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What’s In a Story?
CSForum 2013
#csforum13
@marsinthestars
My Story
@marsinthestars
I wanted to be a writer
when I was little.
The Ant and the Grasshopper
@marsinthestars
In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper
was hopping about, chirping and singing to
its heart's content.
@marsinthestars
An Ant passed by, bearing along with great
toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
@marsinthestars
"Why not come and chat with me," said the
Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling
in that way?"
@marsinthestars
"I am helping to lay up food for the winter,"
said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the
same."
@marsinthestars
"Why bother about winter?" said the
Grasshopper; "We have got plenty of food at
present." But the Ant went on its way and
...
When the winter came the Grasshopper had
no food and found itself dying of hunger -
while it saw the ants distributing eve...
Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to
prepare for days of need.
@marsinthestars
Stories are memorable
@marsinthestars
A World of Grasshoppers
@marsinthestars
2012: Average attention
span of 8 seconds.
2000: Average attention
span of 12 seco...
A World of Grasshoppers
@marsinthestars
A World of Grasshoppers
@marsinthestars
A World of Grasshoppers
@marsinthestars
Size matters not
@marsinthestars
In many cases,
long copy has proven
more effective than
short copy.
@marsinthestars
The Long and the Short of it
@marsinthestars
The Long and the Short of it
@marsinthestars
The Long and the Short of it
@marsinthestars
The Long and the Short of it
@marsinthestars
It didn’t work because
the content was
longer.
It worked because the
content ...
@marsinthestars
The Long and the Short of it
Stories are engaging
@marsinthestars
“In reality, you cannot
have a page that’s too
long – only one that’s
too boring.”
- Conversion Rate Experts
@marsinthesta...
@marsinthestars
“Sit on a hot stove for a
minute and it seems like an
hour. Sit next to a pretty girl
for an hour, and it ...
The Long and the Short of it
@marsinthestars
You are here
The Ant and the Grasshopper
@marsinthestars
3. Plan ahead, like the ant,
and you won’t starve.
2. Sometimes we need to do
...
Stories are Meaningful
@marsinthestars
"Fiction, because it is not
about somebody who actually
lived in the real world,
always has the possibility of
being about...
Stories are meaningful
@marsinthestars
Hard work pays off.
@marsinthestars
The grasshopper
learned that hard work
pays off.
@marsinthestars
Seeing the ant’s
happiness, the
grasshopper learned
that hard work pays off.
@marsinthestars
After playing all summer
and nearly starving, and
seeing the ant’s
happiness, the
grasshopper learned that
hard work pays ...
Stories are Memorable
@marsinthestars
Basecamp organizes
projects.
@marsinthestars
For thousands of
companies, Basecamp
organizes projects.
@marsinthestars
When they need it, for
thousands of
companies, Basecamp
organizes projects.
@marsinthestars
Like a mountaineer’s
Sherpa when they need
it, for thousands of
companies, Basecamp
organizes projects.
@marsinthestars
Why do stories stick?
@marsinthestars
@marsinthestars
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
Storytelling
Marketing
Content Strategy
Myths and Legends
Education
Lessons
Text a...
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
• Explains the
origin of women.
• Explains personality
attributes.
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
• Explains why bad
things happen.
• Explains hope.
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
• Storytelling as
a peace
offering.
• Storytelling as
a means of
engagement.
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
Emadeddin Baghi
Iranian Author
• Storytelling is
influential.
• Storytelling is
me...
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
History of Storytelling
@marsinthestars
“People need stories
more than bread itself.
They tell us how to live,
and why.”
–Arabian Nights
@marsinthestars
Content Creators
@marsinthestars
Storytelling
Content Creators
We tell stories that can be READ. We:
•Research
•Establish the story
•Add details
•Distribute
@marsinthes...
Research
@marsinthestars
Research
It’s EVERYONE’s job!
@marsinthestars
Research
•Good research = personalized
content!
@marsinthestars
•Have conversations, not interviews
•Pay attention to voca...
Research
The point of questions is
to hear what users have
to say. Their vocabulary is
just as important as their
answers....
Research
Share your own stories
– but only a few.
Remember the main
focus is on the user.
@marsinthestars
Research
Identify patterns.
Patterns are more
valuable than outliers.
@marsinthestars
Establish the Story
@marsinthestars
Establish the Story
@marsinthestars
Establish the Story
@marsinthestars
Establish the Story
Beginning:
Middle:
End:
@marsinthestars
Little Red Riding Hood
wants to visit her grandmother.
