Storytelling according to “LikeWar: The Weaponisation of Social Media”

Good storytelling is important

1. The human brain was never equipped to operate in an information environment that moves at the speed of light. On the internet, virality is inseparable from reality.

2. When we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts.

Building blocks

Narratives are the building blocks that explain both how humans see the world and how they exist in large groups. They provide the lens through which we perceive ourselves, others, and the environment around us.


They are the stories that bind the small to the large, connecting personal experience to some bigger notion of how the world works. The stronger a narrative is, the more likely it is to be retained and remembered.

The human mind

Human minds are wired to seek and create a narrative. Every moment of the day, our brains are analysing new events, a kind word from our boss, a horrible tweet from a faraway war and binding them into thousands of different narratives already stowed in our memories. This process is subconscious and unavoidable. By simplifying complex realities, good narratives can slot into other people’s preexisting comprehension.

The rules

1. Picture

The first rule is simplicity. This explains why so many modern narratives exist at least partially in images. Pictures are not just worth the proverbial thousand words; they deliver the point quickly.

2. Resonate

The second rule of narrative is resonance. Nearly all effective narratives conform to what social scientists call “frames,” products of particular language and culture that feel instantly and deeply familiar.  A resonant narrative is one that fits neatly into our preexisting storylines by allowing us to see ourselves clearly in solidarity with—or opposition to—its actors. Social media can prove irresistible in this process by allowing us to join in the narrative, with the world watching.

3. Novelty

The third and final rule of narrative is novelty. Just as narrative frames help build resonance, they also serve to make things predictable. Too much predictability, though, can be boring, especially in an age of microscopic attention spans and unlimited entertainment. The most effective storytellers tweak, subvert, or “break” a frame, playing with an audience’s expectations to command new levels of attention.


The big losers in this narrative battle are those people or institutions that are too big, too slow, or too hesitant to weave such stories.


Amusement, shock, and outrage determine how quickly and how far a given piece of information will spread through a social network. Or, in simpler terms, content that can be labelled “LOL,” “OMG,” or “WTF.” These are the sorts of feelings that create arousal, where the heart beats faster and the body surges with fresh energy. The stronger the emotions involved, the likelier something is to go viral. The scientists dubbed this an “emotional contagion,” the spread of emotions through social networks that resembled nothing so much as the transmission of a virus.

Storytelling is (Soci0)biology.

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Hi, my name is Ron Immink, I am a business coach, author and speaker, working with companies to improve their future prospects and improve their business models.
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