Well, This IS Interesting: Content & the Science of Interest

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Presentation to Confab 2013 by Melissa Rach, Dialog Studios

The secret’s out: Content attracts customers. The hard part is getting your content to stand out from the crowd. How are you supposed to compete with stories about snowstorms, scandals, or Snooki’s meatball baby? And, more importantly, how can you create something meaningful and valuable to your target audience?

In this session, we’ll explore what makes content interesting. Armed with research, case studies, and insights from other industries, we’ll identify techniques to help your content:

-Capture people’s attention.
-Keep them interested and involved.
-Convert interest into action.

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  • MadabandonDialog Studios can help you use content to connect with the people who matter most to your organization.
  • Chao Wen WeiContent that incents--Interesting content creates relationships and salesMarketing Profs: 37% of B2B marketers rate content that is neither provocative or engaging as the #1 barrier to successful demand generation But making things interesting is a difficult art – interest is different to everyone and even one person’s interests change over time It’s easy to make something interesting to curious peopleBut, what happens when we need to make something interesting to non-curious people We need to make people curious and keep their attention – make something not interesting, interesting And what help do we get? Mostly Platitudes that don’t seem to work in all situations
  • Best selling ever 35,000 words (37 pages)
  • Boiling water: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4ae94ECbm0
  • http://www.webpop.com/blog/2013/04/16/can-a-puppy-sell-a-cms
  • Text about products or organizations that might not be excitingAwarenessDecision making Retention There must be something deeper
  •  martin_vmorrisHumans forage for information the way animals forage for food, then we use it to build a story around it As we get older, we can direct some aspects of our curiosity Educational psychGoal – For work, for school Action – to be part of a social thing Learning – for our own sake, to entertain, avoid boredom
  • People think interesting is fun! But it bugs us not to know the answer Compared to deprivation -- Causes physiological changes that are like deep concentration or frustration (not happy) But there is that little a pause when you need to know something, before you know it that is actually unpleasantThe fun is in the payoff, that’s what makes us happy Interest: Try new things, places, experiencesHappiness: Form attachments to things, places, and experiences Without interest people stick to things they know and like stubbornlyWithout happiness, people flit from thing to thing instead of returning to proven sourcesPaintings happy = simple, positive, relaxing interesting = disturbing and complicated
  • Lowenstien gap in knowledge: Interest is about filling an information gap Intensity of the feeling happens when with the likelyhood of certain information to resolve the gap –Car accident on the highwayLast piece of the puzzle Curiosity correlates to our understanding the more we know, the more we want to know- I know 8 of 10 things, I want to know the last one
  • Molyneaux’s dog Emotion study – positive or negative emotions – but they cued us either wayHuman connectionsChallenge the way we think of the worldSomething everyone believes is not interesting Something that is the opposite of what we believe is insanity Something that changes the way you think is interesting
  • Berlyne 1960Want to know something Learn something new Understand it – instantly becomes less interesting (even boring) But that knowledge allows more things to be interesting – opens doors, motivates more learning Because you have that knowledge go to the next level of complexity
  • Sharing is a big part of interest All of that information-gathering and curiosity isn’t just for ourselvesLike interest, anthropologists tell us storytelling is central to human existing Brain studies show the parts of the brain that light up during interest are associated with parts of our brain that thinks about other people’s goals (STUDY: Emily Falk, Matthew Lieberman, UCLA) We bring social concerns with us wherever we go -- Social Foraging News content gives us shared information space that allows us to connect with others – Deane Barker
