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Content vs context

In his last video, Gary talks a lot about selecting the correct media for engaging your audience. Here, we’re going to look at this in a bit more detail, particularly the idea of nuancing your story depending on which platform you are using.

According to a 2015 study by Microsoft, our attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 (around the time the ‘mobile revolution’ began) to just 8 seconds today. At the same time our ability to multi-task is improving. 79% of study respondents regularly use ‘dual screens’ – for example, watching TV while using a smartphone.

So how can we engage our time-poor, attention-short modern audience who consume at ‘hyperspeed’?

In his talk “Stop Storytelling like it’s 2007” for 99U, Gary Vaynerchuk argues that we need to:

1. Respect the context as much as the content.

‘Social media’ isn’t a single group to be treated the same way. Each individual platform needs to be respected for what it does, who uses it, and more importantly, why they use it.

For example, Facebook is all about immersing yourself in a social context – catching up with friends, having familiar conversations and sharing, whereas we might look to Tumblr if we love animated GIFs, or Pinterest if we’re looking for aspirational and inspirational content.

Yes, you might have a fantastic story, but in order for your audience to care, you need to tailor how it’s communicated for each platform and select the appropriate platform for your narrative. Ensure your story uses the correct tone and form and encourages relevant interaction.

2. Understand how we actually consume media.

To capture our audience we need to be telling our stories “where our eyeballs and ears actually are” – use the relevant platforms that we know they are using.

3. Bring value to our audience.

Audiences are media savvy and switched on to ‘skipping’ ads. In order to catch attention and avoid audiences turning off to our messaging – switching screens, hitting ‘skip’ or leaving a platform – we need to ensure we’re giving them something they actually want, and value.

There is a balance between the ‘ask’ – what do you want your audience to do: buy, subscribe, donate, etc. – and the ‘give’ – what are we bringing to the interaction? What can the audience value and take from our communication? We need to ‘give’ more than we ‘ask’.

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Storytelling in Advertising


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