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Storytelling in the Digital Age

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Learn more storytelling's rich background, and how to incorporate those principles into your content marketing. Pearl Higgins' presentation for SEMNE in June of 2016 in Boston.

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Storytelling in the Digital Age

  1. 1. Storytelling  in  the  Digital  Age Pearl  Higgins June  21,  2016|  #SEMNE  @pearl_higgins
  2. 2. A  little  bit  about  me… - Director  of  Client  Services,   Outspoken  Media - MA  in  Children’s  Literature,   Simmons  College - Former  Children’s  Book   Reviewer,  The  Horn  Book  Guide - Maurice  Sendak enthusiast - Former  child @pearl_higgins 2
  3. 3. 3 @pearl_higgins “All  great  literature  is  one  of  two  stories;   a  man  goes  on  a  journey  or  a  stranger   comes  to  town.”
  4. 4. 4 Storytelling  involves  a  two-­‐‑way   interaction  between  a  storyteller   and  one  or  more  listeners.   What  is  storytelling?
  5. 5. Storytelling  in  2016 5 @pearl_higgins
  6. 6. Storytelling  &  children’s  literature 6 Picture  books:   32  pages  long Picture  book  audience: • Short  attention  span • Authors  need  to  grab  their   attention  quickly • Illustrators  woo  them  with   bright  colors  and   repetition @pearl_higgins
  7. 7. Is  storytelling  the  “new”  content  marketing? Content  marketing  is  hot…so  storytelling  is  the  new   content,  right? 7 @pearl_higgins
  8. 8. No.  {Google  Trends  data  2006-­‐‑2016} 8
  9. 9. Storytelling  is  something  much  bigger. 9
  10. 10. Science  of  storytelling When  we  read  about  facts  or   directive  information,  the  parts  of   our  brains  activated  are: 1. Broca’sarea   {Language  processing} 2.   Wernicke’s  area   {Information  processing} 10 @pearl_higgins
  11. 11. Passage  from  John  Grisham’s  The  Firm: “An  hour  before  midnight,  the  phone  rang.  Except  for  it  and   the  light  snoring,  the  second  floor  office  was  without  a  sound.   His  feet  were  on  the  new  desk,  crossed  at  the  ankles  and   numb  from  lack  of  circulation…  After  a  dozen  rings  he  moved,   then  jumped  at  the  phone…  His  shoes  were  on  the  floor,  next   to  the  desk  …  an  empty  potato  chip  bag  was  between  the   shoes…  It  was  his  wife.  ‘Why  haven’t  you  called?’  she  asked,   coolly,  yet  with  a  slight  touch  of  concern.” 11
  12. 12. Science  of  storytelling While  you  read  this,  the   following  areas  in  your  brain   were  triggered: – Sensory  cortex – Motor  cortex – Olfactory  cortex   – Visual  cortex – Auditory  cortex 12 @pearl_higgins
  13. 13. What  is  story? 13
  14. 14. Plot DeliveryAudience 14 @pearl_higgins
  15. 15. All  Stories  Fall  into  7  Plot   Categories -­‐‑ Christopher  Booker  in  Jungian  analysis  of  story   “The  Seven  Basic  Plots” 15 @pearl_higgins
  16. 16. Overcoming   the   monster: Beowulf Harry  Potter 16 @pearl_higgins Rags  to   Riches: Aladdin Cinderella Jane  Eyre The  Quest: The  Illiad Watership Down Harold  &   Kumar  go  to   Whitecastle Voyage  &   Return: The  Odyssey Alice  in   Wonderland Labyrinth
  17. 17. Comedy: Twelfth   Night Bridget   Jones’  Diary 17 @pearl_higgins Tragedy: Macbeth Hamlet Breaking   Bad Rebirth: Beauty  &   The  Beast How  the   Grinch  Stole   Christmas
  18. 18. 18
  19. 19. Plot Delivery 19 @pearl_higgins
  20. 20. 20
  21. 21. Molly  Bang  &  picture  books Sometimes  it’s  all  in  what  you   hint  at,  allude  to,  or  use  to  grab   your  audience’s  attention. You  don’t  have  a  lot  of  time;   visuals  can  carry  the  weight  for   you.   21 @pearl_higgins
  22. 22. Size,  location,  movement 22 @pearl_higgins
  23. 23. The  wolf 23 @pearl_higgins
