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Right in the Feels (or how to create content that gets shared) - Turing Festival 2016

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Why do some pieces of content garner coverage whilst others languish unseen and unloved? More often than not it comes down to the hook. But what the hell is a hook? Hannah explains what a hook is, and provides tips and insights on how to improve your creative work.

Published in: Marketing
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Right in the Feels (or how to create content that gets shared) - Turing Festival 2016

  1. 1. @hannah_bo_banna right in the feels right in the feels (or, how to create content that gets shared) @hannah_bo_banna
  2. 2. @hannah_bo_banna hello there!
  3. 3. @hannah_bo_banna
  4. 4. @hannah_bo_banna my team’s job is to make things that journalists want to write about & people want to share
  5. 5. @hannah_bo_banna sometimes we nail it
  6. 6. @hannah_bo_banna (nbed example & results)
  7. 7. @hannah_bo_banna 450k visits
  8. 8. @hannah_bo_banna but it doesn’t always go down like that…
  9. 9. @hannah_bo_banna 31 facebook ‘likes’
  10. 10. @hannah_bo_banna it’s incredibly difficult
  11. 11. @hannah_bo_banna so why do we do it?
  12. 12. @hannah_bo_banna from an SEO perspective we do it to gain links, coverage & social shares
  13. 13. @hannah_bo_banna why?
  14. 14. @hannah_bo_banna links from highly authoritative sites, increase the authority of our clients’ sites
  15. 15. @hannah_bo_banna over time this translates into stronger organic rankings
  16. 16. @hannah_bo_banna stronger organic rankings = more money (for the vast majority of sites)
  17. 17. @hannah_bo_banna but it’s not just about organic rankings
  18. 18. @hannah_bo_banna coverage on high authority sites builds trust & credibility, and, over time increases brand recognition
  19. 19. @hannah_bo_banna social sharing of the content we create offers similar benefits
  20. 20. @hannah_bo_banna but it offers even more than that
  21. 21. @hannah_bo_banna ultimately, I do what I do to help build meaningful brands
  22. 22. @hannah_bo_banna we have a tendency to use ‘company’ & ‘brand’ interchangeably
  23. 23. @hannah_bo_banna but they aren’t the same thing at all
  24. 24. @hannah_bo_banna what does ‘brand’ actually mean?
  25. 25. @hannah_bo_banna brand to impress firmly; fix ineradicably; place indelibly
  26. 26. @hannah_bo_banna therefore…
  27. 27. @hannah_bo_banna a brand is not a brand unless it leave a lasting impression
  28. 28. @hannah_bo_banna & it needs to be a favourable impression
  29. 29. @hannah_bo_banna I believe that companies need to build brands that mean something to people
  30. 30. @hannah_bo_banna content is a great place to play from that perspective
  31. 31. @hannah_bo_banna if you create content people love, then by extension, you’re creating a brand people love
  32. 32. @hannah_bo_banna I am unapologetically passionate about this
  33. 33. @hannah_bo_banna I want to do f*cking great work good isn’t good enough & ok is never ok
  34. 34. @hannah_bo_banna but unhappily, my work isn’t always f*cking great
  35. 35. @hannah_bo_banna it appears I’m not alone, I get a lot of emails like this:
  36. 36. @hannah_bo_banna Hey Hannah! We made this thinger, and we all think it’s great! We’ve gone to 200 journalists, but no one’s picked it up, and we’ve seen no social shares either. Any idea where we’re going wrong?
  37. 37. @hannah_bo_banna this next slide may sound mean (but it’s meant with love)
  38. 38. @hannah_bo_banna when people tell me their piece isn’t working, & I take a look, I typically feel one (or more) of these things this is shallow if I shared this it would say nothing good about me this is so ugly I think my eyes might bleed I don’t think this shows what you’re claiming it shows this is patronising there’s nothing I can identify with here there’s nothing new or different here I’m confused – I don’t get it this isn’t something I care about this isn’t something I’ve ever wondered you’ve promised me something but haven’t delivered cool, but so what?
