“Stories are our primary tools of learning and teaching, the repositories of our lore and legends. They bring order into our confusing world. ”
– Edward Miller, writing coach
“Stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.”
After we launched our Mobile Growth Stories Challenge this month, I started thinking about why we launched it as a “stories” challenge instead of just a blog post challenge. When people think of sharing and convincing other of their ideas, they think of arguments based on numbers, facts, and figures. However, studies show that if you share a story, people are often more likely to be persuaded. And when data and story are used together, readers are moved both on an emotional and logical level, making your points even more powerful. When writing a story, you take the reader on a journey, moving them from one perspective to another.
But what makes a story good?
Let me tell you the beginning of our Branch story…
“It was the summer of 2013, and mobile was poised to surpass desktop as the medium where users would spend most of their time. We were four Stanford students with an idea that had already failed (a FitBit for dogs), and we saw a new medium that was engaging users by creating intimate connections in a way technology had never been able to do before. We wanted to take our shot at it. But this new mobile ecosystem was filled with perilous challenges, and making it big would not be easy…”
That’s the beginning of our journey to build Kindred and then Branch. Now compare it with:
“Branch was founded in 2013 by four Stanford students.”
The first version is more engaging because it follows some age-old storytelling techniques. The traditional story has three acts:
Think of your favorite movie or classical story. You’ll probably find that it follows this simple framework. In fact, most movies,short stories, and novels do, because it has been proven to work well in engaging an audience, while giving them a conclusion and resolution that leaves readers feeling satisfied once the story is over.
Act 1: Setup
Here is where you give background of your story and enough detail to get a reader interested in reading more. For example, if you are writing a Mobile Growth Story, here some things you might want to do in this section:
- A description of your app
- Some screenshots of how your app works
- Who uses your app and the problem your app is solving
- Some data like number of users, any awards won, important features, etc.
Act 2: Struggle
Here is where you get the reader engaged into your story. Understanding struggle is what makes stories compelling — a story without struggle is harder to believe. For a Mobile Growth Story, you could mention:
- A challenge you faced when trying to grow. For example, high customer acquisition costs, building a referral program but having a hard time to get people to share, etc.
- The bigger picture on what that challenge meant for your company
- Some solutions you tried, even if not successful
Act 3: Finale
Here is where you provide a conclusion for your readers and the main lessons learned. For a Mobile Growth Story, this could include:
- The actual feature you built or campaign you launched to solve the problem you described in act 2.
- Answer to the question of whether it worked or not
- Results and actual numbers
So as you write or tell you next story, whether it’s a story about growing your mobile app or about your latest weekend escapade, following traditional storytelling techniques will help you make your story more compelling and engaging to your audience. If you’re entering the Branch Mobile Growth Stories Challenge, I personally can’t wait to read your stories and share them with our awesome judges!