She mee...
Establish the Story
Beginning:
Middle:
End:
@marsinthestars
Joe wants to spend
more time with his family.
Joe buys the new...
Establish the Story
Beginning:
Middle:
End:
@marsinthestars
Sally needs a recipe to
make chicken.
On her recipe website, t...
Add Details
@marsinthestars
Add Details
A person
Strangers
A story
@marsinthestars
 a girl
 bears  a family
 Goldilocks
 a whole world
Add Details
@marsinthestars
Add Details
@marsinthestars
Distribute
@marsinthestars
Distribute
•The goal: engage with the audience.
@marsinthestars
•First, learn where the audience is.
•Participate in their...
Distribute
It doesn’t matter where
you market your content, so
long as you go where your
audience spends time.
@marsinthes...
Next Steps
1. Create a story
2. Personalize a story
3. Use different mediums
4. Interact with your audience
5. Trust
@mars...
1. Create a story, and
build the brand around
that story. Tell a story
that shows the value of
your product.
@marsinthesta...
2. Personalize the story
to your target
audience, based on
what you learn from
what they say.
@marsinthestars
3. Use different
mediums to help grow
the story. Go to the
places where your
users hang out.
@marsinthestars
4. Interact with your
audience. Bring them
your content, and help
them understand all of
its value.
@marsinthestars
@marsinthestars
5. Trust the story to
pull in the audience.
Thank you!
Marli Mesibov
marli.us
@marsinthestars
@marsinthestars
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CS Forum - What's in a Story?

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Marli Mesibov's Content Strategy Forum talk on What's In a Story reviews why storytelling is such a powerful tool, and how we can leverage it in our content strategies.

Published in: Design, Education
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CS Forum - What's in a Story?

  1. 1. What’s In a Story? CSForum 2013 #csforum13 @marsinthestars
  2. 2. My Story @marsinthestars I wanted to be a writer when I was little.
  3. 3. The Ant and the Grasshopper @marsinthestars
  4. 4. In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. @marsinthestars
  5. 5. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. @marsinthestars
  6. 6. "Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?" @marsinthestars
  7. 7. "I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same." @marsinthestars
  8. 8. "Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; "We have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. @marsinthestars
  9. 9. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger - while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. @marsinthestars
  10. 10. Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for days of need. @marsinthestars
  11. 11. Stories are memorable @marsinthestars
  12. 12. A World of Grasshoppers @marsinthestars 2012: Average attention span of 8 seconds. 2000: Average attention span of 12 seconds.
  13. 13. A World of Grasshoppers @marsinthestars
  14. 14. A World of Grasshoppers @marsinthestars
  15. 15. A World of Grasshoppers @marsinthestars
  16. 16. Size matters not @marsinthestars
  17. 17. In many cases, long copy has proven more effective than short copy. @marsinthestars
  18. 18. The Long and the Short of it @marsinthestars
  19. 19. The Long and the Short of it @marsinthestars
  20. 20. The Long and the Short of it @marsinthestars
  21. 21. The Long and the Short of it @marsinthestars It didn’t work because the content was longer. It worked because the content was better.
  22. 22. @marsinthestars The Long and the Short of it
  23. 23. Stories are engaging @marsinthestars
  24. 24. “In reality, you cannot have a page that’s too long – only one that’s too boring.” - Conversion Rate Experts @marsinthestars
  25. 25. @marsinthestars “Sit on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit next to a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.” –Albert Einstein
  26. 26. The Long and the Short of it @marsinthestars You are here
  27. 27. The Ant and the Grasshopper @marsinthestars 3. Plan ahead, like the ant, and you won’t starve. 2. Sometimes we need to do things that aren’t very fun. 1. Hard work pays off.
