On Friday, November 15 our content marketer Marvin gave his presentation "Once upon a timeline" on visual storytelling during Social Media Week Holland. That morning he made a clear statement by telling the audience that static content really should be a thing of the past. Here's why...
This year's global theme of Social Media Week is: "Stories - with great influence comes great responsibility". In 2020, almost five billion people will be connected if we look at the growth in the number of social media users worldwide. That makes social media an influential platform for storytelling. And our timelines are being flooded with stories, from both people and brands.
The benefit of social media is that everyone has been given a voice. The downside of social media is that everyone has been given a voice. The promotional video from Social Media Week Holland nicely reflects how we currently distribute and consume stories on social media. As snackable content. Bite-sized content snacks that quickly satisfy our hunger for information and entertainment.
People and brands all have become storytellers, whether it's through a native post or via a story update. Especially now with the popularity of influencers: people have become brands, while brands want to behave like people. So with a big influence comes a big responsibility with the stories we tell.
The benefit about social media is that it everyone has been given a voice. The downside of social media is that everyone has been given a voice.
Marvin elaborated on this in his presentation. Does the volatility of a social media timeline still offer enough room to tell a story? Because on social media, brands and companies have become very good at creating compelling stories in a snackable format. But how do they accomplish the same outside of a social media timeline?
Ephemeral content, such as stories on Instagram and Facebook, is hugely popular. But with an eye to the future: which media forms keep their heads above water in the battle for our attention? How can we continue to tell stories, outside of social media, to inform, inspire and convince people more effectively?
The problem is that consumers no longer enter through the front door of company websites. Thanks to social media and advertising they nowadays usually climb in through the window or the chimney. Stories from brands and companies no longer live only within the walls of their own website. Content can be found everywhere and is continuously available at our disposal.
An example: earlier this year public broadcaster NOS won a Grand SpinAward with their interactive stories about depression and telephone addiction. This media form reflects an interesting trend: immersive storytelling. A form in which you become part of the content through active participation. An attractive way to give stories shape and meaning. It grabs the attention while you are actively engaging with the content.
Question: as a company, do you still send out PDF files to potential customers? Our point exactly. Much marketing and sales content still are distributed as static content to date. In addition, it's never very mobile-friendly in terms of design and use. And that, of course, does not fit in with the experience that brands and companies want to communicate. You want the content experience to be right from start to finish.
The content experience is the total of 1) the environment in which the content lives, 2) how it is structured and 3) how it encourages prospects and customers to engage with your company. We often spend a lot of time, money and effort in social media telling stories. But what about the rest of the content that lives in and around the website, such as white papers, ebooks or brochures?
Fortunately, there is no golden wrapper to tell a story. We have numerous digital channels and platforms to chose from to help us tell our story. But at the same time, we also want the coherence of all those stories to coincide so that the overall storyline and experience is correct.
When information is cheap, attention becomes expensive
Because let's be honest: our time online and attention is scarce. So it's time to give back more attention to..well, our attention. How? By offering better context experiences. These days, it's considered very special already when you get attention for your content, through whatever medium. And once you have that attention, cherish it and give the recipient something of value in return. Something the reader really needs or is waiting for. Like the example below: a product page that is presented in a 'snackable' format to display a narrative about the new AirPods Pro.
The good news is: consumers don't mind paying attention to content from brands and companies. But they do want something in return; something that "enriches" their lives. The purpose of content, therefore, shifts from impressions to expressions. Content that delivers value to the reader, the value they seek at that time.
If content is king, let design be its castle.
Because companies often have enough content in-house. A Gartner survey says that more than 50 percent of brands have started reforming their strategy by investing heavily in optimising the customer and content experience. It is a matter of reusing the content in the most effective way.
So let's take a look at all of the content that you already have; from infographics, landing pages to white papers. Can you, for example, replace texts with supporting visuals? Fact is, we process visuals in just a tenth of a second, as opposed to understanding 100 words in a minute. We also remember visual information better than just text. So make it snackable!
And how much of your content is still offered as a static download? For example, the PDF was invented 25 years ago as a digital alternative to print. Have you ever opened a PDF on a smartphone? Exactly. So if we look at how we communicate and want to consume content, this isn't the best content experience you want to deliver to keep your audiences' attention.
Therefore, consider converting this static content to digital publications. Because the magic combination of a good story, presented in an attractive form, is the content experience that everyone wants to pursue. An additional advantage, the content becomes measurable! Immersive storytelling gives the reader the opportunity to become part of the story in an environment where they can respond to the content. And those responses translate into valuable data.
From passive reader to active participant
Immersive storytelling and snackable content offer interactive content experiences, in contrast to static content. Thanks to the application of interactive elements and its design, you can turn a passive reader into an active participant of your content. You involve them in an activity: they provide answers, make choices and discover new scenarios and information in a digital environment in their own way.
In this way, they themselves effectively contribute to the meaning and value of the content itself. Because if you convert static content into digital publications, you will also find out what works and what doesn't because it has become measurable. The impact of this type of content is reflected in metrics such as reading and clicking behaviour: average session duration, scroll depth, click-through rate, bounce and even conversion percentages. With both quantitative and qualitative data, you can now better assess how the content contributes to the needs of your target group.
How greater the attention, the greater the chance to improve the relationship with your audience. And a better relationship ultimately pays off in positive results of the content marketing objectives. Because every time someone comes across your content, you are delivering a content experience. Make sure that all content together completes the overall picture. So first determine what the story is and then how you will tell it.
So what is your story? Let's make content experiences great again!
P.S. Thank you for your valuable attention!