Who are you?

And how are you trying to change the world?


This post shares some recent observations about how personal stories are becoming increasingly important in driving the success of your marketing.

I mean, we all know who Sergey Brin is and how Google is trying to organize the worlds information.

Tony Hsieh and his mission to change customer service at Zappos.

And we know Mark Zuckerberg is the face of Facebook and what hes doing trying to accomplish with the social graph. Hell, the story is so good they made a movie out of it.

I think I know more about them and what theyre up to than the people on my street!

Why do we know so much about these people and their missions?

1. We live in a world where collectively we trust corporations less and each other more.

90% of people trust recommendations from people they know. 70% trust opinions of other people they dont even know. And 14% trust advertising. Years of having their trust broken by big companies and organizations combined with the ability to forge stronger wider personal connections thanks to the social web has shifted trust from large faceless organizations to organizations that powered by real people doing amazing things to change the world.

2. People love to read about other people.


Its that simple and the proof is as close as the gossip mags in the checkout line and the reality shows on t.v. Were obsessed with each other! And its not only in the checkout line because gossip in the world of business and marketing is just as strong. If you share who you are, how youre trying to change the world and, in the Facebook era, if you can put a face to your faceless corporation we will be interested. And it works just as well " perhaps even better " on a local level than a national one because people are more likely to do business with people theyre friends with.

3. Personal stories make the abstract easier to understand.

Personal stories are easier to remember than vague mission/vision statements because they are told in chronological order and within an emotional context we can relate to. Once upon a time, Microsoft was the underdog and Bill Gates was the rebel geek up against IBM but, sadly, since he left, its become faceless and we no longer seem to be on their side. A University of Chicago study last year found that products that had Brand biographies that contained a disadvantage vs. an adversary yet passion to overcome the odds were chosen 71% of the time vs. products that contained no such story. And because personal stories are more memorable they are retold. Which, in these days of sharing content, the ability of your story to travel is a key measure of success.

So, whether youre a big enterprise or a small one, jump out from behind that facade and lets connect.


Were more interested than you think.

Bob Nunn

Bob Nunn is an Internet Marketing Consultant in Toronto and the founder of BrandMechanics. Bob has a successful track record of helping companies fine-tune their online marketing and getting their brands revved up. He has won over 40 marketing awards for his work in advertising, new media, email and more for clients such as Yellow Pages Group ‘The Find Engine’, Blockbuster ‘Guaranteed To Be There’, FutureShop ‘You’ll like what the future has in store.’ and 3M ‘Innovation’ among others.

Brand Mechanics

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8 Responses to “Who Are You? The Power of Personal Stories In A Social World”

  1. Hi Bob

    That is so true that we will put our trust in those we know more than in the "faceless" we do not! That's one of the reasons personal recommendation of a product works so well.

    I know for me in m fledgling business, my customers who have tried a product and liked it will recommend to their friends, who then have come and bought from me. That has been my off-line experience.

    On'line it is the people I have built trust with via my blog who will click over to my store and take a look. Also I have found that people like to read the "About Me" page when going to a new blog. I know I do. Like to know who I am talking to. Personal stories definitely do help in this day and age that's for sure.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Bob Nunn says:

      Hey Jacob,
      For sure it will work better for brands that already have an engaged audience e.g. Starbucks but it's also HOW you get an engaged audience in the first place. There's many examples now of smaller, previously obscure businesses who have seen their fame rocket thanks to us being able to get to know them via social sharing. Blendtec is one that comes to mind.

      We also tend to get a little myopic on channels like Facebook when many businesses have other more robust channels like email or (gasp!) old fashioned word-of-mouth.

      Make sense?

  2. Hi Bob,
    "And because personal stories are more memorable they are retold."
    Will this work for smaller brands which do not have an engaged audience as some of the bigger brands?

    Of course, a very interesting story will be retold based on its own merit and social media channels can be a great equalizer.

    However, there are a lot of elements that go into making of a very interesting story with viral potential.

    Most content does not fall into that category and an engaged audience is a prerequisite for it to be shared.

    Your thoughts?

    Thanks for the post.

  3. Karen Runtz says:

    While any good communicator knows the value of emotional context, it's something we can overlook at times. And it's not necessarily true that social media practitioners are good communicators. :-) When I saw the title of your post via a tweet I thought the "who are you" was going to be about the blurring of the boundaries between the business and the personal. That's how I started showing social media to a group of business people some time back. When I was growing up, our lives were neatly compartmentalized. It's fascinating how all that has changed. And hairy too!

    • Bob Nunn says:

      Ha! Karen that's a whole other post! And an interesting subject. Hmmmm…. I touched on it in a post I did last week on my own blog with a quote I love about the blurring from a small business social success: "People do business with people they're friends with. Period." Here's the post http://bit.ly/loyaldecl

  4. The Power of Personal Stories in a Social Media World | Search ……

    […]Bob Nunn is the Director of Social Media & Content at Search Engine People. A self-described 'brand mechanic' Bob has a successful track record of helping companies fine-tune their online marketing and getting their brands revved up. … I t…

  5. Just noticed your post through a re-tweet by Kikolani, and since I'm in the "throes" of re-designing my blog, which includes another attempt to write "about me", I checked out your post. It makes total sense to me, and I'm gonna try to write "about me" in a personal story way AGAIN (I keep getting bogged down in the details, and it gets too long and boring, and then I go for the sketchy — just the "abstract" facts.

    Everything you write here makes sense, but not knowing who you are, I jumped over to your blog to read "your story". I didn't "get" a feel for "who you are" or "your story" from your "about" page. What's up with that?

    • Bob Nunn says:

      Ha! Tom great catch. Like lots of folks in this industry I'm too busy working on client's stories to take time to refine my own. (aka The Shoemaker Syndrome) I'm actually in the middle of testing my core proposition via AdWords (a different post) before re-writing my piece. Since you've asked, perhaps we can connect and we can use each other as sounding boards to build our stories?