STORYTELLING is a CRAFT...you have to have a PASSION for capturing, telling, and sharing stories. This blog is dedicated to that craft. What is your story? We are listening.
Love this quote from Gary V:
“I am only interested in one thing…the thing that binds us all together…always and forever our job is to tell our story…”
“The way you make real money…the way you make real impact…the way things get changed is by great storytelling…it has always been that way and it will always be that way…because i do not know if you guys heard and we are f&cking human beings and that is what we like.”
In that same thought…love this from the Brains on Fire blog post from 2009
“The fanstastic thing is that there are fundamental principals of being a human that will never change. One of which is that we are social beings. And we crave interaction. More so face-to-face than online. I really believe that is something that will never change. Because the technology might advance, but us being humans won’t.”
Telling great stories are like pealing back an onion…one layer at a time. A great story is one that connects those layers bringing texture to the experience…raising the hairs on the back of your neck.
How can we help you find great stories? Let us know!
Anyone have any thoughts? Hmm…so I have been thinking about this for a bit! What is the DNA of a “good” storyteller?
Hmm…well my first thought: they create great content. Yeah…so what is great content and how can we equate great content with a great storyteller?
In the world of digital communications…how do we create content that is sticky and feels connected.
I read a great little blog post by Holly Potter and it has me thinking just a bit…here is an excerpt:
“More and more we’re hearing that “content is king,” “content is the new social currency,” and “content is the center of communications.” What is content? To us, it’s a great story, a memorable message or a shared experience. We want to help craft these stories in an authentic and compelling way, and we want to share them with the world. The only difference with telling brand stories today versus five or even two years ago is that these stories can now be multidimensional with, images, videos, animation, infographics and editorial. Change in the media medium is inevitable and attention spans may be depleting, but the value of good storytelling stays the same.”
We can write for SEO, we can create beautiful graphics, we can do all the things that make budgets look good…
BUT…inspiring people to write and share passionately is HARD. So here is the question…how do we inspire people to tell their story and what does that look like, feel like, sound like?
Here is my response to Holly:
To tell great stories, create great content, empower a great community, can we then begin leveraging that community in this “marketing” arena? This is what brings “value” to the storytelling initiative in the digital space…the great blend between storytelling and marketing. The fun part is finding/balancing the ethical tension between community building and marketing.
So who are the really good storytellers in this digital arena? Those who know how to create great content, yet market that content to generate a marketable result?
*BTW…I “stole” the image above from Holly’s blog and altered it a bit.
Have you thought through this before? When I asked a group of healthcare communication professionals to define content and “good” content…we recorded some interesting feedback.
So here are my thoughts:
Good Content – From 30K Feet
1) Creates the connected theater – How can we create an interactive experience so audience forgets they are watching and listening…yet feeling (movie theater analogy)?
2) Creates a connected voice – We can identify we each other…we speak the same language.
3) Provides texture – We see/hear it, we understand the mission and it is repeatable/shareable message, making the hairs on the back of our necks stand-up.
Good Content – Tactical Level
1) Stories, pictures, video, words, information, and facts
2) It is content that brings texture to the voice of the organization/brand
3) It is an integrated approach to communication across all channels
Good Content – Framework
1) Identify good content
2) Capture then craft each message for the appropriate medium
3) Engage content for interaction & connectivity (bring them back to the campaign mothership)
4) Create a relatable experience to build community
5) Leverage content and community for action
6) Provide a relatable experience so brand advocates share repeatable message
People want to find media that they can identify…content that makes sense in their lives. As I think through this lens…I have been reshaping my opinions when it comes to the value of video production.
I love big cameras, pretty pictures, the HD experience…etc. But, is all this necessary in our world of social content? Is multi-purposing content from that video shoot with the Red Camera necessary?
Have you watched American Idol this season? It is a new face with the addition of Harry Connick, Jr…a new tone and lots more stories. Did you also notice the production value of the video content being used. Lots more user-based content captured using mobile devices. The opening of American Idol has leveraged contestant video content from their mobile devices as a major part of the opening sequences.
