Empathy through storytelling is crucial to building brand trust

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 31 May 2016
Simon Kemp (right) and Chris Monk on stage at the Data Driven Storytelling session.

Storytelling has fast become a buzzword in the industry, but advertisers and brands haven’t cracked the code on how to tell their stories in an authentic way that consumers trust.

Speaking at a Vivid Ideas event on data driven storytelling this morning, We Are Social marketing strategist Simon Kemp said being able to appeal to a person’s empathy through storytelling is crucial to building trust.

“The ability to tap drive empathy means we can start to build trust and trust is what any brand, business or advertiser needs to be successful,” Kemp said.

“Facts alone don’t rouse any reaction inside [viewers]. It’s how they work with emotions to create stories that move and connect with [viewers].”

Kemp explained the right creative can evoke emotional responses in people’s sensory cortex, including the hormones in ones brain such as dopamine and cortisol.

“Stories involve viewers as active participants rather than passive spectators,” Kemp said. “As a result stories can change the chemistry of our brains, influencing behaviours and personalities.”

Head of strategy at technology educator company Decoded, Chris Monk, also spoke at the session on how data visualisation is necessary to create effective storytelling in advertising. 

He conducted a study on the hashtag #love and #hate on Instagram to determine the behaviour behind the most popular pictures on the social media platform.

Monk used machine learning to analyse Instagram’s API to determine insights from the data, including reach, the time the hashtags were used the most, popularity and items in the images.

He also analysed the data himself to identify if the manual or data-driven approach was more effective.

The machine-learning analysis revealed irrelevant insights into the data, as it does not have the capability to understand emotion and empathy. This revealed stories may be driven by data, but humans are essential for effective storytelling.

“The machine can’t do it on it’s own, but compared to the process I went through manually, I was able to collect so much more stimulus through the data collected approach than I would have been able to collect manually,” Monk said.

“It revealed insights and stories that I could then explore. But what it lacks is empathy and emotions and that’s what makes stories.”

You can see the study here.

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