A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Engage Digital Storytelling conference in NYC on behalf of Racepoint Group’s Digital Consumer Practice. This full-day event was studded with top executives from HBO, MTV, Esquire Magazine, Facebook, Buzzfeed and many more awesomely relevant brands. While waiting for the event to begin, I met a sports publicist, a mobile developer, an entrepreneur in graphic design, and a public relations pro who had traveled all the way from Switzerland – a true representation of how digital storytelling is applicable across a web of interconnected industries all striving for brand relevance and success.
Our Digital Consumer Practice team found attending this event to be a real treat, especially considering how digital storytelling constantly comes into play for our clients. We’re always looking for new and creative ways to tell a client’s story, and creativity was definitely delivered in large doses during each session.
As I began writing this recap, I realized there was far too much interesting content from the conference to fit into just one post. As a result, this is the first post in a series on Digital Storytelling, one which highlights three distinctly unique perspectives on how technology is the new blank canvas for storytelling.
Perspective 1: Adam Berger, Creative Strategist, Facebook
Adam’s creative strategy is built around an important foundational belief – people don’t change. Sure, technology and the mediums through which we consume content are constantly evolving, but ultimately, people will remain constant in their core interests, needs and desires. From the newspaper to online content to social media, people always apply what they know from the previous medium to the next. You’ll see this in the repurposing of print articles online, and the subsequent repurposing of these posts on social media. The message really hasn’t changed, it’s just the medium. And ultimately, no matter what medium is being used, brands can’t forget that it’s about the people.
So how do we build brand identity in a world where the medium for message dissemination is changing faster than ever before? The answer: cater to the feed. Most digital content today is consumed through feeds, meaning the most effective stories will be designed as if the feed is the most important canvas of all. There are three important rules to designing a storytelling strategy for these new canvasses, which brands should pay special attention to:
Be respectful of people’s feeds. Don’t clog feeds with content that isn’t both a part of your brand narrative and useful to people.
Start with the brief, and realize that sharing is really just talking. Approach feed content as a conversation, instead of a blast of information.
Respond in real-time. Brands need to be timely and relevant every day, while providing rich, deep storytelling.
Perspective 2: Brian Ballard, CEO, APX Labs
Brian’s approach to digital storytelling is to design it with the technology of the future in mind. Over the next five years, he forecasts people will be interacting with each other in a completely different way due to an innovation you’ve probably heard of at this point: Smart Glasses.
Smart glasses such as Google Glass create a real-time digital layer that overlays information over the real world. They’re designed to be on and with you everywhere you go, meaning the story isn’t confined to the times when you’re checking your smartphone or laptop. Every time someone looks at something, a story can be told that is specifically tailored to their preferences, allowing for more immersive storytelling. For example, two people can look at the exact same thing, whether it’s a storefront or a commercial while watching TV, and see two totally different things based on what part of the story they care about most. This is a whole new level of social, where brands can choose not only how much to share, but exactly when and how quickly.
Perspective 3: Nick Hooker, Creative Director, Framestore
Most people are extremely familiar with the work of Framestore, including special and visual effects in major motion films such as Iron Man 3, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln. The problem is no one knows they are looking at Framestore’s work. As soon as a director comes to them, the art department gets to work on establishing the DNA of the film through mind-blowing graphics. Unfortunately, the graphics are top secret and never revealed to the public. In order to lift the curtain between the audience and the awesome graphics their creative designers produce, Nick decided to embark on a bold new experiment in storytelling – giving the entire story to the audience.
In partnership with io9, Framestore started creating and progressively publishing images from the art department with zero accompanying narrative. They then asked the audience to build a narrative around the image. Framestore then selected five submissions and asked the community to select the best, from which the art department designed another image, which was posted and carried through the same process, until ultimately there was an entire story built purely by crowdsourcing and engaging the audience. Nick touts the success of this experiment and relates it to how brands can harness the innate storytelling power of their audience and take lead from them.
He provided the example of a piece of art on DeviantArt that depicted a teddy bear over a sleeping child’s head fighting off a bad dream with a sword. This image spoke to people so much and received so many shares and engagements that Hollywood bought the rights to it and will make a movie about it. This is a prime example of recognizing the mysterious connection that sometimes happens between an audience and a story from the grassroots up. Allowing an audience to steer you in the direction of what it is they really care about and then harnessing that to build a narrative creates a true, deep connection.
What is your approach to digital storytelling for your brand? What have you learned along the way?