Have you also noticed camera angles focusing on faces, isolating shots that make you feel closer to the contestant, visually connecting the audience to the potential storyline?
Production value has so much to do with visual delivery setting tone, visual appeal, ethic, mood…etc.
Think about the last video shoot you have been a part of recently.
- Did you have beautiful lighting? Did the interview subject look off-camera slightly?
- Was the lighting focused on the person and less on the background, creating complete visual interest on the subject?
- Was the person highlighted with lighting or the fact they used professional lighting highlight?
- Was the background behind the subject visually engaging or created barriers to the conversation?
In the social world…I have began to recognize the value of advising groups to create content specifically for the medium. There is a time and place for each style of production. There is value for that high-end video shoot with great lighting, great sound quality, great camera angles. There is also value in creating an experience that generates an approachable conversation.
Let’s take a video interview with a physician based on a topical item like flu shots or even something cancer related. Do you need high-end lighting, great microphones, an appropriate clinical background. Think about the from the audience’s perspective. When they go talk to a physician in their office, do they carry a light kit and a microphone? Do they have these “tools” & “strategies” when asking this physician about cancer or that flu shot when sitting or standing across them in their office?
The point here…sometimes it is better to reduce the production enhancement and make the situation feel relevant in our day-to-day lives…visually relevant.
Google+ Hangouts (web video calls) are helping us think through these opportunities. Setting up situations visually where the person seems approachable. Think about a Google+ Hangout. You feel like you are talking directly to a person.
Here is my point. Should the physician look off-camera interview style or right at the camera. This simple visual cue is huge for the audience. Remember…a conversation is not a question by question interview…it is a conversation.
There are specific ways to make a Google+ Hangout a little more approachable than the look of a webcam and a microphone/earpiece hanging from the person on the other side of the camera. Camera and streaming technology has increased where the image looks nice.
Here is my point…creating social content has everything to do with visual cues. Sometimes that $50K video shoot just does not translate into content meant for certain social media contexts.
As we ooh’d and ahh’d over this touching little puppy ad by Budweiser in the 4th quarter of the SuperBowl…we have forgotten.
Budweiser…as always, knows how to create a tremendous ad narrative throughout big events like the SuperBowl. Sprinkling little story-lines in short little commercials that have nothing to do with beer. These little micro-narratives have everything to do with being “American.”
As soon as it was played, “Puppy Love” was deemed the ad of the night. The image above started floating all around the Twitterverse with immediate “puppy love” from the online community. There is just so much that is American about a dog, a horse, a ranch, and this connection of friendship.
But what about that ad that played just an hour before called “A Hero’s Welcome” by Budweiser. It was a play-by-play of a Lt. Chuck Nadd coming home to a big ole welcome party. There is so much American about a soldier serving his country, coming home to welcome party…Budweiser style.
Then, after the ad…they Fox Superbowl coverage cuts directly to Lt. Chuck Nadd and his wife siting in the stands watching the game. This image was hard to find online. I almost had to make my DVR go back to this moment during the game so I could get a shot.
This image is the image of great American love. A soldier, after returning home, sitting with his wife, enjoying a great American past time.
So what is the connectivity between “Puppy Love” and “A Hero’s Welcome”? Both follow the content stream of great things that make us feel American. But nothing really connects these storylines. If anything…”Puppy Love” makes us forget for a few minutes what really makes us American. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy, and even makes the women in the room go…”ahhh…cute”.
But since the “Puppy Love” commercial ran close to the end of the game…did we forget about “A Hero’s Welcome”?
Disconnected narratives can make us forget themes and story-lines that might be the real nugget of this American fabric. Yes…Budweiser is in the business of selling beer. And we will remember Budweiser because we were reminded over and over. But do they really need us to remember Budweiser the next time in the grocery store?
