Once Upon a Semester: Storytelling as a Framework for Higher Ed Web Marketing


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Keynote from HighEdWeb Arkansas, July 22, 2011

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  • I know we spend a lot of our days avoiding mission statements like the plague, but I’m actually going to talk to you about our department’s mission statement.This is not just a mission that applies to our content side. Half of our team is developers. We look at the Tufts story as infusing everything we do, from our mobile website to our feature stories to our social media workshops to our web templates to the backend of our news site. Every pixel, every word and every line of code should support the Tufts story.
  • Stories are a prism for understanding - People process information in story format, she explained. Stories are powerful because they activate the empathic part of our brain; the readers insert themselves in the narrative. That’s why, for instance, profiles are particularly effective forms of content on a website.
  • people tend to “storicize” abstract shapes and reflect ourselves in the objects around us. (She says that yes, there is Tetris fanfiction out there.) She also gave the example of electrical sockets, a thoroughly inanimate object devoid of story. But if you cock your head, a socket looks like a face. Objects can tell stories.
  • In a landmark 1944 study, 34 humans — Massachusetts college students actually, though subsequent research suggests they could have been just about anyone — were shown a short film and asked what was happening in it. The film showed two triangles and a circle moving across a two-dimensional surface. The only other object onscreen was a stationary rectangle, partially open on one side.Only one of the test subjects saw this scene for what it was: geometric shapes moving across a plane. Everyone else came up with elaborate narratives to explain what the movements were about. Typically, the participants viewed the triangles as two men fighting and the circle as a woman trying to escape the bigger, bullying triangle. Instead of registering inanimate shapes, they imagined humans with vivid inner lives. The circle was “worried.” The circle and the little triangle were “innocent young things.” The big triangle was “blinded by rage and frustration.”
  • Emotions are powerful because emotions can influence
  • The root cause of these symptoms is the fact that execution focuses on the how and what of a product. But in a world where consumers are inundated with choices, products that want to be noticed and adopted must be rooted in the why.A product should provide an experience or service that adds value to someone's life through fulfilling a need or satisfying a desire. The ultimate question then becomes: who identifies that value? - The first goal of a product storyteller is to facilitate collaboration and co-creation- Not only do product storytellers identify the intended product value, they also share and evangelize this story throughout their organizations. - Daniel Pink: "like design, [story] is becoming a key way for individuals and entrepreneurs to distinguish their goods and services in a crowded marketplace."
  • These things are fundamental, but easy to forget. We work in amazing places – crucibles for discovery and growth. These things are important. They want to go to college, they want to become teachers, doctors, artists, librarians. They want to support their alma mater. They want to teach and conduct research. They want to support research.
  • We are all fanfiction writers – are we adhering to canon?
  • We are all fanfiction writers, so is everyone in our community – are we adhering to canon?Brand resides in our audience – if everyone’s doing their job right, we should just be reflecting them.Need to tell stories that mean something to our audience
  • Once Upon a Semester: Storytelling as a Framework for Higher Ed Web Marketing

    1. 1. Georgy Cohen<br />@radiofreegeorgy<br />@TuftsUniversity<br />@MeetContent<br />Storytelling as<br /> a Framework<br />for Higher Ed<br />Web Marketing<br />#hewebar<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/4927859168/<br />
    2. 2.  Where I grew up<br />
    3. 3. Ant and shark 1/3<br />Credit: @tsand’s daughter / @iceboxart<br />
    4. 4. Ant and shark 2/3<br />Credit: @tsand’s daughter / @iceboxart<br />
    5. 5. Ant and shark 3/3<br />Credit: @tsand’s daughter / @iceboxart<br />
    6. 6.
    7. 7.
    8. 8.
    9. 9.
    10. 10. “<br />Web Communications' mission is to use the Web and emerging technologies to engage our audience with the Tufts storyand to enable our partners across the university to do the same.<br />
    11. 11. What are<br />stories?<br />
    12. 12.
    13. 13. http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />
    14. 14.