  24. 24. The  tension 24 @pearl_higgins
  25. 25. The  final  story 25 @pearl_higgins
  26. 26. Christina  Jackson   Modernist  Fairy  Tale  Posters 26 @pearl_higgins
  27. 27. 27 @pearl_higgins
  28. 28. 28 @pearl_higgins
  29. 29. 29 @pearl_higgins
  30. 30. The  art  of  storytelling  is   really  in  the  delivery. 30 @pearl_higgins
  31. 31. Where  the  Wild  Things  Are 31 @pearl_higgins
  32. 32. 32 @pearl_higgins
  33. 33. 33 @pearl_higgins
  34. 34. 34
  35. 35. 35 @pearl_higgins
  36. 36. How  do  you  want  your   audience  to  feel? 36 @pearl_higgins
  37. 37. 37
  38. 38. 38 http://awaywego.carnival.com/360vacation/
  39. 39. So  why  now? 39
  40. 40. You  are  no  longer  competing   with  the  content  of  your   industry  or  SERP  competitors,   you  are  also  competing  with  the   search  engines  and  platforms.   40 @pearl_higgins
  41. 41. Hummingbird,  mobile  growth,  voice   search,  Google  News,  FB  instant  articles…
  42. 42. Mobile  growth  in  2016 42 @pearl_higgins We  have  the   internet  in  our   hands  huge   portions  of  the   day,  but  even   with  all  of  that   access,  studies   show  79%  of   people  only   skim  the   content  they   choose  to  read.  
  43. 43. Mobile  growth  &  time  in  front  of  audience 43 @pearl_higgins
  44. 44. Hummingbird Whole  query  results  deliver  search  engine  result   pages  (SERPs)  that  rely  more  on  page  content  to   return  relevant  results  for  long-­‐‑tail  queries  and   questions. People  + Places  + Things 44 @pearl_higgins
  45. 45. Long-­‐‑tail  queries On  the  content  side,  this   impacts  optimization   strategy  because  it's  now   possible  to  target  and  rank   for  whole  long-­‐‑tail  queries   or  questions  with  relevant,   high-­‐‑quality  content. 2006:  Brie 2016:  What’s  the  difference   between  brie  and   camembert?   45
  46. 46. Hummingbird - Google  is  looking  to   answer  your  question  in   the  SERPs  with   knowledge  graph.   - It  provides  the  best   possible  user  experience   to  question-­‐‑based   queries.   - No  reason  to  leave.  L - Google  delivers  and   owns  the  content.     46 Answer  Box
  47. 47. Google  Posts The  waitlist  is  now  open   for  Google  Posts,  Google’s   new  in-­‐‑SERP  content   service.   While  this  is  an  exciting   new  opportunity  to  get   your  content  teased  in   Google,  it’s  limited  in   character  and  image   count.   47 http://www.thesempost.com/google-­‐‑adds-­‐‑new-­‐‑instant-­‐‑content-­‐‑feature-­‐‑in-­‐‑ search-­‐‑results/  
  48. 48. FB  Instant  Articles The  good: 10X  faster  than  standard  mobile  web   articles 20%  more  instant  articles  read  on  average 70%  less  likely  to  be  abandoned The  bad: The  user  stays  within  the  app,  and  will   likely  not  visit  your  site,  explore  your  other   content,  etc.   48 @pearl_higgins
  49. 49. Voice:  Alexa,  Siri,  Cortana   49 Mindmeld study  via   Search  Engine  Land
  50. 50. Voice  search  considerations On  the  content  side,  we  need  to   adapt  to  the  new  technology: 1. Rethink  the  branded  search 2. Adjust  for  natural  language 3. Adapt  for  top  of  funnel 50 @pearl_higgins
  51. 51. Voice  search  and  the  future  of  AI While  many  searches  being   performed  right  now  are  more   transactional  in  nature,  the  future   might  hold  much  more.  With  that,   our  relationship  with  AI  will  need  to   change.   51 @pearl_higgins
  52. 52. Artificial  intelligence  and  story In  a  talk  in  Pittsburgh  in   1997,  the  late   evolutionary  biologist   Stephen  J.  Gould   allegedly  characterized   humans  as  "the  primates   who  tell  stories." 52 http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2016/06/13/481827994/are-­‐‑stories-­‐‑a-­‐‑key-­‐‑to-­‐‑human-­‐‑intelligence?
