The following post was written by Lindsay LeCain and Theresa Masnik, Racepoint Group Account Executives. Connect with Lindsay and Theresa on Twitter.
Last week, in the bowels of the Boston Public Library, PR Newswire presented a half-day session on the importance of “Employing Visual Content for Compelling Storytelling.” One of the presenters, Andrew Davis (@TPLDrew), had a particularly compelling Prezi in which he addressed the three “simple” (read: not easy) rules for successful storytelling. Here is a brief summary of his presentation:
Three Simple Rules for Excellent Storytelling
Build Suspense: Build anxiety about what will happen. Great storytelling is creating suspense. Viewers don’t want to look away because they feel the need to see what happens at the end. To showcase this concept, Davis presented a compelling case study about Juicing and Juicers. The campaign, sponsored by Breville (an Australian-based appliance manufacturer), was designed to get more people (men in particular) interested and invested in the juicing movement (fruits and vegetables, not HGH). So the company worked with Joe Cross, an Aussie on a mission to lose weight and get healthy. How did he do it? He rented a car and drove across the US. His road trip, however, was not a fast-food-eat-it when-and-where-you-can-get-it, but a “juicing across America adventure” wherein he shared the struggles and successes of his new lifestyle. The adventure was then made into a movie, titled, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”. And people got it. Breville, the company sponsoring the trip and paying to promote the film, had seen stagnant sales in their juicers until about three weeks after the film was released on Netflix. Within weeks, the company sold out of juicers—not just in Australia or the US, but worldwide.
If you want to make an impact and show that your story is making an impact, you have to make the spikes at the times when they aren’t naturally spiking. (A great tool for this is Google Insights for Search)
What if your moment of inspiration is tied directly to the suspense you build? Ask yourself, is there inherent suspense in the story I’m telling?
Foster Aspiration: Inspire people to be better. Help people live the lifestyle they want. To show this notion of “fostering aspiration,” Davis showed the audience the story of “extreme” music video creator and producer, Devin Graham and the partnership he forged with Oregon-based lifestyle brand, Vooray. To encourage this kind of lifestyle embrace, Vooray worked with Graham to host just about the coolest non-event I have ever seen. Graham invited his friends (some really, really, really good looking friends) and had a party—on a lake in the middle of Oregon. Here is what that looks like. Graham set the day’s festivities to music and in doing so, managed to perfectly capture the cutting edge of cool in a way that did not feel the least bit commercial. As a result of this one video, the company went from limited distribution and fewer than one million in sales to international distribution and over 10 million in sales, in a few short weeks. This is the power of content that shows viewers how to live the life they want to lead.
What if your moment of inspiration is tied to your audiences aspirations? Aspire to create great exciting events and content that relates to that audience.
Ask yourself, what does my audience aspire to do or be?
Drive Empathy: Encourage people to perceive your product or service as something less commercial and a bit more human. A perfect example of this is the work IBM did with Jeopardy. Having Watson compete against “regular” people (i.e., the most successful individuals to ever play the game: Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter) viewers, regardless of their feelings about the concept before the show, found themselves empathizing with the machine. Win or lose, those watching (myself included) felt compassion for this amazing technological feat. This audacious request, proposed by the masterminds at IBM, was designed to make viewers feel something about the international consulting and mainframe computer manufacturer. After the appearance on Jeopardy, the company saw a 20% increase in consulting service sale—within one quarter of the show’s airdate. The subsequent coverage of Watson and the brains behind the supercomputer was made into a NOVA– The Smartest Machine on Earth—and although 90% of the content in this PBS feature was shot by IBM (generally a no-no in the world of independent journalism) the company managed to successfully show viewers the intense work and the process of development the company faced.
What if I was emotionally invested in your product or service?
Ask yourself: Can I empathize with the product?
The moral of the presentation can be summed up by this simple question and answer: What if we created moments of inspiration?
Ignore best practices and focus entirely on telling great stories.
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 “10th anniversary” episode features some of the newest members of the Racepoint family: Mary Alfieri, Mike Nourie and Samantha Toole. We’re very excited to have them on board to help us celebrate such a milestone achievement. Please have a listen as we discuss:
Are they becoming too complicated? Obsolete? Do you use an app to help you with passwords?