    15. 15. National Storytelling Network<br />“<br />Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination.<br />www.storynet.org/resources/whatisstorytelling.html<br />
    16. 16. (Some random site)<br />“<br />A story is the graphing of a character's emotional experience from the moment it begins to its logical conclusion.<br />http://members.fortunecity.com/nadabs/literature-storystructure.html<br />
    17. 17. Ordinary people doing<br />extraordinary things<br />
    18. 18. Daniel Pink, <br />“A Whole New Mind”<br />“<br />[Stories] are important cognitive events, for they encapsulate, into one compact package, information, knowledge, context and emotion.<br />
    19. 19. Why stories<br />matter<br />
    20. 20. Storytelling was the first<br />social media platform.<br />
    21. 21. Storytelling was the first<br />social media platform.<br />OMG! Srsly??<br />
    22. 22. Storytelling is an act of <br />community, sharing <br />values and knowledge<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonpratt/4807746068/<br />
    23. 23. Stories draw strength from the number of people<br />who share them.<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/turneround/5398112759/<br />
    24. 24. The parable of Lot’s wife<br />
    25. 25. The parable of Lot’s wife<br />…is also found in Greek, Jewish, Indian, French Canadian, Lithuanian, Chinese, Eskimo, Polynesian, Hawaiian, South American and African folklore. <br />Source: Archetypes and motifs in folklore and literature: a handbook, Jane Garry, Hasan M. El-Shamy<br />
    26. 26. http://www.flickr.com/photos/turneround/5398112759/<br />
    27. 27. We see <br />in stories.<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/turneround/5398112759/<br />
    28. 28. We see<br />ourselves <br />in stories.<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/turneround/5398112759/<br />
    29. 29. We tend to “storicize” abstract shapes<br />and seekourselves in the objects around us.<br />Credit: Clara Fernández-Vara, Postdoctoral Researcher, Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/turneround/5398112759/<br />
    30. 30. Heider, F., & Simmel, M. (1944) An experimental study in apparent behavior. The American Journal of Psychology, 57, 243-259.<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTNmLt7QX8E<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/turneround/5398112759/<br />
    31. 31.
    32. 32. http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/94693506@N00/149781946/<br />
    33. 33. Lessons of <br />The Like Log<br />“<br />The best stories — the most inherently share-worthy stories — are the ones for which it would be almost weird to email them to someone — or tweet them to someone, or whatever — without an introductory “WOW” or “WHOA” or “WTF.”<br />http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/03/lessons-of-the-like-log-the-big-story-and-the-nuances-of-shareability/<br />
    34. 34. Shareability index <br />for news releases<br />“<br />…Releases with the elements of a good news story—a little drama, a person fighting for what is right, a villain—have scores four to five times higher than those about the success of a program, he says. <br />http://chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Rehab-Their-Web-Sites/127170/<br />
    35. 35. Photo / Melody Ko, Tufts University<br />
    36. 36. “<br />I'm a sophomore at Tufts, and I just read today's tufts.edu profile on the woman working with the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Council. I wanted to say how proud I am to go to a school that would put an article like that on the main school site without any fuss. My friend's sister visited from another university this weekend, and she mentioned how her school website featured pictures of cheerleaders at a football game, while ours had an article about Ghana, and now gay rights. This is why I'm so happy to be here. Thank you =) <br />E-mail from a sophomore, March 31, 2008<br />
    37. 37. Dogeared page #1:<br />Empathy<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />
    38. 38. Structure<br />of a story<br />
    39. 39. Kim Goodwin, Confab 2011<br />“Storytelling by Design”<br />Scenario: “A plausible story about a persona using the future product or service in a specific situation.”<br />Scenarios have all the key story elements: Character, Conflict, Plot, Resolution<br />http://www.slideshare.net/KimGoodwin/storytelling-by-design-scenarios-talk-at-confab-2011<br />
    40. 40. (Tweet links to http://www.agilemodeling.com/artifacts/userStory.htm)<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />
    41. 41. Why We Need Storytellers at the Heart of Product Dev.<br />“<br />In a world where consumers are inundated with choices, products that want to be noticed and adopted must be rooted in the why. <br />http://uxmag.com/strategy/why-we-need-storytellers-at-the-heart-of-product-development<br />
    42. 42. story arc (n.)<br />“<br />A story arc is an extended or continuing storyline in episodic storytelling media … The purpose of a story arc is to move a character or a situation from one state to another; in other words, to effect change. <br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Story_arc<br />
    43. 43. story arc (n.)<br />“<br />A story arc is an extended or continuing storyline in episodic storytelling media … The purpose of a story arc is to move a character or a situation from one state to another; in other words, to effect change. <br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Story_arc<br />
    44. 44. Sounds an awful lot like….<br />Effective content<br />Good UX<br />Clean usability<br />Crisp functionality<br />
    45. 45. Sounds an awful lot like….<br />All of the above<br />Effective content<br />Good UX<br />Clean usability<br />Crisp functionality<br />
    46. 46. Sounds an awful lot like….<br />All of the above *<br />Effective content<br />Good UX<br />Clean usability<br />Crisp functionality <br />* Also called a holistic approach toweb development<br />
    47. 47. Dogeared page #2:<br />Holistic<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />
    48. 48. http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />
    49. 49. One type of story arc:<br />The hero’s journey<br />
    50. 50. 12 stages of the hero’s journey:<br />Ordinary World<br />Call to Adventure<br />Refusal<br />Meeting with the Mentor<br />Crossing the Threshold<br />Tests, Allies, Enemies<br />Approach to Inmost Cave<br />Ordeal<br />Reward<br /> The Road Back<br /> Resurrection<br /> Return with Elixir<br />
    51. 51.
