John Steinbeck famously said, “We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say—and to feel— ‘Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.’” Steinbeck was speaking to the power of stories and storytelling to connect one person to another. A good story can evoke emotion and inspire action. In Steinbeck’s case, Grapes of Wrath illuminated the plight of the poor in America like none other before.
At Public, we’ve been reflecting on the power of storytelling after a great session with a friend-of-Public Candice Faktor, General Manager of Wattpad and Aron Levitz, Wattpad’s head of business development. Wattpad is a Toronto-based storytelling and story-sharing platform.
In no uncertain terms, Wattpad is changing the way people tell and share stories. Yes, storytelling is an ancient and universal act – but Wattpad is a 21st Century app applied to the form. And they are going gangbusters. Wattpad’s numbers are amazing: upwards of 25,000,000 unique visitors a month, “time-on-app” is over 3 hours per month (compared to 21 minutes per month for Twitter) and their users spend 4.3 billion (with a “B”) minutes per month on the site – 80 percent of which are minutes spent on mobile devices.
Public’s own experience making storytelling and story sharing the cornerstone of successful public engagement campaigns – including Fearless (Canadian Cancer Society), Draw the Line (Ontario Women’s Directorate, Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, AOcVF) and Call BS (Partners for Mental Health) – makes thinking about the power of Wattpad even more intriguing.
What we’re thinking about at Public is how we can use this powerful new medium – Wattpad – to create social change and public good in the future. Like Steinbeck, we understand the power of storytelling and that adding Wattpad’s powerful platform into our work could create incredible change. We look forward to being part of that.