Brands as storytellers. I just came back from SXSW and what i found interesting is that a subject that creeped in to almost every session was the notion of storytelling. There were sessions on startups raising money through storytelling and getting jobs through storytelling. One of the things that i’ve been talking about with a lot of clients lately is the shift to the brand as a storyteller.
Lets start like all stories do with a “once upon a time”.
“ In 1965, 80% percent of adults could be reached with three 60-second TV spots. Today it requires 117 prime time Commercials to produce the same result ” (Jim Stengel, Former GMO P&G) Back then there were only a few ways for us to get brand messages. There were three TV networks. If you wanted to reach the consumer and you had the money, it was a no brianer- buy a few TV spots. Fast forward 20 years.
In the 1980’s, cable started to become more popular, the landscape became a bit more fragmented. (click) It’s estimated that you were exposed to over 700 brand messages a day (that includes TV spots, publications such as newspapers and magazines, etc.). Then the internet came along and changed things dramatically...
According to a NY Times article, the average person is exposed to between 3000 and 5000 brand messages a day depending on where you live. If you live in a city, it’s closer to the 5,000 end of the spectrum. Consumers are constantly being bombarded by ads and branding in pretty much every aspect of our daily lives. What effect has that had on us? Well, that depends on your age.
If you are a jaded Generation Xer (as I am), studies show that you are mostly immune to traditional advertising. For whatever reason, research shows that this generation feel independent, and their order of trust is to trust themselves first, then their friends, then others and then the media. Gen X is typically turned off by direct advertising, and hype. BUT...
If you are part of the “millennial” or Gen Y age group, studies show that your order if trust is a bit different. They are less jaded and don’t have as much of a distrust for traditional media. What I find most interesting about this demographic is that studies show that...
Millenials still like traditional advertising (TV commercials, etc)... BUT, (click) they also EXPECT their favorite brands to be on their social networks.
Y Pulse which is a great source for insights in to the millenial generation, surveyed college students on why they feel this way. (CLICK) 67% say that a brand’s presence on social shows that the band cares about their generation (Click) 64% have “LIKED” a brand on Facebook (click) 56% think that social media is a great way to find out what’s new with a brand they like
What I found more interesting is the reasons that people unfollow a brand. Number 1 by a longshot is that the brand sends too many messages. Nobody likes getting spammed
So, what can we take from this? Millenials use social media to keep informed of brands that they like, BUT (click) if you bombard them with traditional brand messaging you risk being unfollowed. (click) They want their news feed to be fun and more engaging So....
.... One of the best ways to engage with this social consumer is to be a story teller.
If you think about where we are today, we are now in an era where brands can bypass traditional media and tell their stories directly to their fans. Never before in the history of the world could virtually anyone publish content and have it seen by such a large potential audience.
Since the beginning of the internet, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of content that is available to us as consumers, the problem is that our attention span has not increased. That is the biggest problem with this paradigm. The easier it is for anyone to publish content, the greater the temptation to push “easy content”. What I mean by that is typical “brand messages”.... Things that can be seen as spam. The only way to get your signal through the noise... The only way that your message will resonate... is if it is QUALITY content.
But what type of content? Stories. They resonate with people. Recently at SXSW I wa approached by a student studying PR and Marketing. After trying to convince her to do something better with her life like become a doctor or a teacher, I told her that the greatest talent a marketer can have in this new world is the ability to write and tell a story. The ability to make something like a brand personal will always be an asset. One quote that I absolutely love on this topic is by John Steinbeck...
“ if a story is not about the hearer he (or she will not listen).” Make your brand personal to the social consumer.
One of the best examples in this shift to story telling is the introduction of the Facebook Timeline for brands. I was reading an article in Ad Age the other day and they described launch day this way “ it’s as if dozens of little corporate museums just launched on FaceBook”. Some of these “museum” type layouts are great and really work well. The NY times has done an excellent job showcasing old photos and articles”, they make the process of reporting personal. Some have really embraced this tool to tell a story. One of my favorite examples of this is :
Captain Morgan. Here you see the typical branded Facebook page. There are recipes and photos of people dressed as the Captain, again, very personal. But if you explore a bit, you’ll notice the timeline on the right. It allows you to go back in time and see pictures of the captain during different time periods. If you go all the way back to the 1800’s...