Imagine if Budweiser found a way to create a narrative throughout all their ads that helped us remember the sum of all parts…instead of just one little cute shot of a puppy and a horse. Imagine a connected storyline that could create a progression of this soilder’s story…one that made you wait for the next little chapter.
Too bad all the Monday morning coffee talk will be about a little puppy…the soldier’s story was much more touching.
2013 was the year of the social share…people using their digital and social spaces to share stories, information, and content they love the most. Big brands, politicians, special interest groups, and numerous other entities leveraged the online passion of loyal brand advocates capitalizing on the digital word-of-mouth. Why? They want to capture your data.
Yes…big data is the wave of the content marketers’ future, capturing more than just your contact information…but your clicking patterns and social share tendencies. They want to leverage your digital presence to focus more “relevant content” into your digital life…capitalizing on your purchasing habits.
Yes…this is the perfect case study showcasing the power of the social share, digital pr, a mega-brand powerhouse, and the social share. Once the GQ article with Phil Robertson’s interview was released, a social conversation firehose was released. Polarizing conversations erupted creating digital clicks and crazy conversation beyond the context of the original article. All for ratings…Yes. The social influence and digital clicks will ultimately create large ratings for the January 15th season-five premier. To read more about this case-study…CLICK HERE.
So…are we overloaded with too much conversation? Are people/brands sharing links in your newsfeed that drive you nuts? Are people sending you links to elicit polarizing conversation? Based on my research at Clemson as a graduate student, we know that people are much more willing to engage in controversial conversation online than in-person discussion. The screen and the keyboard creates a comfortable buffer to share thoughts normally not expressed during an in-person conversation/discussion.
Time to Streamline
1) Trim your online friends
Yes…get rid of those people that your conscious is making your question whether they are in or out. If they do not bring value to your life or your digital brand…give them the ax!
2) Think before you “Like”, “Share”, “ReTweet”, 1+, or post in your social outlets.
Your online spaces are your digital brand. People take this as your gospel, your truth…so use those filters.
3) Un-Like, Un-Follow, Un-Subscribe
Get rid of the brands in your social spaces that drive your nuts, cause un-wanted stress, or do not share content that bring value to your life.
4) Do Not Click or Like
Quit clicking links, pictures, and videos in your newsfeed that you disagree with personally and professionally. They are put there to elicit an emotion, which ultimately makes you want to click and comment.
Perfect example are outlets like Tigernet.com. They post links on their social outlets specifically to drive clicks without providing content. Why…so they can provide their advertisers click-thru reports showing impressions and traffic.
If you look at the image below, you will see the status update with most of the comments talking about no content after they clicked. They achieved their goal, every-time someone “Likes”…it shows up in their newsfeed spreading their digital brand. They are all about clicks not building a strong social community.
5) Define the purpose of each social/digital space you own
Yes…if you have a Facebook account or page, define the purpose behind the use of this page. Spend some time thinking about your audience and what you will share in this space.
Define Your Story
Your social space is your story. This is the storyline that showcases your digital habits. As you think through that lens, it will help you define what you click, share, and conversations you engage.
Think about it…if you clean out the brands you follow that do not bring value to your life; and become more engaged with the brands you truly love…your online spaces become a more inviting experience. Plus…this provides better data for brand outlets that truly want to see which followers are truly engaged.
I had the pleasure to meet the first female professor at Furman University. What a great story! She has accomplished so much here in Greenville and at Furman University.
“Laura Thompson doesn’t walk from her office to the classroom, she dashes. In conversations, her train of thought jumps the tracks, careening from one topic of interest to another. When she says she wakes at 6 eager for another day of work, you believe her.
“They probably think I’m the crazy old plant woman,” she says. “But my goal is for students to leave Furman with a good idea of how important plants are to people.”
Thompson has taught biology at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., since 1987. When she was hired, she was her department’s first female tenure-track professor.
“She was such an infusion of infectious energy and enthusiasm, it was like a huge breath of fresh air for me,” says former student Kimberly Chappell. “She was the first real tangible example I had of what a successful woman trained in the sciences looked like.”