  39. 39. @hannah_bo_banna for the sake of clarity, I feel the same things when I look back on some of my own pieces
  40. 40. @hannah_bo_banna my work isn’t always f*cking great
  41. 41. @hannah_bo_banna but if we want to get better at this (and I do, desperately)
  42. 42. @hannah_bo_banna then we really need to look at this stuff
  43. 43. @hannah_bo_banna who in here has failed like me?
  44. 44. @hannah_bo_banna 31 facebook ‘likes’
  45. 45. @hannah_bo_banna who else wants to get better?
  46. 46. @hannah_bo_banna I heart you
  47. 47. @hannah_bo_bannaI heart you
  48. 48. @hannah_bo_banna ok, let’s start with the basics
  49. 49. @hannah_bo_banna it can be useful to think about creative pieces in terms of 3 core components: the content, the execution & the hook
  50. 50. @hannah_bo_banna content
  51. 51. @hannah_bo_banna here the content is data from the Forbes billionaires list
  52. 52. @hannah_bo_banna here the content is a collection of images from the 1900s
  53. 53. @hannah_bo_banna execution
  54. 54. @hannah_bo_banna the execution is how we display the content
  55. 55. @hannah_bo_banna
  56. 56. @hannah_bo_banna here the execution is a series of graphs
  57. 57. @hannah_bo_banna
  58. 58. @hannah_bo_banna here we’ve overlaid the photos from the 1900s on to google street view
  59. 59. @hannah_bo_banna hook
  60. 60. @hannah_bo_banna hook something which captivates
  61. 61. @hannah_bo_banna hooks are tricksy
  62. 62. @hannah_bo_banna they aren’t immediately apparent
  63. 63. @hannah_bo_banna which when you think about it, is sort of the point
  64. 64. @hannah_bo_banna if the fish could see the hook, it wouldn’t bite
  65. 65. @hannah_bo_banna often the hook isn’t the piece itself, it’s what lies beneath
  66. 66. @hannah_bo_banna it can be helpful to think of this in terms of the explicit vs the implicit
  67. 67. @hannah_bo_banna explicit = what the piece is or says
  68. 68. @hannah_bo_banna implicit = why the piece resonates
  69. 69. @hannah_bo_banna implicit = why the piece resonates this is the hook!
  70. 70. @hannah_bo_banna this is hard to explain in the abstract...
  71. 71. @hannah_bo_banna
  72. 72. @hannah_bo_banna explicitly, the piece depicts two children playing with a no ball games sign
  73. 73. @hannah_bo_banna but what does the piece really communicate?
  74. 74. @hannah_bo_banna
  75. 75. @hannah_bo_banna implicitly, the piece depicts how children are impacted by the urban environments we’re creating
  76. 76. @hannah_bo_banna or perhaps…
  77. 77. @hannah_bo_banna implicitly, it’s a celebration of children’s healthy disregard for authority & obsessive regulation
  78. 78. @hannah_bo_banna you might regard it as a call to arms…
  79. 79. @hannah_bo_banna
  80. 80. @hannah_bo_banna
  81. 81. @hannah_bo_banna right in the feels
  82. 82. @hannah_bo_banna feels an intense emotional response, such as sadness, excitement or awe
  83. 83. @hannah_bo_banna right in the feels an indication that something has deeply affected you
  84. 84. @hannah_bo_banna strong hooks provoke intense emotional responses (they get you right in the feels)
  85. 85. @hannah_bo_banna ok, let’s shoot back to the previous examples
  86. 86. @hannah_bo_banna explicit = fun facts & stats about billionaires
  87. 87. @hannah_bo_banna implicit = there’s still time for me to make it
  88. 88. @hannah_bo_banna explicit = old meets new
  89. 89. @hannah_bo_banna implicit = the London we’re in danger of losing
  90. 90. @hannah_bo_banna the three components (content, execution & hook) are not discrete units, they work together
  91. 91. @hannah_bo_banna in an ideal world, all 3 components should be strong
  92. 92. @hannah_bo_banna but interestingly, a strong hook can make for a successful piece, even if other components are weak
  93. 93. @hannah_bo_banna (this is not a piece I created)
  94. 94. @hannah_bo_banna
  95. 95. @hannah_bo_banna this gained coverage on over 500 sites
  96. 96. @hannah_bo_banna why?
