A story well told is the secret to unlocking sales with social media.

Or that’s the implication of “Tell to Win” the latest book by ex-CEO of Sony Pictures, Peter Gruber on the power of stories to move people (review).

Of course, the power of stories to sell is not new news, our brains are hardwired to process and propagate information as narrative;  the biologist SJ Gould famously quipped that humans are the apes that tell stories; stories may even be the key defining trait of homo sapiens as a species.  We are “meme machines” spinning stories to spin ourselves and make sense of the world.

And in my world of psychology, research consistently shows that people typically process entertainment (narrative) and promotional (rhetorical) information differently.  We’re less critical, more attentive and more open – when information is presented in story format.  Stories are the trojan horse to the heart.

So what does this all mean for social commerce?  Simple – you want to sell with social media, then tell a story; whether it’s the story of your product, the people behind it or the people using it.

Facts stand, stories spread.

We believe that, fundamentally, the social commerce value proposition comes down to just two options – “help me” or ‘entertain me”.  Either you use social media to help people shop smarter using their social intelligence – or you wrap your ‘sell’ up in an entertaining narrative or story.

So whilst scrapbooking/curating ‘looks’ in e-commerce may be the current darling of the e-commerce world, if you wrap your sell up into a story rather than a look – you’ll be shooting for the heart.

(Thanks to Florian of Hi-Res! for the heads up on Tell to Win)