You’ll find a post about a party in 1890 where the captain cracked open a bottle of his private stock. Which turned these monthly dinners held by a “rich old miser” in to something unexpectedly awesome. This is content that I would not mind having in my news stream , I like to have the occasional Captain and Cola, I like the brand, and I find this story completely entertaining. I can only assume that others feel the same way I do because this page has over 1 million “likes”. That is over 1 million people that have volunteered to get brand messages sent to them. 1 million people that have volunteered to see advertisements. It’s a great example of storytelling.
Another great way to tell a story is to use multimedia. I really think that the reason infographics are so popular is because the best ones break down a bunch of information and use images to tell a story.
Obviously we can’t talk about this without mentioning The Old Spice guy. They really embraced social and multimedia, particularly when they started responding to Tweets and comments in near-real-time on their YouTube channel. The videos produced that day dwarfed their widely popular national commercials in YouTube views. But there are many other great examples of this...
I really love this piece put together by an ADHD website in the UK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaEyuicY_nM It tells a simple story of how the world might look to someone with ADHD. It’s personal content.
The other great thing about MultiMedia is that it typically gets much more views. This is a study that we did a few months back where we analyzed over 10,000 releases over a one month period. As you can see the releases that told a story through multimedia garnered 77% more views. http://blog.prnewswire.com/2011/05/02/multimedia-content-drives-better-press-release-results/ One of the big reasons for this is that video is shared much more enthusiastically on Social Networks. Over that one month period, they were “shared” 3.5x more than text releases. A Multimedia News Release also greatly increases your SEO value since all assets are indexed individually by the search engines. Using multimedia is not only a great way to tell a story, but it is also a great way to increase potential views to your content This data is a bit old, but we are actually publishing a whitepaper on the Age of Video Engagement in a couple of weeks. I don;t have permission to show it yet, but I have been given permission to share one of the big takeaways. To me it’s fairly obvious, but “ You can’t treat video as an afterthought. If you do, its impact on your campaigns will be neutralized.” If you want access to the whitepaper, feel free to follow me on twitter @tmiale, and I’ll let you know when it’s available.
The Brand as a Story Teller
Brands as Story Tellers Tom Miale (@tmiale) Director, Multimedia Engagement MultiVu@tmiale #BDI1
“ In 1965, 80% percent of adults could be reached with three 60- second TV spots. Today it requires 117 prime time Commercials to produce the same result ” (Jim Stengel, Former GMO P&G)@tmiale #BDI1
In the 80’s you wereexposed to700 brandmessages a day
Millennials still LIKEtraditional advertising BUT... They EXPECT brands to be on their social networks
67% say that a brand’s presence on socialshows that the band cares about theirgeneration64% have “LIKED” a brand onFacebook56% think that social media isa great way to find out what’snew with a brand they like Source- YPulse January 2012 Study
Top Reasons Millennials “Unfollow” a BrandThe brand sends toomany messages (59%)Stopped liking the brand (14%)Wanted their social network to bemore personal/for friends (12%)Not enough sales orpromotion offers (10%). Source- YPulse January 2012 Study
Millennials clearly use Social Media to help stay informed of what their brands are doingThey want their news feed to be fun and engaging When you turn on the fire hose of traditional brand messaging in to their news stream, you will be “unfollowed”
CREATE COMPELLING AND RELEVANT CONTENT@tmiale #BDI1
“If a story is not about the hearer he [or she] will not listen . . . A great lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting--only the deeply personal and familiar.” ― John Steinbeck, East of Eden@tmiale #BDI1
... To summarize We are bombarded with brand To stand out from the rest Messaging all day of the content, make your message personalMost of us don’t mind as long asthe content is interesting Multimedia is a great story telling device and it’s more likely to be sharedThe minute it’s not, we’re likely tounfollow • ... And they all lived happily ever after @tmiale #BDI1