  97. 97. @hannah_bo_banna
  98. 98. @hannah_bo_banna beer isn’t *quite* the reason, here’s what I think is going on
  99. 99. @hannah_bo_banna explicit = the beers people drink around the world
  100. 100. @hannah_bo_banna implicit = how this maps to our personal preferences & world view
  101. 101. @hannah_bo_banna when I first saw this piece…
  102. 102. @hannah_bo_banna America - land of the free, & the home of the Bud Light drinker
  103. 103. @hannah_bo_banna stuff like this makes me suspect that the hook is the most important component
  104. 104. @hannah_bo_banna my most successful work evoked intense emotional responses
  105. 105. @hannah_bo_banna the work which failed did not
  106. 106. @hannah_bo_banna remember this?
  107. 107. @hannah_bo_banna when people tell me their piece isn’t working, & I take a look, I typically feel one (or more) of these things this is shallow if I shared this it would say nothing good about me this is so ugly I think my eyes might bleed I don’t think this shows what you’re claiming it shows this is patronising there’s nothing I can identify with here there’s nothing new or different here I’m confused – I don’t get it this isn’t something I care about this isn’t something I’ve ever wondered you’ve promised me something but haven’t delivered cool, but so what?
  108. 108. @hannah_bo_banna these issues are tough to deconstruct because we don’t see creative pieces as component parts, we see the whole
  109. 109. @hannah_bo_banna however, I think that each issue can be tied back to problems with: the content, the execution, the hook, or a combination of the three
  110. 110. @hannah_bo_banna issues with content (?) this is shallow if I shared this it would say nothing good about me this is so ugly I think my eyes might bleed I don’t think this shows what you’re claiming it shows this is patronising there’s nothing I can identify with here there’s nothing new or different here I’m confused – I don’t get it this isn’t something I care about this isn’t something I’ve ever wondered you’ve promised me something but haven’t delivered cool, but so what?
  111. 111. @hannah_bo_banna issues with execution (?) this is shallow if I shared this it would say nothing good about me this is so ugly I think my eyes might bleed I don’t think this shows what you’re claiming it shows this is patronising there’s nothing I can identify with here there’s nothing new or different here I’m confused – I don’t get it this isn’t something I care about this isn’t something I’ve ever wondered you’ve promised me something but haven’t delivered cool, but so what?
  112. 112. @hannah_bo_banna issues with the hook (?) this is shallow if I shared this it would say nothing good about me this is so ugly I think my eyes might bleed I don’t think this shows what you’re claiming it shows this is patronising there’s nothing I can identify with here there’s nothing new or different here I’m confused – I don’t get it this isn’t something I care about this isn’t something I’ve ever wondered you’ve promised me something but haven’t delivered cool, but so what?
  113. 113. @hannah_bo_banna you’ll notice I keep coming back to issues with the hook
  114. 114. @hannah_bo_banna the hook = what the piece suggests or evokes
  115. 115. @hannah_bo_banna the hook = why a piece resonates
  116. 116. @hannah_bo_banna if you create something which doesn’t resonate, people won’t feel anything
  117. 117. @hannah_bo_banna when we don’t feel anything, we don’t share, comment, or do anything, we simply move on
  118. 118. @hannah_bo_banna so I believe that finding a compelling hook is paramount
  119. 119. @hannah_bo_banna duh that’s obvious
  120. 120. @hannah_bo_banna yes it is
  121. 121. @hannah_bo_banna no one sets out to create content without a compelling hook
  122. 122. @hannah_bo_banna so, where are we going wrong?