  •  mrkmobilephotohttp://www.flickr.com/photos/mikeplaces/
  • Berlyne 1960Want to know something Learn something new Understand it – instantly becomes less interesting (even boring) But that knowledge allows more things to be interesting – opens doors, motivates more learning Because you have that knowledge go to the next level of complexity There are two types of meaning:Semantic: Understand a concept and how it relates to other conceptsPersonal: Know who I am and how I relate to others —Michael Wesch (paraphrased)
  • Know your product/topic/organizationSocial foraging – when you are interested you want to share it You can tell when somebody is interested
  • When we struggle to master new ideas we write worse Curious What’s an “entrepreneurial learner”? It’s an individual who can be in any situation and see the opportunity to learn, explained innovation and organization researcher
  • The greatest storytellers know how to make the ordinary into something interesting Pratik Dholakiya, How to Write Interesting Content for a “Boring” Topic
  • Journalism is a service industry. —David BrinkleyIt’s not about creating content (the people formerly known as the audience)Concept of the audience is outdated Broadcasting/traditional left people with nothing left to do except consume Customers want rich conversations based on reciprocity and respect ---
  • Choice architectContent is a service industry OLD DAYS:Western commerce: I give you money, you give me something of valueNOW: Middle Eastern commerce: Merchant invites you in for tea before discussing his wares, tells you the story of his life Customer needs to be engaged, belief in something – make you part of a bigger story
  • Who are they? What are they trying to accomplish today, with you? But what is the bigger story? What knowledge gaps do they have that you can fill?
  • Focusing on the audience doesn’t mean pleasing everyone, you can choose your audience
  • Lowenstien gap in knowledge: Interest is about filling an information gap Intensity of the feeling happens when with the likelyhood of certain information to resolve the gap –Car accident on the highwayLast piece of the puzzle Curiosity correlates to our understanding the more we know, the more we want to know- I know 8 of 10 things, I want to know the last one
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikelo/
  • Time ResourcesExpertiseAppropriateness Business goals
  • genmaichaitahttp://www.flickr.com/photos/genmachaita/
  • genmaichaita
  • Good content is original You get what you pay forIf you don’t have anything useful to say don’t say anything
  • Bite-Snack-Meal80% just read headlines20% read the stories Intensity of curiosity correlates to the likelihood of certain information to resolve the gap Curiosity correlates to understanding. The more we know about a topic the more we focus on the gaps. I know 8 of 10 things, I want to know the other 2. If I only know 2, I’m not ready for all 8.
  • NewsjackingMolyneaux’s dog – If I can make you feel something, the story is more meaningful
  • FASASW
  • Make people feel comfortable Get rid of all technical and other distractions Make it easy to use
  • Novelty, new, unexpectedComprehensibility is a coping mechanism. I have the skills, knowledge and resources to deal with this.
  • Utility: Beyond usability – Usefulness -- get rid of any technical barriers Format: Everybody talks about it, but really is about learning experience and context Quality: Understandability, Relevancy, Cohesiveness
  • Begin with concepts familiar to your reader Use familiar languageFocus on one theme at a time– topics of sentences, subjectsNEW + Comprehensible
  • Digital media has created an authorship crises Everything starts with authors saying please take me seriously I made this, I own itCompanies used to controlling the contentNot built to listen, but they need to start Charles Dickens
  • Ask for feedback Slow down your product Actionable, Consistent
  • Comments about fit and use encouragedSubmit your pictures
  • Not the sage on the stage, but the guide on the side Both the teacher and the student learn from the experience Rethink success Longer metrics, not just traffic – count questions – use curiosity and interaction as a measure Make budgets customer centricSustained programs not just one-time success  geodesic
  • Well, This IS Interesting: Content & the Science of Interest

