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Double Stuffed: Explaining the Addiction Cycle Behind Oreo's Branded Content


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The brain science behind social media storytelling is summed up in five steps. Oreo's "Dunk in the Dark" Tweet and their "Daily Twist" campaign are great examples of how brands can create addictive content on Facebook and Twitter. This deck explains the addiction cycle and how brands can tap into the viewers' brain chemistry to keep them coming back for more. A 5-step blueprint is included. Ed King is a storytelling consultant. His blog lives at

Published in: Social Media

Double Stuffed: Explaining the Addiction Cycle Behind Oreo's Branded Content

  1. 1. ad·dic·tion: the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is physically or psychologically habit-forming.
  2. 2. To build psychologically addictive stories, let’s first take a look at how physical addiction works in the brain.
  3. 3. A cue is a logo, situation, feeling or event. Like seeing a bag of Oreos.
  4. 4. A Ritual is a subconscious pattern laid down in the brain. Like reaching for a glass of milk.
  5. 5. Activating the Pleasure Center occurs when the brain receives pleasure signals from certain stimuli. Like fat and sugar.
  6. 6. The reward kicks in when the dopamine rush leaves us euphoric. The seed is planted. The brain remembers and wants more.
  7. 7. Psychological or story addiction (AKA branded content) is based on a similar cycle as physical addiction. This is your brain on stories…
  8. 8. A cue could be turning to Facebook when bored, turning on the TV when getting home from work, or flipping open a novel on vacation.
  9. 9. the ritual could be reading a children’s book before bed, or scrolling through Twitter’s timeline looking for interesting posts.
  10. 10. the Pleasure Center gets activated when viewers fall under the influence of a story. They encounter something unexpected, timely, culturally relevant, interesting or funny.
  11. 11. Reward kicks in when the released dopamine (among other chemicals) sends a feeling of euphoria and empathy through the body.
  12. 12. So far, storytelling or psychological addiction looks just like physical addiction in the brain. Except for 2 important differences…
  13. 13. First, the Reward must be Variable. To keep the viewer’s attention time after time, the story must keep the brain guessing. Without intrigue and curiosity, the brain does not release dopamine.
  14. 14. The last part of the story addiction cycle is getting the viewer to engage and participate in the action. Engagement brings the viewer into the brand’s story, and sets the tone for future interactions.
  15. 15. Recap: Here is the 5-step roadmap for creating branded content people crave…
  16. 16. Ed King is chief storyteller at Hooked on Story, a storytelling consultancy for brands who want to improve the way they craft and tell their brand’s story. He lives in Atlanta and can be reached at: 404.641.9417 @StayingInDroves