  123. 123. @hannah_bo_banna I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I have identified what I think are 3 of our biggest problems
  124. 124. @hannah_bo_banna problem one: we rarely take the time to truly understand our audience
  125. 125. @hannah_bo_banna I’d like to tell you a story
  126. 126. @hannah_bo_bannamy friend @mattbeswick started out making apps on facebook
  127. 127. @hannah_bo_banna ‘snowball throw’ was the most popular app he made (this was c. 2008)
  128. 128. @hannah_bo_banna the app let you throw a virtual snowball at a friend on facebook
  129. 129. @hannah_bo_banna within a week of launch over 800,000 people had thrown snowballs
  130. 130. @hannah_bo_banna I asked Matt why he thought the app was so popular
  131. 131. @hannah_bo_banna “ummm, people like doing dumb sh*t on the internet?”
  132. 132. @hannah_bo_banna throwing virtual snowballs does sound pretty dumb
  133. 133. @hannah_bo_banna but if that’s the case why did 800,000 people throw them?
  134. 134. @hannah_bo_banna *why* do people do (what essentially looks like) dumb sh*t on the internet?
  135. 135. @hannah_bo_banna what does throwing a virtual snowball mean?
  136. 136. @hannah_bo_banna it is wickedly ambiguous…
  137. 137. @hannah_bo_banna it could mean… hi
  138. 138. @hannah_bo_banna it could mean… I’m thinking about you
  139. 139. @hannah_bo_banna it could mean… I’m thinking about sleeping with you
  140. 140. @hannah_bo_banna throwing a virtual snowball at your Dad means something different to throwing a virtual snowball at that person you met in a bar
  141. 141. @hannah_bo_banna but no one can call you on it
  142. 142. @hannah_bo_banna the way we use facebook feeds into this
  143. 143. @hannah_bo_banna in some contexts we favour transparency, in others we favour ambiguity
  144. 144. @hannah_bo_banna most of the things we do on facebook are (to some extent) public
  145. 145. @hannah_bo_banna but you don’t always want your intentions to be that transparent
  146. 146. @hannah_bo_banna which makes virtual snowballs a pretty useful way to communicate
  147. 147. @hannah_bo_banna it’s likely that people were throwing virtual snowballs to: flirt or reconnect (without actually reconnecting) or just say hi (the list here could go on & on)
  148. 148. @hannah_bo_banna plus, as throwing a virtual snowball back is low-effort, the potential for virality is high
  149. 149. @hannah_bo_banna now all this might sound like “people doing dumb sh*t on the internet”
  150. 150. @hannah_bo_banna but I suspect we’re getting closer to the truth
  151. 151. @hannah_bo_banna there’s an important lesson here
  152. 152. @hannah_bo_banna “people like doing dumb sh*t on the internet” shows an alarmingly shallow & dismissive understanding of people’s motivations
  153. 153. @hannah_bo_banna this sort of ‘thinking’ can cause you big problems
  154. 154. @hannah_bo_banna if you fail to understand your audience, you are in danger of creating something that leaves them feeling one of these things this is shallow if I shared this it would say nothing good about me this is so ugly I think my eyes might bleed I don’t think this shows what you’re claiming it shows this is patronising there’s nothing I can identify with here there’s nothing new or different here I’m confused – I don’t get it this isn’t something I care about this isn’t something I’ve ever wondered you’ve promised me something but haven’t delivered cool, but so what?
  155. 155. @hannah_bo_banna if you fail to understand the people you’re trying to engage with you’re likely to fail to elicit the emotional response you desire from them
  156. 156. @hannah_bo_banna no emotional response = no action
  157. 157. @hannah_bo_banna ok, let’s move on to problem two
  158. 158. @hannah_bo_banna problem two: we never quite got around to finding the hook
  159. 159. @hannah_bo_banna sometimes you think you have a hook, but what you actually have is a red herring
  160. 160. @hannah_bo_banna red herring something which is misleading or distracting
  161. 161. @hannah_bo_banna red herrings might sound vaguely plausible, but don’t bear scrutiny
  162. 162. @hannah_bo_banna we’ve already encountered a couple of red herrings today…
  163. 163. @hannah_bo_banna here are a couple more red herrings for your viewing pleasure
  164. 164. @hannah_bo_banna “games get links, people love games, people love challenging their friends, social proof, blah-blah virality… something”
  165. 165. @hannah_bo_banna a game is a format, not a hook
  166. 166. @hannah_bo_banna if making a game = guaranteed success then no game would ever fail
  167. 167. @hannah_bo_banna games fail all the time (as do quizzes & other similar formats)
  168. 168. @hannah_bo_banna here’s another…
  169. 169. @hannah_bo_banna people love music, they’ll always share this stuff!
