Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

[EMPLOYEE ADVOCACY] How to get employees to share stories without feeling like braggarts 

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Some people don’t share any of their authentic stories – good and bad – and they have reasons for that. 

Good stories – they don’t want to come off as bragging about themselves. 

Not so good stories – they are embarrassed and don’t want to feel vulnerable publicly. 

These are valid reasons and we should be accepting of other people’s opinions and feelings. 
But that doesn’t help organizations who are trying to instill a culture of storytelling. Some of these initiatives are led by HR, some are led by marketing, others by the social media team. The strongest projects are the ones that include all relevant stakeholders from all those departments. 

Related: What’s a culture of storytelling?

Storytelling cultures break down silos. That doesn’t mean we have added layers and layers of approvals. That would be approval hell and would hurt usually. But it means departments work together, are bought in and are pushing toward a shared goal. 

Related: What’s approval hell? 

But getting people to share their own stories can be a challenge. Hardly anyone wants to be known for bragging or being a show off. It’s a mindset. I once had somebody ask me to teach them how to be good at self promotion. 
“Do you mean to learn how to share your authentic stories?”

“Yeah, yeah. Sure. Self promotion through my stories.”

And in this case, that person was even an advocate of authentic storytelling. Whatever we call it, sharing our stories can be very meaningful and helpful, especially through employee advocacy. It can help us recruit the best and then retain them.

So when people don’t want to participate by sharing their own stories, don’t give up. Instead reframe what people should share. Encourage employees to recognize other employees and their success stories. 

Ask them to submit the stories or if they want to share them themselves on social media. Fair warning, though: Whenever we share other people’s stories we should get their permission BEFORE it’s shared publicly. 

Sometimes those employees might say: “Oh no, I don’t need the recognition.”

Tell them that their story makes you feel great and that you are proud to share it for that reason and to help the organization shape that culture of storytelling.

From my experience, when these points are meant most everyone is very willing to let somebody else share their stories. Somebody else sharing our stories is never bragging. It’s recognition. 

Sometimes you don’t even have to reward employees for recognizing other employees. When they mean and feel it they’ll likely do it because they want to. 

Remember that these stories should show why people are being publicly recognized. Stories that only tell (but not show) what happened that is worth sharing can get readers to tune out quickly. 

Paint a picture with your words of how awesome the stories inside your organization are. It makes everyone feel better and more connected and helps build your community further. 

Related: Great stories paint pictures with words 

Disclaimers: The information provided in articles is for informational purposes only and not personalized advice. It's accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time it's published. Enjoy and best of luck telling the best stories in your organization and life!

Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I’m Christoph Trappe.

I’ve written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs.

If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I’m always happy to chat!

Thanks for reading!

– Christoph

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