Meeting planners and hospitality industry professionals tend to be a social, conversational and, yes, hospitable group of individuals. No surprise there. Most of us who are in this profession enjoy the company of others and appreciate situations and settings where we can converse with not only like-minded people, but those who hold divergent opinions.
Attend an industry event and you will likely find yourself sharing an experience or hearing a story that may ignite an idea or inspire you to act. Or consider any keynote speaker, podcast or even a song you recently listened to: In all likelihood, the foundation for that piece was based on some type of story.
Stories often leave lasting impressions on us and sometimes even change our way of thinking.
People are generally receptive to stories, especially when they are creative and delivered in a meaningful and insightful manner. Indeed, storytelling developed during the ancient ages and continues to be a part of our cultural fabric today. As a customary means of conveying a message or of reinforcing a concept, storytelling can be a very effective way of delivering a point to a reader or listener, and not necessarily in a concise or direct way.
With the advent of social media in recent years, many brands have adopted content marketing as part of their strategic brand messaging. Social storytelling has become a widely accepted and broadly practiced extension of content marketing. Rather than limiting outreach efforts to traditional advertising that presents a clear and direct message of “buy our product or service,” marketers are instead embracing the more indirect approach of “here’s why you should buy our product or service — and how someone else benefited from it. You will benefit from it, too.”
Event professionals are uniquely positioned to harness the power of this social storytelling trend. Our role and our imperative is to bring people together at a meeting. In short, we build communities around a topic or an issue. We interact on a daily basis with different people from varied backgrounds and life experiences. Our own experiences expose us to opportunities to gather stories — successes, key learnings or otherwise — and to absorb the components that result in successful message delivery.