  170. 170. @hannah_bo_banna music is a topic, not a hook
  171. 171. @hannah_bo_banna if making a piece about music = guaranteed success then no piece about music would ever fail
  172. 172. @hannah_bo_banna again, pieces about music fail all the time (as do pieces about other popular topics)
  173. 173. @hannah_bo_banna ok, let’s move on to problem three
  174. 174. @hannah_bo_banna problem three: we lose sight of the hook
  175. 175. @hannah_bo_banna does any of this sound familiar?
  176. 176. @hannah_bo_banna we spend days coming up with ideas
  177. 177. @hannah_bo_banna the hook is front of mind
  178. 178. @hannah_bo_banna we pitch the ideas
  179. 179. @hannah_bo_banna then wait
  180. 180. @hannah_bo_banna then we wait some more
  181. 181. @hannah_bo_banna we’ve half-forgotten what we pitched
  182. 182. @hannah_bo_banna we finally hear back the boss kinda likes this one idea, but wants it tweaked a little
  183. 183. @hannah_bo_banna we quickly agree to the tweak because we want to get going (we don’t fully consider how this might impact the hook)
  184. 184. @hannah_bo_banna we get an idea signed off
  185. 185. @hannah_bo_banna we rush headlong into production
  186. 186. @hannah_bo_banna we spend 5 days pulling together the content
  187. 187. @hannah_bo_banna the hook’s kinda there… kinda (everything will probably be fine, right?)
  188. 188. @hannah_bo_banna then 5 days on design
  189. 189. @hannah_bo_banna ooh it’s looking lovely!
  190. 190. @hannah_bo_banna then 10 days on build & QA
  191. 191. @hannah_bo_banna shiny things that move & do stuff!
  192. 192. @hannah_bo_banna we get the thinger signed off & we’re ready to start promoting it
  193. 193. @hannah_bo_banna wait, what was the hook again? (someone has to ferret out the pitch because no one can remember what it was)
  194. 194. @hannah_bo_banna uh oh L
  195. 195. @hannah_bo_banna because hooks aren’t immediately apparent, they are very easy to lose sight of
  196. 196. @hannah_bo_banna you may get away with it
  197. 197. @hannah_bo_banna but it’s more likely that you’ll end up back here again:
  198. 198. @hannah_bo_banna issues with the hook (?) this is shallow if I shared this it would say nothing good about me this is so ugly I think my eyes might bleed I don’t think this shows what you’re claiming it shows this is patronising there’s nothing I can identify with here there’s nothing new or different here I’m confused – I don’t get it this isn’t something I care about this isn’t something I’ve ever wondered you’ve promised me something but haven’t delivered cool, but so what?
  199. 199. @hannah_bo_banna fortunately there is stuff we can do to combat all these problems
  200. 200. @hannah_bo_banna one take the time to understand your audience
  201. 201. @hannah_bo_banna stalk your audience
  202. 202. @hannah_bo_banna what are they interested in?
  203. 203. @hannah_bo_banna what are they already sharing?
  204. 204. @hannah_bo_banna who influences them?
  205. 205. @hannah_bo_banna
  206. 206. @hannah_bo_banna talk to your target audience (or people who could be your target audience)
  207. 207. @hannah_bo_banna got an idea? sound people out
  208. 208. @hannah_bo_banna you have two ears & one mouth (talk less, listen more)
  209. 209. @hannah_bo_banna but be careful what you ask
  210. 210. @hannah_bo_banna
  211. 211. @hannah_bo_banna we didn’t ask: “should we do a grammar quiz?”
