Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Stories

Do stories of personal experience help drive change

Great social movements often have one thing in common: they are created by people with the courage to talk openly about their lives and experiences.

Women have sparked movements to end street harassment, generating new public dialogue about safety and respect. Autistic people have formed communities to embrace their identity and push for better understanding of neurodiversity.

Formerly incarcerated men talk about their past crimes with the hope of shifting systems away from punishment and towards rehabilitation.

Patsy Z shared this link TED, September 24, 2015
Aspen Baker explains why the key to dealing with sensitive issues is to allow those with direct experience to feel heard.

This isn’t what happened with abortion.

The movement to liberalize abortion laws in the United States was led by people who cared about helping women get safe abortions, but those who had actually had abortions were rarely at the forefront. In the meantime, polarizing political debates, violence, social stigma and the desire for privacy have pushed women who have abortions even further to the margins.

It’s time to change course and insist that all sides do more listening to the women who have had abortions — and their loved ones. Their experiences must take center stage in these public conversations — and that’s going to require us all to learn how to listen without judgment.

When I started talking about my abortion 15 years ago, I was told that my voice didn’t matter.

One major barrier to listening to someone telling a stigmatized story, like abortion, is that often the person with a real, first-hand personal experience is seen as someone who needs to be fixed or saved — even by their own advocates.

As for being smart, capable, wise or a leader to be followed? Forget about it. “She’s had an abortion so she must need my protection,” the thinking goes. “She’s so oppressed, she doesn’t need the burden of leading, too.”

When I started talking about my abortion 15 years ago, I was told that my voice didn’t matter. I was a 24-year old bartender from Southern California who grew up pro-life, and I had a lot of mixed emotions about my situation.

Politically, abortion was portrayed as a simple black and white issue, where women could feel either relief or regret, a dialogue characterized by an “are you with us or against us?” battlefield stance. My story didn’t fit neatly into one side or the other, so people tried to ignore it and ignore me.

We need to see the people who have lived through a particular experience as the expert on their issue.

I’m not alone, and abortion isn’t the only issue where this type of sidelining happens. A friend of mine, Susan, runs a program that supports battered women and their families. Yet when she revealed to her colleagues that she was in an abusive relationship, she was advised that she should leave the field. According to them, her own experience with domestic violence prevented her from helping others.

Then there’s my friend Sabrina, an award-winning leader in technology and media. When she accepted a top position at an organization to help recruit more people of color, she did so because as a black woman she knows the kind of barriers that often keep people like her out of influential positions. Except, once she started dismantling those barriers, the white men who had put them in place there told her she was doing it the wrong way and publicly derided her efforts.

These responses are upside down and back-to-front. We need to see the people who have lived through a particular experience as the expert on their issue. No one is smarter about domestic violence than someone who’s experienced it, just as no one is smarter about inclusiveness than a black woman who’s worked her way to the top. No one is smarter about the experience of abortion than someone who has actually had one.

We need to think about how to give power to those who have faced stigma to take leadership on those same issues; to think about how to help them help others in situations that have affected them so significantly. Otherwise, the people who talk the most and make the decisions will too often be people without first-hand experience of the topic.

Like Bill Clinton (who changed his stance on abortion once he entered the White House), Mitt Romney (who changed his mind — the other way — when he ran for President) or even Donald Trump, who has also flipped from being pro-choice to pro-life.

In private, women say more — a lot more — about their abortions than they do in public.

Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but I can’t help but imagine how different the abortion conversation would be if the women who had had abortions were leading the charge for change. Would groups of women talking about what they went through really draw a battle line between those who felt relief and those who felt regret?

Would they avoid talking about the fetus and what happens to it after an abortion? Of course not. In private, women say more — a lot more — about their abortions than they do in public. Without the unique wisdom and insight of people who really know what it’s like, everyone suffers from a lack of understanding and awareness.

Other women who may have their own abortions one day, friends and family are left not knowing what to say or how best to provide support to a loved one having an abortion. And without women’s voices and leadership, politicians are left with no alternative but to operate in a vacuum without the knowledge that comes from real life experiences.

This gap, the gap between what gets said in private and what gets debated in politics, provides a unique opportunity for deep, transformational change. It’s also a problem that we can help to solve.

Instead of speaking on behalf of a woman hidden by stigma or conflict, take a stand by bearing witness; by creating the space where she can finally be heard.

Aspen Baker

Featured illustration by Hannah K. Lee/TED.

Why Snapchat Builds a Killer Loyal Audience

The platform is for everyone.

Snapchat is now more popular than Facebook for under 24s.

Posted By Stacey Roberts 4th of August 2016

I know – it’s just for kids, isn’t it? Or perhaps for adults, but in a rude way that’s definitely not suitable for work…

That’s what I thought about Snapchat, so I didn’t give it a second thought. That is, until around 6 months ago, when I first found out about Stories. I mean the Snapchat kind, not just telling a tale. I’m not quite that out of touch…

Since then, I’ve been experimenting with the platform in every way possible. And, do you know what? It’s for everyone!

For the first time since Facebook became the dominant social medium, it’s been unseated in popularity. Snapchat is now more popular than Facebook for under 24s.

The thing is, not only is there a huge audience there, but it has the potential to engage at a higher level than almost anything else.

You can build trust, loyalty and fanatical fans, and all of that is great news for your content. Loyal fans are regular readers and prolific sharers after all.

So, how does it work? If you’re under 24, you probably don’t need me to tell you. But if you’re an ancient 30-something, like me, let’s take a look…

What’s Snapchat Good At?

