Posted January 22, 2014 by Devani Janssen

Marketing is rooted in storytelling. Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Whether it’s a 140-character story or a six-second one, or even one that disappears forever after 10 seconds, we need to be storytelling now!” Jonathan Gottschall describes in The Storytelling Animal that early in life we’re hardwired to consume, experience and share stories. As young children, we naturally visit Neverland, where we create alternate worlds through our imagination. He explains that adults never really stop visiting Neverland, and instead we simply travel there through different mediums such as film, music, social content and other media.


Humans’ natural desire for stories creates powerful opportunities for brands. Marketers who create storytelling content that constructs experiences for the consumer will enable their marketing messages to be more sharable and less likely to be resisted.

So how do you tell compelling stories? Unsurprisingly, there is no formula. Consuming content from epic storytellers is a great place to start and frequently revisit in order to gather ideas and insights. Here are 10 places to absorb amazing stories and find inspiration for your own marketing efforts.

1. Shots of Awe

Jason Silva’s mentally immersive video experiences produce shots of awe for the mind. His stories disrupt your emotional state, guiding your brain through considerations of abstract and inspiring philosophies of the human condition.

2. The Stanford Storytelling Project

The Stanford Storytelling Project was created to explore how stories guide our education and understanding of human experiences. Their radio show has hosted over 400 conversations with storytellers discussing different aspects of “how humans live in and through stories and how we can use them to change our lives”.

3. Medium

Medium democratizes good ideas and stories by allowing anybody to share a post to their public collections, which are groups of posts with related content. Newest posts automatically get displayed at the top, giving anybody a chance to get exposure, and often very high exposure depending on the number of views and recommendations from other readers.

4. Ted Talks

TED is a nonprofit dedicated to sharing ideas worth spreading. Influential leaders and experts from around the world give 18-minute speeches called Ted Talks, where they share their stories and experiences and promote big ideas to a global audience.

5. NPR

NPR thrives on sharing meaningful stories and is fueled by the passion of the people that tell them. Their rigorous reporting and surprising and informative content is meant to open eyes, bring awareness, and get conversations ignited around topics that matter.

6. Foundation

Kevin Rose’s Foundation interviews are conversations with entrepreneurs and industry leaders who share their story through their successes, failures and everything in between. Kevin leads the conversation through timely questions that, for me, are seemingly in my head already.

7. Brain Pickings

Stories from Brain Pickings exist in many forms, from blog posts to interviews to artwork. Their goal as a media platform is to share content that you didn’t know you were looking for, a familiar challenge for marketers.

8. Information is Beautiful

It’s innovative, visual-centric storytelling. Started by David McCandless, Information is Beautiful aims to take the world’s data and express it in useful, interesting and visual ways.

9. Vice

If you’re looking for honest and real, look to Vice for inspiration. Their journalists travel to some of the dirtiest, most dangerous and surprising places on Earth to get the stories straight from their origin. Their sensors are nonexistent, making them a leader when it comes to the future of stories and transparency.

10. Pinterest

I included Pinterest on this list because it’s a platform for dreamers. Many people go to Pinterest to compile lists of things that they’re dreaming of having or planning to have or do one day. It’s an inside look into the desires of people who are publicly displaying their would-be ideal story.

Who else tells great stories?

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc

About Devani Janssen

Devani Janssen is the community development and social media manager at SmartShoot. She loves startups and working on her Instagram palette. For more thoughts on social and how the world works, sail with her on Twitter.

Keep in touch: @thoughtsailor

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