I have been researching podcasts across the data and insights arena for the last few months as I have really become intentional about content creation. Some of the questions I have are similar to the ones many across the podcasting spectrum have mentioned, and also the advertising industry as a whole is grappling with collectively.
I am interested in a few things, specifically with lots of questions:
We have been there before, in a meeting preparing to create a great healthcare communication campaign. We write the strategy and determine the tactics including many visual elements: video, imagery, social media posts, digital billboards. etc. It is time to schedule the video and photo shoots requiring the need to hire and recruit individuals to be featured in the photo and video deliverables.
You can feel it coming, and you have this undercurrent of worry. The photo and video sessions go really well, capturing lots of great content for the campaign. Then the bomb drops, you are reviewing all the great content and a voice in the room silences everyone, “you did not capture enough people of color.”
So I found this on a pr/marketing firm’s website…and I think they raise an interesting question. Let’s look at this statement:
“Successful companies tell their stories well. Multiple channels today allow for storytelling on many levels. Our team helps clients tell those stories in the traditional way as well as through the digital and social media channels. It’s one thing to get good publicity and another to leverage it. We also help clients navigate the choppy waters of storytelling in less than ideal situations. Our advice to clients is simple: Tell your own story (good, bad or ugly) and tell it fast or someone else will.”
Yes…so who is telling your story? You? Your organization? The people in the organization? What is a good story?
This is a question that I think resonates all content marketers. From my days in broadcast television news, we spent hours and hours discussion whether a story would generate enough interest to drive viewership. Now in the digital/social communication world, it is even more of a legitimate discussion.
In-order for organizations to take ownership of their brand message, they have to become their own content marketers. They have to create home bases for audiences to navigate and social strategies to generate conversation portals ultimately for content discovery.
It is possible…it is possible to measure success. I have been surrounded by groups that want to bring a visual context to their story. They enlist me to help find and tell those rich elements creating a meaningful story.
The idea of storytelling has become such a passé term. Each day I receive an email, see a pr strategy, get a insert in the my home mailbox advertising how to tell better stories. From rich pr strategies to complex marketing initiatives…we all want to tell better stories.
Groups invest tons of money into these initiatives yet sometimes measuring success is not part of the initial thinking. The hardest question…what is success. Or…is the term “success” an inappropriate representation for the need to see how the audiences interacted with the media.
Let’s think through the term “success” and consider a different lens. When I think of measurement and storytelling, I think in terms of impact and how the audience experienced the media.
From the very beginning, before the creative stage is implemented…we have to set goals. What do we want the media, (the story) to do and how can we measure the impact based on those goals.
Then, we have to identify the story that needs to be told. What is the message and how do we want it to influence the audience. Is this an awareness initiative or is it a marketing initiative?
Here are the fun questions:
1) Can we actually associate measurement to these goals? Well this mathematics graduate knows you can associate numbers/measurement to anything.
2) But, do we really care about all the data we want to collect?
3) Can we experience data overload? So much measurement we are not even sure what to do with the information…often times leaving us overwhelmed and less interested?
Maybe we should just focus our expectations…thus focus our data collection. OR…maybe we should focus on telling better stories?
The storytelling narrative…sounds like an oxymoron? Well…there is a narrative in the content marketing space, and the primary focus for these marketers –> who is going to own the storytelling digital narrative. Hmm…
Since digital content marketing has become a buzz word, mission statement, and a service to provide…more and more “expert” storytellers are emerging. I am finding more and more organizations touting the ability to leverage audiences using this practice of storytelling. Just do a Google search and Twitter search for the word “Storytelling”.
Yes…we all can tell a story…but to what degree do people really care? And what do we view as a story. As a former journalist, stories were and still are my life. For so many years…I thought I could tell a great story using a camera, microphone, and a computer.
This was my ethic until I met Bob Dotson…who I think is one of the best storytellers in broadcast journalism. He shared something with me that changed the way I approach every project I produce. He shared with me his philosophy during dinner one evening.
Stories are like an onion, and it is up to us to help the audience peel back the layers. He went on to explain that many people can tell a story, but is it really a story when only layer is revealed? True storytellers find stories with layers, ones that have deep meaning, deeper impacts, layers upon layers of little micro stories.
I love this idea of the onion and the storyteller’s burden to seek and find the truth in those layers. The true narrative lies in the connection of those layers as they are weaved together in a larger enterprise.
If you apply this idea of layers with content marketing, it is a perfect match. As content marketers, we know that it is not advantageous to only deliver the whole story at one time. If we can reveal each layer of a story, one link at a time, one picture at a time, one video at a time, one blog post at a time, one tweet at a time, etc…we can share a larger narrative that builds a larger digital brand.
We have the opportunity to expose a larger documentary, providing a path through this narrative (these micro-stories) revealing the thesis at the right time…the right moment.
So I thought I would share four things that I feel are a part of this larger storytelling narrative:
1) Finding the Story: The act of finding a story that you can see, hear, feel, and relate. This is the vital. We not only have to find the first layer, we have to dig deep. We have to search for the onion. The goal is to find that story that can not only reveal itself in layers, but also provide digital accessibility for the audience. We want to sprinkle the digital space…one layer at a time.
2) Telling the story: This is a part of the narrative where we bring the story to life. The art of articulating using words, visuals, sounds…elements that reach the audience in the fashion where they can see, hear, and feel the layers reveal themselves.
3) Seeking the Story: As storytellers, we seek to tell, yet consumers seek to find a story. There is the part of the narrative where consumers use language to search for the story. Whether listening in a conversation or typing words into google, we must articulate what we want consumers to find. We have to give consumers language to use to find our stories! So as marketers of this larger narrative, we have to digitally brand our stories. How can we find and share the proper keywords, revealing them to the audience so that they find our story at the right moment in time.
4) Sharing the Story: This is the part where pitching the story is important. Once we tell…we have to make the story repeatable in an efficient, expedient fashion. So articulating a status update, tweet, or sharing at the dinner table is a part of the sharing narrative. From word-of-mouth (WOM) to digital WOM, sharing is a strategy. How can we trickle each layer of the story so that we give the audiences reason to continually come back for more.