More than ever personal electronics are taking center stage in our leisure time. From watching movies and television to catching
Fill out the survey below for a chance to win 1 of 3 iTunes giftcards!
up that book you’ve been meaning to get to, it’s becoming more and more likely that you’ll have a tablet, smartphone or laptop in tow.
With spring in full bloom and summer on the horizon, Racepoint Group wants to take a look at just how you plan to integrate tech into your summer fun. Spare a moment and submit your answers on this short survey we’ve put together and let us know how personal technology plays a role in your life.
Oh, and we’ll be giving out three $25 iTunes gift cards to randomly selected respondents to help kick start their summer movie fun!
Racepoint Group is very excited to present to you another episode of RPG Live, where a group of Racepoint Group employees discuss the latest culturally relevant issues and trends we’re seeing in the news and pop culture, hosted by our own Evan Siff. This week’s episode features a very special guest from RPG’s Hong Kong office, Emma Matuschka (coolest Kiwi in the world), Ben Haber, Nick Liberati and Ally Peebles. Please have a listen as we discuss:
1. Social Media During Disasters
Does social media help or hurt more during times of distress and tragedy?
Is social media too powerful in the wrong hands? What (if anything) can be done to prevent occurrences like the AP Twitter hack (and the subsequent stock market dip) from happening?
3. Google Glass
Have you tried anything like it yet? What do you think of the concept, is it inevitable that we’ll all be wearing these in a couple years? Will you be an early adopter?
4. Emma Loves Boston
What has been the best/worst part of Emma’s trip to Boston?
When last week’s horrific events occurred in Boston, people who were at the marathon (or in the Boston area) were flooded with calls, texts and messages, asking if they were safe. During this time I was driving home from the Marathon with my wife, who had finished the race, and she spent the entire car ride answering texts and phone calls to both of our phones, letting people know we were our of harm’s way.
Once we arrived home I want on Facebook and put up a message, letting our friends and family know we were home safe. While the calls and texts still came in, the post was able to inform many people at once, and the message was also passed through cousins to older family members that weren’t on Facebook:
As I scanned through my Facebook news feed, I saw countless other friends and acquiescence who posted something similar. Some were at the marathon, others work or live in/around Boston. In either case, Facebook became the place to ensure everyone that you were safe.
When the September 11th attacks occurred in 2001, there wasn’t Facebook or another social network that people were using. The only way to find out if someone was safe was through a phone call, text message, email or word of mouth. As a result, it took folks much longer to discover if their friends and family were safe, especially considering the cell towers were overwhelmed by the amount of calls being made. In Boston last week the cell towers were again overwhelmed at times, but social (and smartphones) provided a way around that.
The impact that Facebook has on today’s world is unprecedented. Never before have so many people been connected in one way, with the ability to share information to one’s near-entire social circle so quickly and efficiently. While many people complain about Facebook’s privacy changes, news feed updates and other annoyances, there’s no doubting the importance that the social network brings in moments like these.
This morning upon logging into Facebook, I was greeted with the following status at the top of my news feed:
I’m used to seeing statuses about my friends’ dogs urinating, not urinating, wearing sunglasses, and getting dog-shamed. I don’t mind it – in fact I usually find it at the very least amusing. What I’m not used to seeing is a MySpace infiltration of emoticons in my feed. That’s cool, I guess, but couldn’t I just do that with the standard emoticons on Facebook? I was doing just fine with happy, sad, really happy and the heart. Now I can be… great? Wonderful? Better? I’m riding a roller coaster of emotion, but Facebook only allows me to use one at once.
The fun doesn’t stop there, folks! You can also tell the world what you’re watching, listening to, drinking and eating (see what I did there?) – but only one at a time. So you can tell the world that you’re drinking an Old Speckled Hen, but you can’t simultaneously tell the world you’re happy about it. Unless, of course, you do it the old-fashioned way:
I even got an emoticon in there! I have to imagine that everything Facebook lets me tag gets sold to countless companies and will allow for even more targeted advertising. You’re eating ice cream, you say? Check out these new Ben & Jerry’s flavors! Reading Game of Thrones? Check out the HBO series! While many of us say what we “like” in our profiles, that information can get stale. For instance, if you joined Facebook as a college freshman in 2005 and said you love frat parties, it’s possible that you’ve lost interest in them since then. If you don’t update your likes regularly, however, it’s outdated information for advertisers. What you said you were listening to five minutes ago is an entirely different story.
Some folks get defensive about social networks selling their data to advertisers. While I don’t like the idea, I doubt much of my information is private any more. And as far as advertising is concerned, I’d much rather see ads for goods and services that I actually find interesting as opposed to, say, mail-order brides. Whether I actually use the feature is yet to be determined.