  53. 53. AI  and  story Researchers  have  observed  that   people  will  more  likely  trust  an   autonomous  system,  such  as  a  robot,  if   they  have  a  more  accurate   understanding  of  its  decision-­‐‑making   process.  Studies  have  shown  that   hand-­‐‑crafted  explanations can  help   maintain  effective  team  performance,   even  when  the  system  is  less  than   100%  reliable. -­‐‑-­‐‑The  Impact  of  POMDP-­‐‑Generated   Explanations  on  Trust  and   Performance  in  Human-­‐‑Robot  Teams 53 @pearl_higgins
  54. 54. Story  will  help  to  carry  your   brand  when  you  have  limited   reach,  even  on  the  platforms   you’ve  come  to  rely  on. 54 @pearl_higgins
  55. 55. 55 https://www.onespot.com/blog/infographic-­‐‑the-­‐‑science-­‐‑of-­‐‑storytelling/
  56. 56. 56 Is  this  marketing?
  57. 57. Where  the  story  happens Discovery Consideration Decision 57 @pearl_higgins Here Here Retention
  58. 58. Go  Pro  vs.  other  video  cameras 58
  59. 59. So…how  does  that  work  for  an   SEO,  a  digital  marketer,  the  in-­‐‑ house  marketing  team? 59
  60. 60. Using  story  to  build  content  strategy Research Format Authenticity Community 60 @pearl_higgins
  61. 61. Discovery Consideration Decision Retention 61 @pearl_higgins
  62. 62. Research 62
  63. 63. 63 We  are  missing  the  boat  a  lot  with  awareness-­‐‑ targeted  content.  
  64. 64. Incomplete  keyword  research   is  to  blame.   64 @pearl_higgins
  65. 65. How  do  you  search  for   something  when  you  really   don’t  understand  it? 65
  66. 66. What  if  you   didn’t  already   know  the   difference   between  the  two? 66 @pearl_higgins
  67. 67. You  might  search  for  curly  vs.   straight  lightbulb,  curly   lightbulb  and  other   modifiers… 67 @pearl_higgins
  68. 68. LED  vs.  CFL Original  piece  optimized  for  8  keywords  with  a   variety  of  modifiers…  now  ranks  for  210.   68 @pearl_higgins
  69. 69. Help  your  audience  find  the   content  they  are  looking  for   first,  focus  on  selling  later.   69 @pearl_higgins
  70. 70. What  if  you  want  to  grow  your   audience,  and  you  aren’t  sure   how? 70
  71. 71. You  have  to  match  your   content  to  all  possible  queries. @pearl_higgins
  72. 72. & 72
  73. 73. There  is  still  plenty   of  room  in  this  SERP   for  queries  that   would  also  inform   “paleontology”. 73 @pearl_higgins
  74. 74. What  does  this  mean  for   keyword  research? Go  broader,  deeper,   further,  longer… 74 @pearl_higgins
  75. 75. Go  broader Look  to  see  what  more  informational  competitors   are  ranking  for. Example: Energy  provider  |  Epa.gov 75 @pearl_higgins
  76. 76. Go  deeper Investigate  deeper  through  autocomplete,  MOZ   Keyword  Explorer,  more  trial  and  error  with   modifiers,  etc.   https://moz.com/explorer/ 76 @pearl_higgins
  77. 77. 77
  78. 78. Don’t  be  scared  of  low  or  no   search  volume,  longer-­‐‑tailed   keywords  and  specialized   fields  are  going  to  be  lower.   78 @pearl_higgins
  79. 79. Go  further Check  your  SERPs  and  your  competitors’  to  make   sure  it’s  a  neighborhood  you  want  to  be  in.   79 @pearl_higgins
  80. 80. LED  lights Just  because  a   keyword  has  a  high   search  volume,   doesn’t  make  it  a   good  candidate.   You  want  relevant   SERPs.   80 @pearl_higgins
  81. 81. LED  vs.  CFL This  is  a  much  more   informational  page.   The  other  results  have   similar  information  to   what  we’re  trying  to   target.   81 @pearl_higgins
  82. 82. 82
