We all have a story to tell. Whether your a business with the desire to make a sale or an individual who wants to spread the message of something she cares about, knowing how to spread your story is what it all comes down to. It is a well known fact that word of mouth is the most powerful form of referral. It adds credibility to our story that we could not create on our own. Having someone else spread our story for us shows that it is not purely for self gain and there is a greater purpose.
So how do I get you to talk about me or something I feel strongly about?
To get our message spread via word of mouth means we have to get people to talk about us. To do that, we have to give people something worth talking about. What do people enjoy talking to others about the most? Something he think the other person doesn’t know about yet. A tidbit of juicy information that carries a wow factor. Borderline gossip. A piece of information that by knowing it, will potentially improve that person’s life. We have to give people authority.
If we can tailor our message so the people that know it feel like they have a new power, they will spread our message much quicker. Share “insider” information with them that makes them feel exclusive. For someone who has celiac disease, share with them the latest and greatest gluten free recipe. For the world traveler on a budget, show her a backpack that fits all her needs.
The key is that sometimes the latest and greatest gluten free recipe that you’re sharing with that audience is your recipe. Not all the time. Then it will appear to be a ploy. But if you are actually helping them and not shoving your own message/product down their throats every time, they will trust and respect you.
Real World Application
If an activist cares about spreading the message of Standing Rock, he must give people a piece of information that they did not have before his message reached them. That piece of information has to make their lives better off for knowing it. His goal is to stop that pipeline from being built. Yelling death to capitalism is not going to put a halt to construction. Even if what the activist is saying is true, doesn’t mean it is going to work. Step to their side of the table, look at what they care about, and work together. What do the decision makers of the Dakota Access Pipeline care about? If what they say is true, then it is job creation and energy independence.
Let’s reframe the activist’s approach.
The Dakota Access Pipeline costs $3.8 billion to construct. What if we took that money and instead invested in a solar or wind farm? The typical cost for a solar farm is $500,000/acre. With $3.8 billion, we could create a solar farm of 7600 acres. That would produce enough electricity for over 200,000 homes year round. With minimal maintenance, mind you, that would last relatively forever. Not just powering them for a few years, but indefinitely. So why are we investing in assets for natural resources that will not only one day be gone forever, but pollute our environment making us and the world around us unhealthy? Not only that, but we could be investing in an industry with a job market that will be stable for decades to come and create well paying jobs for Americans.
So how does the activist frame this story that he wants to spread in an easy to remember and concise manner? In such a way that people would be more inclined to discuss this topic because they feel authority in sharing it? How about, “Did you know that if we reallocated the money spent on the Dakota Access Pipeline to create solar farms, we could power over 200,000 homes indefinitely?” That’s a message I think has the potential to spread.
Share What You Know
We are in the freemium age for a reason. Give everything you know away for free. If you don’t, someone else will. They’ll earn that credibility and trust when you could have. Just because you know what I know, doesn’t mean you can do what I do. If I share everything I know with you, I give you pieces of knowledge, questions, or experiences that you can share with other people. Because as humans, we like to connect on this personal level with others.
Ever read something and get excited to share it with a specific individual because you know it aligns with their interests? That is what we’re working with here. Give people something worth spreading. Make it apart of your story that your helping others along the way. The more transparent we are with our information, the better off it makes all of us. We can push each other to new levels and make substantial progress towards the things in our lives we care most about. Instead of working towards understanding, we can work towards progress.
When we share what we know with someone who is willing to listen, both parties walk away better off. The sharer moves into a position of teaching where she must understand the topic on a deeper level. The listener gains a new piece of information that he can now apply to the world around him that the did not know when he woke up that morning. A relationship is formed. A bond is made. Trust and respect are exchanged along with what was shared. Now the listener can become a teacher to someone else who is willing to listen. And the cycle goes on.
If we approach every individual with the mindset that we have a piece of information that could help their lives and she has a piece of information that could help my life, we can grow together and spread our stories. She might not know what I know about Standing Rock and how we could reinvest that money. Now that can be a piece of information that she can spread to the next person.
Find the story you want to tell. Tell it to anyone and everyone. Sooner than later you’ll discover who is most receptive to it and how telling it differently has different affects. Then go find the people who care most and tell your story in the way that you have found most effective. Have it be part of your story that you are giving people a new found authority when they hear it. The more sharable it is, the more it will be spread.