Storytelling is magic for brands

2015_03_17-Storytelling-For-Startups
via

The explosive growth of social media and content marketing means more opportunities to promote your brand. With so many companies vying for attention in the digital sphere, how do you stand out? The answer lies in engaging storytelling.

Creating a story around your product allows you to shape consumer brand perception. After years of declining sales, Apple rebounded after its 1997 “Think different” rebranding campaign.

shapiro_Apple

Apple relied on its outsider status and imagery of iconic visionaries to compel customers to “rebel” by buying its products. The company successfully gambled on the concept of individuality – rather than technical capabilities – to sell computers.

At its core, storytelling isn’t a sales pitch. It’s meant to emotionally connect with consumers, in the process building loyalty, attracting new customers, and increasing brand visibility.

Beyond traditional television or print ads, the digital age has equipped marketers with new platforms for visual storytelling. Social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat allow even the smallest company to gain a greater amount of exposure than with typical advertising – thanks to free or affordable posting options – with the added benefit of possible post amplification when fans share its content.

It’s key to follow a few guidelines for savvy social media storytelling.

  1. Use arresting visuals. Visual content, like photos, receive 40 times more shares and 90 percent more clicks than text-only content.
  2. Infuse your posts with personality. Use an informal voice in your writing to attract and retain your audience.
  3. Create magnetic characters. Your customers should root for your protagonist, even if it’s just short-form content, like Microsoft’s Instagram post above.
  4. Don’t give it all away. Posting teasers can lead to additional offline or mobile marketing opportunities.

How have you successfully used storytelling to sell your brand?

Advertisements

Brits may say “Cheerio” to Instagram, Facebook, Flickr photo rights

via Mashable
via Mashable

Brits, take notice: your Instagram, Facebook, and Flickr photos may now be up for grabs.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act includes sweeping changes concerning social media image ownership. It passed parliament and last week, it received Royal Assent to become law.

Says Digital Trends reporter Francis Bea, “The clause that’s a cause for genuine concern is the ‘Orphan Works and Extended Collective Licensing Clause 79,’ and according to The Register, which is calling it the ‘Instagram Act,’ it means that photos whose owners cannot be found can be used by anyone.”

Because most photos in the social media sphere lack metadata or other identifying information, a company or individual can claim it as an orphan after briefly searching for an owner. They will then be able to sublicense the image.

The only alternative to protect yourself and your photos is to register each image through an official database, PLUS.

The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, whose signatories include a majority of the world’s nations, are required by law to recognize the makers’ rights of ownership for works – like photos posted to social media sites – in a more diligent manner than the new law. What will be the fallout? It might all boil down to how Berne countries react to British products using photos obtained through the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act.

What is your reaction to this controversial new law?

What makes Vine so hot?

Reblogged from Mashable.com – an insightful op-ed on the #4 app in the App Store. How do you think Vine will affect the social media landscape? – SS

by Chris Taylor

Vine-markerIt’s the kind of moment that comes rarely, but tech journalists live for it: a service is launched with little fanfare and receives a sudden, energetic burst of genuine buzz. Developers start remixing it in all kinds of fascinating ways. It’s supremely easy to use, and mobile, so we get hooked.

The technology itself is not new, but it is presented in a new and interesting form. It fosters creative competition. It starts to get traction in our lives.

The last time the tech world could agree this was happening was the launch of Instagram in 2010. We’d seen plenty of photo services before; Flickr had been around for the better part of a decade.

But here was one that was kind of a throwback to instant cameras, kind of something new, supremely social and creative in a quick and easy way.

It also resolutely refused to exist as anything other than an iPhone app. If you wanted to use it, you pulled your phone out of your pocket, took some snapshots and filtered them, or browsed the work of others. The fast-loading stream of Polaroid-like shots was a perfect match for a smartphone screen.

You hoped your gauzy efforts would rack up Likes from friends, of course. Who doesn’t crave that recognition? But you also felt like you were participating in an historic, global effort to document human life, one snap at a time.

In short, Instagram perfectly captured the ineffable shared something that 21st century Internet users have taken to calling “the now.”

Now here comes 2013’s hot contender, another iPhone app: Vine. It’s too early to tell if the service is going to blossom like Instagram did (the service has 90 million active users and counting, two and a half years after launch).

Vine is currently #4 in the App Store, beating out Google Maps and YouTube. It’s the top social networking app by far.

Why Vine Will Thrive: Three Words

One advantage Vine does have in its search for staying power is the enormous benefit of starting out with a major social service, Twitter, as a parent. (Instagram had to prove itself in the wild before it was snapped up by Facebook in a deal originally valued at $1 billion.)

And if anything, Vine is even better at capturing “the now” than Instagram.

Like Twitter, Vine benefits from an inherent limit. The parent company won’t let you transmit more than 140 characters of your brilliance at a time; Vine makes you shoot your video in six seconds or less. Those six seconds don’t have to be consecutive — you just start and stop recording by tapping on the screen — which can lead to all manner of interesting stop-motion animations, such as this heroic example from Mashable‘s own Jeremy Cabalona.

That means Vine is easily understandable, even mockable — as in this animation from the blog Willa’s World:

That’s fine. Instagram was consistently mocked as a purveyor of food photos. Twitter was consistently mocked as a stream of short “what I had for breakfast” updates. Neither stereotype stopped tremendous growth. Indeed, they may well have aided it.

What mattered in each case was that the service was easily summarized and differentiated. You could grok it instantly. You had a reason to try it. And here’s a good rule of thumb: if you can describe what makes a service different in three easy words — “filtered square photos,” perhaps, or “140 character updates,” or “six-second videos” — it has a good shot at taking off.

To put it another way, here’s how top Valley VC Marc Andreessen has described his process for deciding which companies to invest in: “I look for the thing people are laughing at, but is growing like a weed.”

Or, indeed, a vine.

Haven’t We Been Here Before?

Some argue that Cinemagram, or GIF creation tools like it, are better apps than Vine. Cinemagram has more functionality — you can, for example, create a GIF that loops back and forth in time, rather than repeating the way Vine does.

But that doesn’t really matter. Cinemagram and apps like it are riding a wider wave of animated GIFs. They’ve sacrificed differentiation to be part of a web trend. Can you honestly tell whether a GIF was created on Cinemagram? Do you care? Can you make the service sound unique in three words?

Vine videos are short, but they’re noticeably longer than most GIFs. There’s less of that jarring ADD sensation. You can pack a surprising amount of visual information into six seconds. And because it’s in a stream, you’re encouraged to move on to the next one rather than stare at the same video over and over.

GIFs are timeless; part of their appeal is they can be reused in online conversation over and over. Favorite GIFs become memes, and favorite memes become GIFs. But Vine’s appeal is almost the opposite. It’s raw footage, cinema verite. It’s not surprising that the first news Vine, a dolphin trapped in New York harbor, arrived almost immediately.

You can see that most clearly on a service like Vinepeek, which aggregates Vine videos in real time. The results are quotidian, but endlessly fascinating. A guy jumps for joy in a parking lot. A horse grazes in a field. Someone opens a Pop Tart. Someone bowls a strike.

All human (and non-human) life is here. It’s the now, in its purest distilled form.

Is Vine going to keep growing, or will it wilt? Share your predictions in the comments.