2017 Trend Report Launch: Think Beyond Content. We officially launched our latest trend report – Think Beyond Content – out into the ether with a keynote at MagNet (North America’s largest gathering of magazine media stakeholders). Our newest report explores a cacophony of examples that showcase how brands are not only thinking of a world beyond simply building content, but are also focusing on how partnerships, technology, transparency and building engaged communities are essential.
So how did humans evolve as the content and storytelling machines we are today? I’ve been taking a deep dive into our evolution with Yuval Noah Harari’s book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. A fascinating read that sheds an enthralling light on our growth as storytellers. Some 70,000 years ago our Cognitive Revolution began, and with it came the emergence of ‘fictive language’ (aka storytelling). Many animals can “communicate” and do so very well (in comparatively smaller groups), but not with such a “supple” language as ours – we Sapiens use description, nuance, suggestion and subtlety to convey what we need to, and this allows us to promote our collective advantages by forming larger and larger communities of individuals who all feel we have a common purpose, goal or philosophy. Legends, myths and religions all appeared for the first time within our Cognitive Revolution (and as Sapiens, Noah reminds us, “we can speak about six things that don’t actually exist before breakfast”). Modern day animals (and early humans) are/were able to effectively convey: “Watch out. A lion!” to forewarn each other of impending danger. Yet with the coming of the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have developed the amazing ability to convey: “The lion is the guardian spirit of our tribe.” This fundamental difference is what truly sets us apart.
Moreover, it turns out that we Sapiens are massive ‘gossips’ – in fact, our language evolved as a way of gossiping and this kind of social cooperation is essential to our survival and reproduction – Noah reminds us that early Sapiens knew the whereabouts of the bison, BUT ALSO who hates whom, who is honest, who is a cheat and who has certain skills in our tribe. Because we can share these key survival details effectively, gossip has helped us Sapiens “to form larger and more stable bands, growing beyond groups of 150 members” to form large cities, communities, movements, collectives, ambassadors, groups.
Why is this important for businesses to understand? Telling effective stories is far from easy. The difficulty lies not in telling the story, but in convincing others to buy in and believe. Much of history revolves around this question. How does one convince millions of people to believe particular stories about gods, ideas, nations… and even brands? Yet, when we succeed in our storytelling, it gives us immense power because millions of us (often complete strangers) are able to cooperate and work towards a common goal.
So click on the link below, download our latest trend report, and immerse yourself in the ever-evolving modern multiverse of truly forward-thinking and engaging content avenues…
Michael Chase, CMO
St. Joseph Communications