Yes, we celebrate Martin Luther King Day every year. And still, our society puts up with unfairness and inequality every day. Lawmakers, lawyers, and judges can really do very little to change it. We tolerate misogyny, racism, and prejudice against all kinds of people. Nevertheless, we find ways to be deeply offended by the pettiest slights and the smallest injustices.
When a teacher gives a student a better grade than the student deserves, we can be outraged. If someone on television uses a racial slur, the internet lights up with anger. More than a billion people on this globe live on 23 cents a day or less. Every 16 seconds, somebody in the world dies of hunger – usually a child. But what really gets people mad is what Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber did on the news last night.
When Sheriff Bull Connor directed fire hoses and vicious dogs on innocent civil rights marchers in Birmingham back in 1963, viewers didn’t see centuries of racism, slavery, and violence. Instead, they saw one small story, one unfair and violent act. It summarized and represented the history of racism in a nutshell – in a brief moment. Two years later, the Civil Rights Act was the law of the land.
People are drawn to small stories and narratives, to something we can grasp, understand, and identify with. When you need multiple charts and graphs and studies from Harvard to get your point across, it’s going to be ignored or at best quickly forgotten.
In social media marketing, you gain one like, one follower, and one new customer at a time. Tell them stories they can relate to. Help them to focus on your message. There’s a reason so many ad campaigns use a theme like “tell us your story.” And there’s a reason so many TV commercials tell stories. Story-telling is one of the oldest – thus one of the surest – ways to communicate. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Tell them a story.