To read the whole story, CLICK HERE.
It is possible…it is possible to measure success. I have been surrounded by groups that want to bring a visual context to their story. They enlist me to help find and tell those rich elements creating a meaningful story.
The idea of storytelling has become such a passé term. Each day I receive an email, see a pr strategy, get a insert in the my home mailbox advertising how to tell better stories. From rich pr strategies to complex marketing initiatives…we all want to tell better stories.
Groups invest tons of money into these initiatives yet sometimes measuring success is not part of the initial thinking. The hardest question…what is success. Or…is the term “success” an inappropriate representation for the need to see how the audiences interacted with the media.
Let’s think through the term “success” and consider a different lens. When I think of measurement and storytelling, I think in terms of impact and how the audience experienced the media.
From the very beginning, before the creative stage is implemented…we have to set goals. What do we want the media, (the story) to do and how can we measure the impact based on those goals.
Then, we have to identify the story that needs to be told. What is the message and how do we want it to influence the audience. Is this an awareness initiative or is it a marketing initiative?
Here are the fun questions:
1) Can we actually associate measurement to these goals? Well this mathematics graduate knows you can associate numbers/measurement to anything.
2) But, do we really care about all the data we want to collect?
3) Can we experience data overload? So much measurement we are not even sure what to do with the information…often times leaving us overwhelmed and less interested?
Maybe we should just focus our expectations…thus focus our data collection. OR…maybe we should focus on telling better stories?
It is time to celebrate! Yes…the first Successful Entrepreneurship series has come to a close and there are lots to get excited about. Sixteen weeks…eighteen speakers including the Governor! Yes, Governor Haley joined us to talk entrepreneurship and business in South Carolina.
A core group of entrepreneurs, led by Leighton Cubbage, formed a series of entrepreneurs teaching aspiring entrepreneurs. Each week a new topic all hosted at Greenville Technical College.
So here is a quick recap:
- 200 people applied
- 75 accepted into the 16 week program
- 16 Week Program
- 18 Speakers
- Averaged 68 attendees each week
- Collected roughly 674 food items for donation
- 69 Members elected to participate in the Secret Facebook Group
- 1129 Unique Visitors to Successful-Entrepreneurship.com
- Uploaded videos have been watch 210 times.
Here is the list of all the speakers:
Leighton Cubbage, Joe Erwin, Dan Waldschmidt, Bob Hughes, Rick Davis, Cy Burgess, Katherine Smoak Davis, Bobby Rettew, Dave Wyman, Ruben Montalvo, Curtis Harper, Kevin Hendricks, Ray Lattimore, Art Seaver, Matt Dunbar, Steve Mudge, Randy Dobbs, and Governor Nikki Haley
We sent a final survey to all the attendees, so I thought I would share a few of the responses!
1) Who was your favorite speaker? (Tell us why!)
I am not able to pick a favorite. I felt that every speaker was unique and gave an inspirational approach to entrepreneurship. I was very thankful to be a part of this group.
2) Did you connect with someone special? (Share the experience!)
The connections that I have made with those in the class have been most special to me. More than just networking but real connection. Getting to know them without any real expectations has been a true blessing.
3) Share one thing you took away from these events?
Almost all of the speaker talked about the importance of SERVICE and giving instead of getting! This truly blessed me.
4) Did you meet a new business opportunity? (Tell us more!)
I have contacted a classmate and plan to help him buy investment properties.
5) What was your favorite quote from all the events?
“Shut up, go to work, and put it in the pipeline!” & “Timid people have skinny children.”
6) What made you attend week after week?
The content really kept my anticipation HIGH each week! Different topics, differnet experiences, dynamic speakers. the FRIGGING GOVERNOR!!!!!!! need i say more.
7) How can we make Successful Entrepreneurship better?
I think it is spectacular you support share the knowledge… not everyone gets it. Your all role models and it was a pleasure to experience it. I would do it again.