Racepoint Group is very excited to present to you another episode of RPG Live, where a group of Racepoint Group employees discuss the latest culturally relevant issues and trends we’re seeing in the news and pop culture, hosted by our own Evan Siff. This week’s guests include Ashley Crutchfield, Colleen McCarthy and Lori Niquette. Please have a listen as we discuss:
1. Netflix, Hulu Plus, Original Content
Do you subscribe? How do you feel about their original content and which devices do you watch on?
2. iPhone vs. Android
Have you recently made a switch? What features would you like to see on the Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5S? Are phones now becoming too big?
3. March Madness
Who do you have winning the NCAA men’s basketball tournament? Have you been following via an app on your smartphone? (Note: this recording is from yesterday, 3/28 – Miami was crushed last night by Marquette 71-61, once again destroying Evan’s bracket hopes and dreams…)
4. Spring has Sprung
What are you looking forward to most about Spring?
Please feel free to give us a shout out with questions or comments via Twitter!
The premise is pretty simple, or “so obvious, you’ll kick yourself for not thinking of it first,” quoth Fast Co. Contributor Mark Wilson (will I?): Pick which of your Facebook friends you’d like to hook up with. They won’t find out unless they’re also using the app and selected you too, which results in mutual, private notifications via email. What you two rabbits do afterward is no one’s business but your own.
Once you’ve connected via Facebook, you’re presented with a pin board of friends of the opposite sex (an LGBT version is in the works, according to the anonymous creators). Check off your “To-do” list (horrible pun intended), sit back and wait. Gives an added meaning to the term “easy lay,” doesn’t it?
Fast Co. claims this is the most simple, disruptive app to hit Facebook in some time, but I wouldn’t consider the idea groundbreaking. Tinder “finds out who likes you nearby and connects you with them if you’re also interested. It’s all anonymous until someone you like, likes you back.” The OKCupid app shows you who’s nearby, but it’s not anonymous. Grindr caters to the gay and bi male community.
Admittedly Bang With Friends is the most explicit. And maybe the most enabling – after all, how many people do you add on Facebook at least partially because you find them attractive? For those of you who remember Facebook when it was still limited to colleges and universities, didn’t you add almost all 600 people who lived in your dorm because “they seem nice,” even though you’d never met them in person? On that note, what will Bang With Friends do to STD occurrences on college campuses? Finally, is this more or less creepy than waiting for your friends to break up with their significant others so that you can hit on them?
This past weekend I went camping just north of Conway, NH. As a self-proclaimed city girl, I had never been camping. Sleeping on the ground? An endless supply of bugs and wild animals? No cell phone service? I think I’ll stay in my air conditioned house and watch some Netflix, thanks.
But, I somehow found myself packing a sleeping bag, industrial bug spray and beef jerky for four days in the New Hampshire wilderness. Honestly, I had come to terms with the whole tent and fire part, but found myself in a sort of denial about having to digitally disengage for four days (four whole days!)
The spot where I was camping had no allusions of cell phone coverage. Not a speck of 3G was to be found, never mind a WiFi hotspot. My iPhone cheerily announced to me that it had “No Service” interspersed with brief periods of “E” (also known as the Edge network or, as I refer to it, “what is this Internet of which you speak?”)
Like most of my colleagues in public relations, my constant connection to the digital world has crossed from a professional necessity in to a personal reality. I find myself falling asleep to Pinterest and waking up to check my email. I use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites on my mobile phone throughout the day and I’ve stopped carrying notebooks and cameras in favor of my compact iPhone.
So, how did I, a self-proclaimed Internet junkie, fare with four days of no digital connection to the outside world?
Pre-Day One: Unsure of what my Internet situation would be, I emailed my work colleagues and media contacts to let them know I might be out of pocket for the weekend. I apologized for any inconvenience and made jokes about my fears of bear attacks (who would know if I was attacked if I couldn’t updated my Facebook status?!).
Day One: As we drove up the White Mountain Highway, I saw my 4G bars slowly slip, turn to to 3G and then disappear for good. I fought the process, telling myself that “E” wouldn’t be so bad, of course I would still be able to tweet and check email! In my personal life, I’ve taken to using my mobile phone to track my meals daily, so after a BBQ lunch I found myself lost as to how many calories were in the chicken I just ate. Throughout the day, as we set up our tent, cooked dinner and swam by the lake, I stubbornly kept my phone with me, convinced that I’d be able to get any urgent calls or messages. Later, when I tried to send a text message to my family to let them know I was safe, it took a stunning three hours to go through.
