People of Earth and every remote corner of Business Utopia!
Before you venture on: I hope you have read and internalized the Cluetrain Manifesto? If not, please do and come back afterwards.
Done? Ready? OK, here we go …
This is The Storytrain Manifesto*.
Written for every company and every wannabe storyteller within and without of corporation walls.
For the benefit and peace of mind of all of us poor target groups, users and patronized recipients suffering from Corporatecommunicationitis for so many years now.
A list of essentials you might want to consider before aiming at producing your own stories.
A list that is deliberately incomplete, deliberately only a beginning!
A page that is work-in-progress, as work-in-progress as it gets. Dependent in progress on YOUR help, your ideas, your points of view, trying to bring the Cluetrain to the next level, beyond the level of post-Web 1.0 conversation education, to the core, to thesis 75, the “something interesting” we all want to hear, read and see. Trying to bring social media closer to its sole purpose, to STORY.
And if you only have time for ONE story clue this year, this is the one the swallow:
Follow the storycodeX of EXPECATION, SURPRISE and CHANGE, or your Storytrain will run off the rails.
And here’s the rest, so far at least:
- Stories are narratives.
- Narratives are change. They are non-stagnant. If nothing happens, if there’s no drama, it’s not a story. And don’t let anybody fool you otherwise.
- Every story needs a hero. A HUMAN hero whom the drama is happening to.
- BUT: A human being alone doesn’t automatically make a hero. A collection of human faces, all babbling a quote into the camera, squashed into a 4-minute mpeg, overlayed with a marlboro-man-esque voice-over and some pathetic Hollywood music … sorry, not a story, either.
- Oh and, by the way: Products cannot be heroes!
- May we introduce ourselves: We, the recipients and victims of corporate bullshit bingo since God knows when, the ones you call stakeholders and target groups, are human beings. We know a good story when we feel one – ever since the first day our parents told and read them to us.
- What we want is IDENTIFICATION. No “this is like me” effect, no emotions, no stickiness, no conversion to wherever.
- If you’re not able to arouse expectation, we will fall asleep! If we don’t want to know how your piece of communication ends, we’ll definitely not stick around to the end.
- We’re all so over-entertained and over-informed. And you’re at war, in a ruthless battle for our attention with all of these other carnival barkers out there. If you don’t manage to surprise us, we won’t listen! Or we’ll listen to someone else.
- We’re immune to corporate messages. Just forget em.
- … [PLEASE ENTER YOUR THESIS HERE!]
*FOOTNOTE: I was actually thinking of calling this “The Gluetrain Manifesto”. Thought “Now that’s a cool idea, gluetrain, story stickiness and all!” Came to me in an R.E.M. moment last weekend, I couldn’t wait to put pen to paper aka finger to keyboard. Then I did some research: Damn, looks like I’m 15 years too late with my great idea, political satirists Gene Callahan and Stu Morgenstern were quicker, launched the website gluetrain.com in 1999. Went dark in 2004, who knows why, can only be reached via the web.archive.org nowadays, but still worth a read and smirk. And since the original Cluetrain’s Doc Searls called gluetrain.com “the best Cluetrain parody ever” in his weblog (see: http://goo.gl/k2hXYo) … So, I reconsidered.
On second thought: gluetrain.com was “just” an immediate parody to the original, granted with a witty political and socio-critical angle, but not really able to take the conclusions that we are able to take today, after 15 years, after the true victory of social conversation over broadcasting and messaging. Conclusions we all are able to make today. And should!