One of my favorite new additions to the newest revisions to the Community Builder Masterclass is is all about why stories are important in community building.
The elements of a story
All stories have common elements: a plot and characters. Good plots follow an arc of conflict and resolution.
As the characters are introduced to the conflict, and work towards resolution, we start to care about the characters.
When the characters remind us of ourselves, we care more. When characters deal with a conflict that we’ve dealt with, we care the most.
Could you describe your community with a story?
This post about the science of what happens in our brains when we share and hear stories highlights why stories are measurably more valuable to our brains than bullet points of information.
And yet, when you describe you community, you often use a bullet point list of attributes or metrics: the demographics, membership size, how long you've been around, etc.
I'm guilty of this sometimes myself. We use these attributes and metrics as shortcuts in conversation, often without thinking. But the listener doesn't really end up caring, and the time together is often wasted.
Telling them a story, on the other hand, gives them a higher resolution picture of the community, and more importantly, helps them imagine themselves as a part of the community. Nobody wants to be a demographic, a tick on a membership count.
And that extra clarity isn't just for looking pretty, it serves a purpose: stories are the most powerful tool for growing membership & participation, and for engaging the part of the listeners brain that wants to see themselves as a part of the community you're describing.