2. Kim & Kanye’s Baby
Have you been following the media circus? What do you think of Kanye’s new album?
3. Facebook Hashtags
Have you already been using them on Facebook? Was it only a matter of time? What are they good for?
4. Looking Forward to Summer 2013
What are you looking forward to most this summer?
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?
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 Tyler Kizner, Erin Knapp, Amanda Nadile and Carrie Weiss. Please have a listen as we discuss:
1. Employers asking for Facebook passwords
Do you think certain employers should be allowed to ask potential employees for passwords to access their social media accounts?
Twitter’s video service has already been used to apply for jobs, what are some other possible uses for this platform?
Have you tried this new Chrome application that lets users insert hidden messages into their Facebook photos? Does it seem useful to you, or just another gimmick?
4. Zombie Apocalypse
TV shows like The Walking Dead and upcoming movies like World War Z seem to be quite popular these days – what do you think you would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?
Please feel free to give us a shout out with questions or comments via Twitter!
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 is a guest post by Nate Towne. Follow him on Twitter at @Fancy_Lad.
You may be seeing a lot of buzz regarding Pheed, the new “Twitter Killer” that launched on October 1st – it looks and acts a lot like Twitter, but gives users (a.k.a. Pheeders) the option to share content for free or at a premium, either by applying a monthly subscription fee to their channel or setting up a pay-per-view live broadcast event. Users can charge anywhere from $1.99 to $34.99 per view, or $1.99 to $34.99 per month. The platform offers standard sharing features such as text, photos and videos, but also incorporates “stuff” (its word, not mine) like voice-notes, audio clips and live-broadcasting.
Not only is Pheed is going for that premium-content-gotta-have-it feel, it’s also positioning itself as the edgy new social startup, featuring the backside of what looks like Adam Levine’s head from Maroon 5 on its homepage. (But sadly, it is not.) This in itself should scare many older, more conservative users away right off the bat, leaving us fresh young things with that MySpace experience we’ve been missing since that platform bombed many moons ago. (Though Justin Timberlake is doing his darnedest to revive it. Maybe. The jury’s still out on that one.)
So who cares about Pheed? Well, if you’re a celebrity trying to cash in on premium content, you just might – the site seems to be a magnet for hip hop moguls and mogulettes. Same if you’re an Instant YouTube Star like these guys – you might want to start up your own pheed feed to try to monetize your videos. Some brands, like record labels and other content-and-taste makers could also benefit. Case in point it looks like everyone’s trying to figure out the value; the “big names” of celebrity content producers like Slash and Chris Brown are on Pheed, but have activity levels just south of minimal. BUT, and here’s the big but, they’ll only stay on Pheed if YOU go there and start buying.
Otherwise you might as well just Pheed your time into the ol’ toilet because you just wasted precious resources on the next big social thing that never happened. Wouldn’t be the first time, won’t be the last.
But you’re probably here for deeper insights, so here goes:
You can make money – if Pheed attracts users who will open their wallets to digital content.
Pheed has more bells and whistles than Twitter.
You can position yourself as cooler-than-cool by eschewing Twitter for this new social channel, being the first on your block to start a Pheed.
You can easily share Pheed content on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
Like any social network, you can gain insights into things.
The content is entertaining, though dubious.
Pheeds are rated for content and measured for level of activity, meaning users know what they’re getting into before they sign up for a pheed.
It’s an unknown and could become a big time suck if nobody is there to help you monetize your content.
Pheed is a ghost town compared to Twitter. Only 1 million users on Pheed vs. more than 500 million on Twitter.
There’s no ability to easily share content with Instagram or Tumblr – for now.
The content is dubious, though entertaining.
Not primetime ready for main stream brands.
Like any social network, you can gain insight into things. Mostly Paris Hilton’s things. *shudder*
Only time will tell if Pheed will get off the ground. With quality content producers including Big Sean, who has produced nothing, Spammers (that didn’t take long), and paparazzi’s putting up premium channels so they can get paid more for stalking your favorite celebs, you can count me out for now. When the Muppets start a Pheed, then I’ll consider joining. (I’d best not hold my breath.)
Social media has become the norm on the campaign trail, and is quickly becoming entrenched on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress and their staffers alike have taken to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and any number of other social media sites to interact with constituents, sway public opinion and counter political opponents.