    1. Well, this ISInterestingContent & the scienceof interestMelissa Rach | Dialog Studiosflickr user: madabandon
    2. HousekeepingTwitter:@MelissaRachSlides:bit.ly/interestingcontentDialogStudios.comflickr user: madabandon
    3. Frank RoseThe Art of Immersion“We are now at the intersection oflure and blur.”flickr user: David Choi
    4. Dialog Studios can help you use content toconnect with the people who matter most toyour organization.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4ae94ECbm0
    5. 10Puppies!
    6. Interest 101
    7. 12©2013 Melissa Rach. All rights reserved.
    8. 13Goal-orientedflickr user: martin_vmorris
    9. ©2013 Melissa Rach. All rights reserved.
    10. Stephen Anderson, Applying Curiosity to Interaction Design
    11. http://mywifesfightwithbreastcancer.comvia Sarah Marx Cancilla
    12. LearnUnderstandLearn
    13. flickr user: urbanlegend
    14. flickr user: mrkmobilephoto
    15. Learn &UnderstandShare &ExpandLearn &UnderstandShare &ExpandLearn &Understand
    16. We know:• Interest has several different purposes• Interest is about filling knowledge gaps andmaking connections• Ongoing interest requires increasingcomplexity• Sharing and storytelling takes interest to thenext level
    17. 5thingsyou can do
    18. 1. Get yourself interested
    19. flickr user: CollegeDegrees360
    20. [Employees] want to be part ofsomething larger than themselves.They want to be part of somethingtheyre really proud of, that theyllfight for, sacrifice for.—Howard Schulz, Starbucks
    21. What makes people think they need todrink coffee from a coffee cup and waterfrom a glass?Why are we drawn to novelty coffee cupswith phrases like “World’s Greatest Dad”on them?How does a coffee cup get all the way fromChina to the US and still sell for a profit?When do coffee cup sales rise and whatdoes that tell us about the Americanpublic?flickr user: Janne Haarni Pratik Dholakiya, How to Write Interesting Content for a “Boring” Topic
    22. Baby Center on Instagram
    23. 2. Focus on helping people
    24. flickr user: garryknight
    25. [People] learn what they care about,from people they care aboutand who, they know, cares about them.—Barbara Harrell Carson,Thirty Years of Stories
    26. flickr user: brianteutsch
    27. TryBuySolveEvolveTriggeringNeedLearngettingkeepingLinda Ireland, Domino
    28. flickr user: Bahai.us
    29. 3. Find information gaps(and decide which to fill)
    30. Stephen Anderson, Applying Curiosity to Interaction Design
    31. flickr user: mikelo
    32. flickr user: genmaichaita
    33. flickr user: genmaichaita
    34. NoveltyImpactConflictLossProximityProminenceTimelinessCurrencyEmotion
    35. flickr user: FASASW
    36. 4. Make it easy
    37. flickr user: AudreyH Thanks to Margot Bloomstein
    38. flickr user: marc falardeau
    39. Absorption, concentration,and interest come from tasksin which the person’s skillsmatch the challenge.—Daniel BerlyneConflict, Arousal, and Curiosity
    40. Ariad Communications, Content Changes Everything
    41. Apes seem capable of using language tocommunicate. Whether scientists areremains doubtful.—Douglas ChadwickNew York Timesflickr user: epSos.de
    42. “The relationship between emotionand social transmission is morecomplex than valence alone.”There is a relationship between viralcontent and emotional impact.
    43. Write to others as you wouldhave others write to you.—Joseph M. WilliamsStyle: The Basics of Clarity and Grace
    44. 5. Talk, teach, listen, learn
    45. flickr user: TheisKofoed Hjorth
    46. flickr user: geodesic
    47. In review….
    48. So, how do youmake contentinteresting?
    49. Thanks!Questions?Twitter:@MelissaRach#confabinterestSlides:bit.ly/interestingcontentDialogStudios.comflickr user: madabandonExtra thanks to:Julie VollenweiderChristine BensonTenessa GemelkeSean TubridyMargot BloomsteinRick AllenSarah Marx CancillaMargot Merrill FernandezSarah KrznarichNicole Jones
    50. flickr user:CollegeDegrees360More informationPaul Silvia, Interest—The Curious Emotionhttp://www.uncg.edu/~p_silvia/papers/08%20CDir,%20Interest.pdfFrank Rose, The Art of Immersionhttp://www.artofimmersion.com/Webpop, A Puppy Can Sell a CMShttp://www.webpop.com/blog/2013/04/16/can-a-puppy-sell-a-cmsJonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman, What makes online content viral?http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1528077Joseph M. Williams, Style:The Basics of Clarity and Gracehttp://www.amazon.com/Style-The-Basics-Clarity-Grace/dp/0321112520Stephen Anderson, Applying Curiosity to Interaction Designhttp://johnnyholland.org/2009/08/curiosity-and-interaction-design/Michael Wesch, A Portal to Media Literacyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4yApagnr0sLinda Ireland, Dominohttp://www.aveus.com/thought_leadership/books/domino/Barbara Harrell Carson, ThirtyYears of StoriesOut of Print, no link availablePratik Dholakiya, How toWrite Interesting Content for a “Boring”Topichttp://www.copyblogger.com/boring-topic-content-marketing/Daniel Berlyne, Conflict, Arousal, and Curiosityhttp://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4320468.aspxAriad Communications, Content Changes Everythinghttp://www.ariad.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/contentmaturity.pdfflickr user: CollegeDegrees360

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