  28. 28. Stories are Meaningful @marsinthestars
  29. 29. "Fiction, because it is not about somebody who actually lived in the real world, always has the possibility of being about ourself.” - Orson Scott Card @marsinthestars
  30. 30. Stories are meaningful @marsinthestars
  31. 31. Hard work pays off. @marsinthestars
  32. 32. The grasshopper learned that hard work pays off. @marsinthestars
  33. 33. Seeing the ant’s happiness, the grasshopper learned that hard work pays off. @marsinthestars
  34. 34. After playing all summer and nearly starving, and seeing the ant’s happiness, the grasshopper learned that hard work pays off. @marsinthestars
  35. 35. Stories are Memorable @marsinthestars
  36. 36. Basecamp organizes projects. @marsinthestars
  37. 37. For thousands of companies, Basecamp organizes projects. @marsinthestars
  38. 38. When they need it, for thousands of companies, Basecamp organizes projects. @marsinthestars
  39. 39. Like a mountaineer’s Sherpa when they need it, for thousands of companies, Basecamp organizes projects. @marsinthestars
  40. 40. Why do stories stick? @marsinthestars
  41. 41. @marsinthestars
  42. 42. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars Storytelling Marketing Content Strategy Myths and Legends Education Lessons Text and visuals Creative direction Branding Fairy tales Communication Oral traditions Fables Visions and Prophesies Connection
  43. 43. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars
  44. 44. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars
  45. 45. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars • Explains the origin of women. • Explains personality attributes.
  46. 46. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars • Explains why bad things happen. • Explains hope.
  47. 47. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars • Storytelling as a peace offering. • Storytelling as a means of engagement.
  48. 48. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars Emadeddin Baghi Iranian Author • Storytelling is influential. • Storytelling is memorable.
  49. 49. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars
  50. 50. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars
  51. 51. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars
  52. 52. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars
  53. 53. History of Storytelling @marsinthestars
  54. 54. “People need stories more than bread itself. They tell us how to live, and why.” –Arabian Nights @marsinthestars
  55. 55. Content Creators @marsinthestars Storytelling
  56. 56. Content Creators We tell stories that can be READ. We: •Research •Establish the story •Add details •Distribute @marsinthestars
  57. 57. Research @marsinthestars
  58. 58. Research It’s EVERYONE’s job! @marsinthestars
  59. 59. Research •Good research = personalized content! @marsinthestars •Have conversations, not interviews •Pay attention to vocabulary •Identify patterns
  60. 60. Research The point of questions is to hear what users have to say. Their vocabulary is just as important as their answers. @marsinthestars
  61. 61. Research Share your own stories – but only a few. Remember the main focus is on the user. @marsinthestars
  62. 62. Research Identify patterns. Patterns are more valuable than outliers. @marsinthestars
  63. 63. Establish the Story @marsinthestars
  64. 64. Establish the Story @marsinthestars
  65. 65. Establish the Story @marsinthestars
  66. 66. Establish the Story Beginning: Middle: End: @marsinthestars Little Red Riding Hood wants to visit her grandmother. She meets the wolf, who eats her and her grandmother. The huntsman kills the wolf, and Red Riding Hood lives happily ever after with her grandmother.
  67. 67. Establish the Story Beginning: Middle: End: @marsinthestars Joe wants to spend more time with his family. Joe buys the new Moto X phone. He can work anywhere! Joe leaves the office early, to take his family on a picnic. They live happily ever after.
  68. 68. Establish the Story Beginning: Middle: End: @marsinthestars Sally needs a recipe to make chicken. On her recipe website, the chicken recipes are bookmarked. Sally makes a wonderful dinner, repairing her relationship with her mother-in-law.
  69. 69. Add Details @marsinthestars
  70. 70. Add Details A person Strangers A story @marsinthestars  a girl  bears  a family  Goldilocks  a whole world
  71. 71. Add Details @marsinthestars
  72. 72. Add Details @marsinthestars
  73. 73. Distribute @marsinthestars
  74. 74. Distribute •The goal: engage with the audience. @marsinthestars •First, learn where the audience is. •Participate in their conversations. •Advertise your product or service where it helps.
  75. 75. Distribute It doesn’t matter where you market your content, so long as you go where your audience spends time. @marsinthestars
  76. 76. Next Steps 1. Create a story 2. Personalize a story 3. Use different mediums 4. Interact with your audience 5. Trust @marsinthestars
  77. 77. 1. Create a story, and build the brand around that story. Tell a story that shows the value of your product. @marsinthestars
  78. 78. 2. Personalize the story to your target audience, based on what you learn from what they say. @marsinthestars
  79. 79. 3. Use different mediums to help grow the story. Go to the places where your users hang out. @marsinthestars
  80. 80. 4. Interact with your audience. Bring them your content, and help them understand all of its value. @marsinthestars
  81. 81. @marsinthestars 5. Trust the story to pull in the audience.
  82. 82. Thank you! Marli Mesibov marli.us @marsinthestars @marsinthestars

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