Social media is even pushing traditional media aside as the venue for politicians and political parties alike to attack their opponents – often harshly. In recent months, both sides of the aisle have been engaged in an ongoing battle for women’s votes. Speaker John Boehner took this fight to Twitter, disputing Vice President Joe Biden’s recent claims of a Republican “war on women.” This month’s disappointing jobs numbers opened the window for yet more attacks by Republicans with Speaker Boehner tweeting to his 300,000 followers that “today’s #jobs report is more evidence President Obama’s policies aren’t working for families & small businesses.”
With new political battles being waged daily on social media, and political parties fighting to gain the upper hand, new opportunities are being created for citizens, companies and non-profits alike to engage legislators and their staffs through these same platforms. Because of security screening and volume, most mail and emails are not opened on Capitol Hill until well after a critical vote is taken. The immediacy of social media gives it an edge, and with so many Members and their staff taking part, this has become one of the best ways for getting your voice heard. It’s also increasingly effective because members of the media are now following Twitter discussions on Capitol Hill and watching discussions taking place.
For local citizens who need immediate assistance with an issue in their community, there has never been a better way to directly interact with their Senator and Member of Congress – and the same is also true for companies and non-profits who are looking for new ways to amplify their voice, or in the case of some small businesses, join the conversation. By interacting with elected representatives and their staffs in social media circles were they walk, companies are influencing media coverage, opinions and votes on legislation, and in some cases – election results.
In person meetings, mail and email will always play an important role in political offices. They remain an important way for constituents to get the services they need and deserve. However, those who adapt to these changing times effectively and adopt social media as a new tool will find new successes – while those who do not may pay the costly price of being left behind.
This article originally appeared in Racepoint Group’s Capital Ideas Newsletter. If you would like to receive subsequent issues, please use the following sign-up form.
This is a guest post by Nate Towne. Follow him on Twitter @Fancy_Lad.
Pinterest, schminterest! What’s with all the buzz about this new social media channel? Is it worth your precious web surfing time? And how can you use it to build your business so you can feel less guilt about surfing boards on Pinterest on the company dime? Read on, fearless reader – you might just learn something (I swear it’s not my fault if you do.).
Our good pals at Mashable report Pinterest is currently enjoying the limelight as one of the top 10 social networks – and it’s still (technically) invite only. Though getting an invite is pretty easy if you’re on Twitter or Google+ – heck, just ask me and I’ll invite you. Or you can ask Pinterest for an invite –I’m betting dollars to donuts they’re not going to turn you down. I’m a sharing kinda guy. The premise behind Pinterest is pretty basic, it’s a cloud-based social media network that lets you organize and share all the cool discoveries you find on the web. Pinheads (yes, I’m coining that term) use pinboards to showcase their mad style, plan vacation shenanigans, organize their favorite recipes, share gifting ideas, and among other things, drive traffic to ecommerce sites – *gasp!*
What makes Pinterest a social network? It allows Pinheads (see? I’m running with it!) to browse pins and boards created by other Pinheads. Trust me, you could spend days browsing other Pinhead’s pinboards – they are a constant source of amusement, amazement and discovery. And if you’re an entrepreneurial kind of person, the two words that stand out here are “discover” and “share.” Who wouldn’t want Pinheads to discover and share your coolness on this hotter than hot internet destination?
Let’s face it – if you build it, and it’s cool, and it reaches MILLIONS of potential customers, businesses will come. But should your business jump on the bandwagon? According to ComScore’s recent data on Pinterest, the site has nearly five million users and shows no signs of stopping in its race to the top. Data from Google Ad Planner reports nearly 1.5 million unique users are visiting Pinterest daily, and spending more than 14 minutes on the site per visit (If you ask me, this number is a little low – Pinterest is *that* addictive!). If that data isn’t enough to get you thinking, digest this new insight from Shareaholic via GigaOM: Pinterest is now driving more web traffic referrals than Google+ (not surprising), on par with Twitter referrals (rather surprising!). But juicy and compelling data aside, is Pinterest right for your business?
That’s a question for another post – in fact, my next few posts will break down why brands should consider converting to Pinterest , or not as the case may be. I promise you dear reader, it will be worth the wait. And if not, I’ll gladly give you your money back…