Guilty by association. We are the company we keep. If your association is the sum of your members, you need to be telling their stories first.
Their stories are an extension of your own. What people here about them will reflect on you. Here are a few things to keep in mind about telling your members’ stories:
While It’s Your Story, It Isn’t
Yes, their story is your story in that your members help make your association great. However, this does not give you license to tell their stories in an overt marketing, unauthorized biography sort of way.
Include your member in the creation and telling of the story. This gives it a more authentic feel and makes your member feel more invested in the project. Feeling a part of that creation will generally cause your member(s) to share your stories with his/her tribe more frequently than something that was created without his/her input. Also, sign-offs (on content) are not input.
Marketing to the Right Prospect
Good stories need a hook. When it comes to member stories a good hook is also a lure for potential members. Prospects read (or watch) an effective member story and it moves them in two ways:
- They want to get to know this member and/or hear more.
- They assume other members are like this person and want to be part of a group of like people.
When selecting a member story to tell you should ensure it will resonate with the sort of prospect you want to attract. For instance, if you want your association to be seen as a think tank of innovation within your industry, tell the story of a member who exemplifies those qualities.
This is not a Member Spotlight
Telling a member’s story is not the same as spotlighting their accomplishments. There must be conflict. There must be a problem that was overcome (ideally with your help). Do not list facts about your member. This creates a one dimensional image of them. You want your audience to care about the member’s story and identify with it. Highlighting a member with an abbreviated resume of accomplishments, rarely does that.
Use the Most Effective Media for the Member
Even though video is all the rage, not everyone’s story translates best into video. Some folks no matter how wonderful they are in person, seem to lack confidence, exhibit nervous tics, or come off stilted on camera and no matter how much practice they receive, their true personality doesn’t shine through.
Don’t feel like every story should be told via 2-minute video clips. Use media that works for your member. You need a variety of content types to fit the preferences of your audience so don’t feel the need to reduce everyone to one type. You’re not producing mass-written genre fiction.Finally, don’t get bogged down in the term “storytelling.” While there are some story elements necessary (such as a hook, friction, and resolution) think about what you’re doing as sharing aspects of your members’ lives, what makes them unique and amazing. Fall in love with them and use that tone when you’re writing or creating a video about them. The rest will fall into place and your audience will want to be a part of an organization that feels that way about its members.