  212. 212. @hannah_bo_banna we asked: “what are your pet grammar peeves?”
  213. 213. @hannah_bo_banna it was the longest email thread in the company’s history
  214. 214. @hannah_bo_banna with a reaction like that, we figured we might be on to something…
  215. 215. @hannah_bo_banna two *really* think about the hook
  216. 216. @hannah_bo_banna beware of red herrings
  217. 217. @hannah_bo_banna if your hook sounds like this:
  218. 218. @hannah_bo_banna people love [format]
  219. 219. @hannah_bo_banna OR
  220. 220. @hannah_bo_banna people love [topic]
  221. 221. @hannah_bo_banna then you’re not quite there
  222. 222. @hannah_bo_banna think like a journalist
  223. 223. @hannah_bo_banna what does this mean?
  224. 224. @hannah_bo_banna
  225. 225. @hannah_bo_banna practice taking ideas apart & putting them back together again
  226. 226. @hannah_bo_banna review successful pieces: try to figure out what worked & why
  227. 227. @hannah_bo_banna read the coverage!
  228. 228. @hannah_bo_banna read the comments!
  229. 229. @hannah_bo_banna read what people said on social media!
  230. 230. @hannah_bo_banna remember this?
  231. 231. @hannah_bo_banna when it comes to the hook - ‘beer’ is rarely the answer
  232. 232. @hannah_bo_banna don’t be lazy
  233. 233. @hannah_bo_banna those tools we’re all so fond of can tell us *what* was successful, but not *why*
  234. 234. @hannah_bo_banna knowing why is infinitely more useful
  235. 235. @hannah_bo_banna three keep the hook front of mind
  236. 236. @hannah_bo_banna when you start working on that next ‘thinger’
  237. 237. @hannah_bo_banna focus on the hook
  238. 238. @hannah_bo_banna right in the feels make people feel something
  239. 239. @hannah_bo_banna NOT one of these things! this is shallow if I shared this it would say nothing good about me this is so ugly I think my eyes might be bleeding I don’t think this shows what you’re claiming it shows this is patronising there’s nothing I can identify with here there’s nothing new or different here I’m confused – I don’t get it this isn’t something I care about this isn’t something I’ve ever wondered you’ve promised me something but haven’t delivered cool, but so what?
  240. 240. @hannah_bo_banna revisit this throughout the process
  241. 241. @hannah_bo_banna does this content make people feel any of these things? this is shallow if I shared this it would say nothing good about me this is so ugly I think my eyes might be bleeding I don’t think this shows what you’re claiming it shows this is patronising there’s nothing I can identify with here there’s nothing new or different here I’m confused – I don’t get it this isn’t something I care about this isn’t something I’ve ever wondered you’ve promised me something but haven’t delivered cool, but so what?
  242. 242. @hannah_bo_banna if the answer is yes, try to find a way to fix it
  243. 243. @hannah_bo_banna you may not be able to solve all the issues
  244. 244. @hannah_bo_banna but do the best that you can
  245. 245. @hannah_bo_banna launch things!
  246. 246. @hannah_bo_banna learn things!
  247. 247. @hannah_bo_banna & seek to continually evolve & improve!
  248. 248. @hannah_bo_banna good luck out there x
  249. 249. @hannah_bo_banna Hannah Smith Head of Creative Verve Search send questions and/or pictures of cats to: hannah@vervesearch.com tweet things @hannah_bo_banna
  250. 250. @hannah_bo_banna Big love to the team at Verve who helped me put this together. Images: feels: http://i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/531/319/99f.gif nobody likes me: http://www.iheartthestreetart.com/street-2/#lightbox[group-26481]/39/ phone lovers: http://banksy.co.uk no ball games: http://banksy.co.uk disobedience: http://living-my-life-recklessly.tumblr.com/post/98684008648/it-is-through-disobedience-that-progress-has-been beer map: http://vinepair.com/wine-blog/most-popular-beer-every-country-map/ don draper: http://www.bandt.com.au/media/here-are-some-of-don-drapers-best-put-downs Credits

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