I had the chance to attend The Art of Marketing Conference in Vancouver with some folks like Arianna Huffington, Scooter Braun and Jonah Berger. Almost every session touched on or featured ideas, science and trends around word of mouth marketing and its value (one more reason to start figuring out how to get in the social fundraising game). There were two word of mouth common traits however: Emotion and Stories.


Not a new concept to me, fundraising or nonprofits but probably the most important concept when it comes to compelling people to action. They have to feel something. They have to feel something or they won’t share. They have to feel something or they won’t sign up. They have to feel something or they won’t give. Scott Stratten and his Third Circle concept is based on evoking emotion. It can be happy, sad, angry and so on but through our communications and messages, visuals and design we have to make people feel something if they are going to be word of mouth messengers.


And what’s the best way to evoke emotion? Tell stories. Tell great stories in fact and lot’s of them. Infographics, numbers and stats are great, useful and necessary but they do not evoke emotion. Stories do. Stories about why you started the organization in the first place. Stories about your passionate staff and team doing the work. Most of all, stories of the people whose lives are changed because of your work. In addition to being great at evoking emotion, stories can also carry key messages, Jonah Berger called them “trojan horse stories”, that are easier to understand and pass on than elevator speeches and bullet points.

If you cannot evoke emotion from your audience and supporters and tell great stories, to evoke emotion and pass on key messages, then it doesn’t matter what social media channel you are on, when you post and if your website is responsive or not. That’s where you need to start, and continually get better, if you want word of mouth success for your organization.