    52. 52. Ordinary people doing<br />extraordinary things<br />
    53. 53. Students:<br /><ul><li> Applying to college
    54. 54. Learning what they </li></ul>want to do with life<br /><ul><li> Tutoring local kids
    55. 55. Staging a musical</li></ul>Alumni:<br /><ul><li> Donating to supporta new laboratory
    56. 56. Reconnecting with </li></ul>old friends<br /><ul><li> Giving students advice</li></ul>Faculty:<br /><ul><li> Curing diseases
    57. 57. Teaching tomorrow’sleaders
    58. 58. Providing context tocurrent events</li></ul>Staff:<br /><ul><li> Balancing budgets
    59. 59. Developing programs
    60. 60. Organizing events
    61. 61. Recruiting students</li></li></ul><li>“<br />Is our product <br />King Arthur<br />or Excalibur?<br /><ul><li>Ron Ploof</li></ul>http://www.mpdailyfix.com/<br />is-your-product-king-arthur-or-excalibur/<br />
    62. 62. User <br /> Us<br />
    63. 63. ↖ Unicorns<br />User <br /> Us<br />
    64. 64.
    65. 65. Frodo: Go back, Sam. I’m going to Mordor alone.<br />Sam: Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.<br />The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring<br />
    66. 66. http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/94693506@N00/149781946/<br />
    67. 67. The Shire must truly be a great realm, Master Gamgee, where gardeners are held in high honor. <br /><ul><li> Captain Faramir, </li></ul>The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/94693506@N00/149781946/<br />
    68. 68. Storytelling Rules & Writing Better Press Releases<br />“<br />Rule 1.  Know your audience.<br />Rule 2. Give your audience what they need to achieve their goal.<br />Rule 3.  Help your audience tell the world about your story.<br />http://blog.prnewswire.com/2011/03/28/storytelling-rules-writing-better-press-releases/<br />
    69. 69. Dogeared page #3:<br />User as Hero<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />
    70. 70. Stories<br />and us<br />
    71. 71. Erin Kissane, “The Elements <br />of Content Strategy”<br />“<br />For anyone who communicates as a profession, stories are the ultimate hack.<br />
    72. 72. Tell Them a Story<br />“<br />1) A prophet was not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house and 2) parables increased understanding.…I still have the charts and graphs, but accompanying them now are the stories.<br />http://case.typepad.com/case_social_media/2011/03/tellthemastory.html<br />
    73. 73.
    74. 74. Many stories have morals.<br />
    75. 75. Many stories have morals.<br />Our stories require purpose.<br />
    76. 76. Many stories have morals.<br />Our stories require purpose.<br />(Some may call this “strategy.”)<br />
    77. 77.
    78. 78.
    79. 79. (Pro tip: A brand is just a $5 word for a story)<br />
    80. 80. Storytelling and<br />Branding<br />“<br />Employees must believe and ‘own’ the story as they will ultimately be the ones to represent the company's brand values.<br />Successful advertising delivers meaningful messages about the brand, often in sequence, taking the message’s recipients on a journey.<br />
    81. 81. Storytelling and<br />Branding<br />“<br />There is a constant need to adapt a story in a fast-paced society where change is inevitable. <br />A successful brand character can adopt human qualities that allow it to engage with an audience on an emotional level. <br />http://www.the-storytellers.com/blog/217<br />
    82. 82. http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />
    83. 83. The Art of Immersion: The Star Wars Generation<br />“<br />If you’re going to tell stories beyond what you see in the films, the minute they contradict each other your house falls apart. If you kill off a character and then try to revive him, it’s going to be bogus.<br />http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/03/star-wars-generation/all/1<br />
    84. 84. http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />
    85. 85. Dogeared page #4:<br />Purpose<br />http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />
    86. 86. Why We<br />Matter<br />
    87. 87. Ordinary people doing<br />extraordinary things<br />
    88. 88. http://www.flickr.com/photos/lenore-m/2515800654/<br />
    89. 89. <ul><li>Empathy
    90. 90. Holistic approach
    91. 91. User as hero
    92. 92. Purpose</li></ul>http://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/244207662/lightbox/<br />
    93. 93. Dr. Seuss, “The Lorax”<br />“<br />Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.<br />(h/t @epsteada)<br />
    94. 94. Ant and shark 3/3<br />Credit: @tsand’s daughter / @iceboxart<br />
    95. 95. J.D. Salinger, <br />“Seymour: An Introduction”<br />“<br />Give me a story that just makes me unreasonably vigilant. Keep me up till five only because all your stars are out, and for no other reason. <br />
    96. 96. J.D. Salinger, <br />“Seymour: An Introduction”<br />“<br />Give me a story that just makes me unreasonably vigilant. Keep me up till five only because all your stars are out, and for no other reason. <br />Thank you.<br />@radiofreegeorgy<br />