  83. 83. Go  longer Monitor  Search   Console  for  relevant   modifiers  and  other   keywords  you  will   inevitably  rank  for,   and  modify  as   needed.   83 @pearl_higgins
  84. 84. Be  careful   with  how  you   select  titles   and  tell  your   story. 84 @pearl_higgins
  85. 85. Giant  Balls  of  Bacteria  Pile  Up
  86. 86. Format 86
  87. 87. Contently  content  type  study Contently  published  a   review  of  types  of   content  its  customers   had  requested  over   the  past  year. “More  granularly,  we   see  that  brands   reaching  a  certain   level  of  maturity  are   driving  this  increase   in  multimedia  and   long-­‐‑form  content.” 87 @pearl_higgins
  88. 88. How  do  I  want  my  audience  to  feel? vs.   88 @pearl_higgins
  89. 89. On  a  small  scale Think  about   what  you  might   be  able  to   illustrate,  and   package  as   shareable,   digestible   content. 89 @pearl_higgins
  90. 90. On  a  small  scale… words 90
  91. 91. On  a  large  scale 91 @pearl_higgins
  92. 92. 92
  93. 93. 93
  94. 94. 94
  95. 95. 95
  96. 96. Think  in  campaigns This  quiz  was  taken  over   30,000  times,  garnered   over  20,000  visits  to  the   blog,  and  the  topic  will   yield  9  separate  blog   topics  from  each  related   comparison.   96 @pearl_higgins
  97. 97. Be  true  to  the  format  the   content  wants. 97 @pearl_higgins
  98. 98. Be  flexible  with  the  presentation Even  for  more  intense   studies  or  articles   that  need  long-­‐‑form   narrative,  consider   the  illustrated   component.   98 @pearl_higgins
  99. 99. Invest  in  better  format  even  if   it  means  less  content.   99 @pearl_higgins
  100. 100. Authenticity 100
  101. 101. Stay  in  your  sphere  of   knowledge  and  relevancy,  tap   into  HOW  people  are  using   your  product or  service.   101 @pearl_higgins
  102. 102. 102
  103. 103. But  have  fun  with  it.   103 @pearl_higgins
  104. 104. 104
  105. 105. 105 https://www.warbyparker.com/buy-­‐‑a-­‐‑pair-­‐‑give-­‐‑a-­‐‑pair
  106. 106. Harry’s 106 @pearl_higgins Blog  is  dedicated  to   men’s  grooming  and   profiles  of  prominent   men  of  style. The  key…  it  doesn’t  pitch   while  telling  the  story.  
  107. 107. Harry’s 107 @pearl_higgins
  108. 108. Play  with  relevancy,  but  focus   on  where  you  are   authoritatively,  and  how  that   aligns  with  your  community.   108 @pearl_higgins
  109. 109. Community 109
  110. 110. Don’t  be  scared  of  your   audience.   110 @pearl_higgins
  111. 111. Audience  is  the  key  to  persona   By  engaging  with  your  audience  actively  through   outreach,  promotion,  and  social  campaigns,  you  can   gather  more  information  about  who  your  community   really  is.   Many  brands  also  frame  these  campaigns  in  such  a  way   that  they  are  able  to  utilize  the  stories  of  their  audience   to  further  their  identity  and  brand  story.   111 @pearl_higgins
  112. 112. 112 @pearl_higgins Plot DeliveryAudience
  113. 113. Gather  your  audience’s  stories   on  your  properties. 113 @pearl_higgins
  114. 114. 114
  115. 115. With  platforms   like  Instagram   and  the  use  of   hashtags,  it’s   easier  than   ever  to  engage   and  then  re-­‐‑ purpose   content   created  by   your   community.     115 @pearl_higgins
  116. 116. Or,  invite  them  to  share  them  on  their  own   platforms.   116 @pearl_higgins
  117. 117. 117
  118. 118. 118 words
  119. 119. The  more  you  interact  with   your  audience,  the  richer  your   story  will  become.   119 @pearl_higgins

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