on I dig webby things...and I bet you do too at http://forums.blackbaud.com/blogs/webbythings/archive/2009/02/10/engaging-social-change-with-lessons-from-boogie-down-production.aspx by Chad Norman:
An internet marketing, social web geeking, podcasting, skateboarding, family-oriented web guy running a green nonprofit at www.GoGreenCharleston.org