In a lot of ways, Snapchat has really similar benefits to my own favourite subject: Podcasting.

I see the power of podcasting as honest engagement multiplied by attention. You project your honest, transparent personality through the airwaves, listeners engage with that and, because of the context (consume alongside other activities), they listen for a long, long time. This builds trust and loyalty, which naturally encourages them to read your content on a regular basis.

Snapchat is similar, to me, in two ways.

The Transparent Life

First, it does transparency so well. This is honest storytelling at its best. You can watch filmstars snapping about driving their kids to school, or business tycoons showing off their favourite little Italian restaurant. You get a real insight into their lives.

Similar to podcasting, that polarises people. But, it creates rabid fans.

Some people won’t like you, but others will LOVE you. Personality, honesty, transparency creates that divide, but that’s exactly what you want. So much better than a chorus of “Meh….”

Filling the Wasted Minutes of Life

Second, while Podcasting caters for the long haul – hour long shows are the norm – Snapchat caters to the tiny wasted minutes in your life.

If you watch anyone using Snapchat, it’s all **flick flick flick** rapidly through the app. When Snapchat users have a minute of boredom, waiting in a queue, they’ll immediately pull out a phone and flick through some stories. Clips are 15 seconds or less, so you can fire through them. As a result, people check in A LOT.

This is, again, a multiplication effect.

While podcasting has honest engagement x long attention, Snapchat has honest engagement x extremely frequent attention. And the best thing is, because it’s so easy to create Snapchat content, you can keep up, releasing equally frequent updates.

So, ready to give it a try? Well, here’s some things that I’ve found are working for me in growing that loyal audience.

Before you Start Growing, Start Showing (The Love!)

This goes for almost any medium, but even more so for Snapchat. Take care of the audience you already have first. Show them some love. There are a couple of good reasons for this.

First – and pretty obviously – if you want to guide followers from Snapchat to your blog, you need their trust. That requires really nurturing the relationship, building engagement along the way. It’s often easy to get lost in the race to find new followers and forget the reason you’re looking for an audience in the first place.

Second, looking now at growth, Snapchat is a word-of-mouth medium.

There’s no directory in the app, no search-by-interest, so your existing audience is one of your best sources of new followers. This, again, is something that’s based on trust, on building proper relationships with those that follow you. Once they trust you, once they’re fans of your work, THEN they’ll refer you to their own audience.

So, how do we build that relationship?

Question the People!

Every time someone follows you, you’ve got a golden opportunity to get talking. When you see that yellow-backed ghost at the top that signifies a follow, just click into the ‘Added me’ list and follow them back. Then pop over to your Chat window and refresh it. You’ll see those new followers at the top of the list, all signified by a cute little ‘new follower’ baby emoji.

It’s easy to send a quick: “Hey, thanks for following me! I’m interested to know, what’s keeping you busy right now?” Record it as a video, and send it to all of your new followers at the same time. It takes about 30 seconds in total once you’ve practised the process.

I’ve had some amazing responses to that, and it’s started many a conversation that’s led to far more than just a new fan. Talking of which…

Take it Over

A great way to build further trust and credibility is to ask your current followers to shout you out.

Do it for a few of them in your story, and you’ll soon find them reciprocating. Or, just make the ask: “Hey, if you enjoy my story, I’d love it if you could shout out my snapcode on your channel.” If you’re doing good content, that works surprisingly well.

Of course, not only does this build trust, but it grows your following at a rapid rate.

But, the next level is a full takeover.

A Snapchat takeover is when someone sends over their login details, and you contribute directly to their story for a set time. It’s brilliant fun! You get to speak to a new audience, show them a bit of what you do, and hopefully gain a good percentage of their followers as a result.

You can do this as a swap with people that you follow yourself, people that you know have their own engaged audience. If your niche overlaps in any way, then the results can be fantastic.

Show Them Off

I have one final tip that not only builds loyalty, but makes for more engaging stories. It’s a method that’s emerged thanks to the new Snapchat Memories feature.

Memories is a big move by Snapchat to move away from it’s historic ‘time limited’ approach.

In the past, the fact that images and videos only hang around for a short time has been a big USP for Snapchat. But, there’s no doubt that’s also held back wider use by businesses or even casual users that want to store their creations.

Memories changes everything. You can now store and reuse snaps much more easily. Most importantly, it allows you to insert external images into your story; something that has never been possible before.

This is a huge audience engagement opportunity, because it means that you can share your community’s responses.

Say you run a contest, asking your readers to show how they’re enjoying the current heatwave. You can share the best responses back out to your story, allowing the community to get to know each other. This is really powerful, showing a lot of love to those winners, and encouraging others to get more involved.

Start Engaging

I know a lot of you are still on the fence. Snapchat comes with a LOT of baggage, but the traction they’ve achieved is undeniable.

For what it’s worth, I’ve seen more engagement, more loyalty and more feedback on my content through Snapchat than ANY other social platform so far. If you want a demo of what it can do, and how I go about it, I’d love you to follow me over there.

Whatever you do, though, at least download the app and start experimenting. Keep it private initially, just a friend or two, but get to know the platform. Once you see what’s going on in there, I’d wager you’ll be hooked!

Colin Gray has been helping people to podcast, and combine it with their wider content, for nearly 10 years. He does it through courses and services at The Podcast Host, and via the Podcraft Podcast. He’s always happy to answer podcasting questions on Twitter or Snapchat, so get in touch!

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama.
Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagramand Snapchat, listen to her 90s pop culture podcast, or be entertained on Facebook.




June 2023

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