Posts tagged ‘storytelling’

April 4th, 2011

Storytelling: consumers’ intimacy as the new scope of work?

by Laurent François


For the last months, many brands have dived into storytelling-way-of-life instead of focusing on products’ benefits.

A pressure to build “stories” as digital re-shaped our economy of attention; once you’re done with a coupon, you need to maintain a link with diverse publics. You need to be able to activate them. The “story” would be an asset to keep an interest going, moreoever in a digital journey: you share your daily bread with your relatives, with your buddies, and in the meantime you pick and chose your next holidays. It amplifies our beings, and brands want to interfere within this tree of choices. As a comparison, you never really leave a book after you’ve read the 3 first chapters.

But if the marketing statement is simple at first sight, it’s utterly complicated -and to date disappointing- to implement and orchestrate

A reader as a shareholder of the story’s success

A story is paradoxically based on unsaid. It’s a principle developped by Umberto Eco in 1979 in Lector in Fabula.

In order to make a story work, the reader must be brought to a whole universe (as in an encyclopedia) and to feel like if he had a responsibility in the curse of the story.

générer un texte signifie mettre en oeuvre une stratégie dont font partie les prévisions des mouvements de l’autre – comme dans toute stratégie“.

Interpretative & autonomous mechanism are intrinsic to the story. Non-existing characters become so “existing” in our minds that we can anticipate their next steps or don’t be surprised by an attitude in the following episodes. More interesting: these characters keep living in our brains out of the written text! Digital world increases this statement: the reader is a shareholder or the story’s reputation. If he feels engaged, he’ll talk about it and will recruit, will debate, will bring the story’s universe to new borders.

It’s pretty rare to consider new ads to be great stories. Nike came and said “I have a story” but don’t give any real clue that it’s true (and the amount of RT to an ad on YouTube is just crap to explain it). We’re on a static ad, that’s all.

The reader as an intimate actor of a public creation

When we read a story, we’re alone, even if you live it with other people. That’s the reason why it’s so important to ask to your friends if they’ve liked a movie or a book. We perceive on our own a story.

Brands dare to directly outreach our intimacy, in order to force us to give our feelings. It’s the case with Nivea, in the US, with their “Cupid’s Challenge“; a category at the same level than coupons in the diverse social spaces of  the brand.

Kiss” platform, with the help of 2 US TV middle stars, Nick Lachey & Vanessa Minnillo wants to coach our love life (so telling what is good or bad on this purpose); wants to viralize people’s love (vs money or gifts); wants to promote Nivea massage’s products, which are supposed to endeavour libido.

A tricky mechanism which has some limits: once you’re done with your 3 RT of celebrity, you remember that Nivea is first & foremost a soap. And that Cupid’s Challenge’s chapter 2 is an empty bottle. Because as in real TV, the script is so not real.

Consumer: a hierarchy of values?

So here’s the deal: isn’t there a way between brands which only talk about themselves and brands which only try to reach our intimacies?

Maybe to go back to basics, as New Scientist reminds us:it’s not about manipulation but aspirations and fullfillments. For instance, 20 years ago, Snickers, a brand owned by Mars in France, decided to build some sports playgrounds in under-privileged cities. A means to bring a concrete chapter to the brand’s story. To help buddies who want to practice some sports in the evenings; and for some of them, to be spotted by major basketball temps. It was 20 years ago. It was alreay pervasive creativity.

March 28th, 2011

Digitally influenced: “50% of Tweets Consumed Are Created by 20K Elite”

by Laurent François


A strong study by Yahoo! on contents produced & consumed on twitter.

Researchers at Yahoo! say that 50% of the tweets we read are produced by just 20 000 users wordlwide.

  • only 15% of tweets that ordinary users get are directly from the professional media, whereas they’re the most active content-producers
    –  it’s not a fail but a normal rate: a generalist media talk about a wide diversity of topics, and not 100% topics interest a wide diversity of people. Hubs of conversation can happen in a second life, through search engines
    – if 100% of contents that are produced were RT by billions of people, there’ll be a kind of psychiatric traffic jam. It’s a good news that people keep on filtering
  • 20K users (or 0.05% of all Twitter users) attract 50% of the attention. Among them: bloggers, celebrities. A new influential loop: you can interact on diverse interests with diverse hubs, it’s no longer fully segmenter. Sharing and opinions can arise, where you don’t really expect them
  • Conversations are unequal, asymetrical and scandalously one way: you only follow back 20% of people who follow you

To conclude, it’s pretty funny that twitter success is more on what you listen (so the quality of contents producers) than what you discuss. If I’m so demanding on good media, it’s also a way to create information dependency. Who said that verticality was dead? A star-blogger, maybe.

December 29th, 2010

Digital influence: 2011 as a full step towards Brand Storytelling

by Laurent François

Ages ago (5 years!) we suddenly discovered that online conversations were absolutely changing the influential deal: anyone in the street could potentially threaten a brand, some people might organize themselves to accuse, attack another group. Times said that “You” were the person of the year in 2006.

Some months later: viral campaigns, influential projects. The financial & economic downturn and the rise of online strong communities: BlogHer, the Ford come-back led by John Bell and his team. A whole creativity boom and the hope that thanks to Social Media, a new era for citizenship could happen. Also because of the amazing Barack Obama campaign in the US: we’ve also hoped in Europe that such a movement could rise.

2010: a kind of strange climate for Social Media observers; the feeling that many things have been done and that Social Media can be disappointing. Look at the Wikileaks affair: does it really change the deal, at the end for the final citizen? Diplomacy will be more & more secret. So as rare information will be always more walled.

My point is that Social Media is not disappointing at all: it’s the story you tell which can be.

And that’s the good news: we’ve probably been a bit lazy these years, as marketers, focusing on leverages instead of what a brand has to say or cannot say. Before using the “social pace” in which we as citizen-consumers live, we need to work again on the story we want to affirm. And a story means 3 or 4 stakeholders or means:

  1. a pitch: all the brands cannot sell “happiness” and I think that it’s a bit over-rated to think that a brand can sell the absolute love among people. Brands can therefore sell realitic ideas or projects, simplicity could be better than non-pragmatic concepts (think about the 1960s ads which were full of pragmatism and entertainment)
  2. Actors: and here comes your organisation: you need to make people endorse a kind of “deep acting”. Read on this perticular point this study on “surface acting and deep acting as determinants of emotional exhaustion & peer-rated service delivery” and this article in French. Your story starts with your people: social media can be a useful tool to create hubs & bridges around a core set of values that your people vote or help
  3. Audiences & / or publics: you share your reputation and the good news is that your story can fit with very diverse groups of people with diverse objectives. Big brands haven’t really imagined enough manners to make these people contribute: it’s not about a blog, about a social network, about a campaign. It’s about how your brand as a process could talk, grow, at different stages, with these groups of people. Think R&D: couldn’t you make more people enter your labs? Think about CSR: don’t you think that your consumers could enter the definition of your mission earlier, instead of just being exposed to your messages? Think about “backstage”: how many times did you invite some students in your office?

In this big story-manufactury, digital influence can rapidly become a kind of big GPS for your organization; because it’s transmedia, because it’s about the internet which is the global communication platform; because with digital influence, you don’t have the right to be blind because “it’s not your job”. People with hands on your brand. People with brands on your story. People with digital real needs on the services you deliver.

What a challenge.