Day Two: I carried my phone with me, but began using it less and less, relying on it as a camera more than as a phone. I stopped trying to access Facebook, and took three minutes to input my food for the day when I got a precious spot of signal in a nearby town.
Day Three: My phone magically stayed in my tent for the entire day. Instead of seeing everything through the lens of my camera phone, I took it in first hand. I stopped caring about how many calories I ate (what’s an extra s’more when you’re on vacation anyway?) and didn’t even think about Twitter or Facebook updates.
Day Four: On my way home, I hit the point where my signal returned and I was suddenly inundated with text messages, emails, calendar reminders and social media updates. I managed to put my phone down and not worry about any of it for the rest of the drive. It wasn’t until late that night that I sorted through to figure out what needed my immediate attention, everything else I left.
The verdict? Although tough at first, I think my digital diet was good for me. It reminded me that not everything begins and ends with my iPhone. Truth be told, not having it around left me surprisingly less stressed than I would have been otherwise.
Taking some time off, forced or not, made me realize how important it is to put the phone down every now and then. Yesterday was my first day back and I almost miss my digital intermission. But, so far I’ve found that I’ve been more cognizant of my phone usage. On my train ride home yesterday I opted to read a book (a real one!) instead of scanning through Tumblr.
Have you ever taken a break from being digitally connected? If so, what was your experience?
Taken with my iPhone in Glen, NH before abandoning it in my tent.
Facebook groups are spaces where you can share things with the people who care about them most. You can use groups to connect with important sets of people like your family, soccer team or book club.
Starting [July 11] when you visit a group, you can view who’s seen each post. This way you can stay updated on the group’s activity.
For example, in your soccer group you can post the new practice time and then see who got the update.
A short update and a generally quiet one, to be sure, but it’s still generating a bit of a stir, mostly along the lines of “ZOMG SOON I WON’T BE ABLE TO CREEP MY EX’S FACEBOOK PAGE ANYMORE BECAUSE HE OR SHE WILL SEE IT! CAPS LOCK!” Fair enough. Facebook may roll this feature out to more of the site’s facets – like who has viewed your pictures from that fun, albeit maybe a little shameful, weekend in Key West. While I won’t be thrilled either, let’s be honest: if that does happen, everyone is going to talk about how terrible the update is, threaten to quit Facebook and join Google+ for real this time,* and then everyone moves on with their lives (and another tumbleweed skips across Main Street in Google+).
Let’s back up for two seconds. Number one: Facebook hasn’t done this yet. Chill out! Number two: as TheNextWeb points out, in theory, we are, in fact, friends with our Facebook friends, so who cares, right? Number three (and perhaps most importantly): there are privacy controls to consider! Generally, when we publish something to Facebook, we want folks to look at it. Or at least some folks (see my above example about Key West photos). For the folks we don’t want to see everything, add them to a Facebook List. In case you’re not familiar, it’s the same idea as Google+: select who gets to see what updates. Maybe your friends, but not your coworkers are allowed to check out all the shots you did while you were in Key West.
As for who you’re creeping on Facebook… That’s another issue. Again, IF this feature hits Facebook Profiles, there’s a chance that they’ll follow the LinkedIn and online dating model of “I can’t see you if you can’t see me.” Many sites force a two-way street for non-paying members, where they have the option to browse anonymously on the condition that they can’t view who is visiting their page. I’d hope that Facebook would follow suit. If not, then you’ll just have to censor yourself. Do the photos and wall posts from your ex’s new significant other bug you out? Here’s a crazy idea: unsubscribe or unfriend.
But again: let’s cross that bridge when we get there, shall we? Unless you’d like to speculate in the comments, that is!
*I actually do try to use Google+, even if not often. Circle me!
Being tied to a desk is painful, but in the world of social media community management it’s basically a death sentence. Social media is meant to be an instantaneous platform, allowing brands the unique opportunity to address their customers concerns in real-time. Because of this, being able to manage your brands online presence whilst mobile has become a social media imperative.
Facebook has unveiled an application for iOS that will help make social media community management more functional while on the go. Facebook Pages Manager will allow users to respond, post and comment on their brand pages, upload statuses and photos, and view statistics and Insights.
According to MobileBurn, the application had an international soft launch last month and is now also available in the United States. Additionally, since announcing the application, Mashable’s article has received a wide variety of responses, with the vast majority of readers wondering when it will be available for Android:
The launch of this application will have huge implications for community brand managers, allowing for the ability to quickly engage with users at any time.
If you manage a brand page, how will the release of this new application impact how you use Facebook?