Third Age of Consciousness of Storytelling

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Human beings have always been drawn to storytelling, and it is the soul of our communication with one another. It morphed through various ages of consciousness beginning with the cavemen who scrawled crude paintings on their walls. These stories took thousands of years to reach a wider audience.

Along came the Printing Press

The first age of storytelling consciousness was characterized by the power of dissemination in the hands of a few privileged individuals. The more refined second age of consciousness was ushered in by the invention of the Gutenberg press which expanded access to the message beyond ruling entities. The Gutenberg Bible reached a multitude of people within a century with not only nobility flipping through its pages.

The second age carried on into the late 1800’s and early 1900’s with the invention of several mass communication devices such as television. Marketing techniques developed at an unprecedented scale with brands defining trends. The choice of story sat with the organization in this age.

Farewell to Paper

It is no surprise that this age of consciousness came to a swift end at the hands of the internet. Communication has been a free-for all in the 3rd age of consciousness. We took plenty of leaps through the centuries that brought us closer to one another and made the world a much flatter place.

Who are the lords of this age of consciousness? Millennials, of course.

While in the past, communication lay in the hands of powerful individuals and organizations, today it has taken its lead from the millennial attitude—every individual and their story reigns supreme. Millennials demand access to all information and control over it to ensure their opinions are shared. An individual’s voice being heard is no longer a luxury but a commonality.

The Age of the Individual

Today, individuals tell their own stories. They no longer follow the conversations lead by big brands and companies. They have their own conversations that brands request entry to.

To reach out to these individuals, you do not feed your story or your version of stories to them. You embrace storytelling. You listen to their stories. There is no dearth of what awaits you. The opinionated generation gladly voices itself on a regular basis. The pool of tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, Snapchats, Vines and Instagram posts from which you PULL your stories is not a shallow one. Take for instance, the campaign Airbnb ran in 2014 to create one ad video.

People shared Instagram stories revolving around their favorite parts of their city. The winner was flown to London and got a free stay in an Airbnb while all the videos were curated and put together for the final 4-minute ad. It engaged people and sourced unusual content that tied into the brand’s identity.

A whole New Approach

Marketing strategies are so starkly different that brands begin their campaign creation with the consumer and the emotions they wish to imbibe them with. Social enterprise brand Thankyou donates all of the funds from their products to charity programs across the world. When you purchase a Thankyou product you can search for the serial number on their interactive map and find out where the proceeds were sent. You now have your own onus when it comes to choosing brands and ensuring the likes of Thankyou’s marketing approach thrive.

These sources provide the means to tell the audience their story. The source is your target audience. You are here to tap into their story and help them tell or enhance it. This power of the individual over media is astonishing. The Ice bucket challenge that became a global phenomenon is a prime example. These seemingly unrelated and insignificant acts across the world actually pumped millions into ALS research.

The rules of great PULL storytelling are distinct from traditional product-based communications. It’s about the consumer’s life, experience, priorities and beliefs. In effect, the brand is an ‘extra’ in someone else’s story. This enables a brand to gain a unique place in that person’s daily life.

Learn to be the Sore Thumb

The current crowded market and the variety of choice a consumer is bombarded with means a business has to obtain this unique place and in a manner that pleases the consumer. Airbnb could have merely shown the places to their consumers in the above video but seeing their cities and people like them sharing personal stories empowered viewers and in turn, created positive buzz for the company. Airbnb was not center stage but the consumer’s back-up dancer.

A great instance of one brand that worked the millennial mindset and their daily needs in their favor is Hubspot. This content marketing company has used their very own product to draw their target audience to their website. They have multiple blogs that cover various marketing topics in bright, millennial-appropriate written content. Their customers read their stories as they become more acquainted with Hubspot, and in turn the company gets the traction it needs.

Businesses that follow this approach are rewarded with an in-flow of consumers and a general positive image that results in large conversions.

Have you missed first and second age consciousness? Here it is:


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