It’s Friday! The Fix awakens! (Or is that The Force Awakens?) I’m sure we’re all aware that the latest Star Wars film premiers today, and I for one am glowing like a lightsaber with excitement. Apparently others are, too, because this week, one of our pundits writes about the content marketing lessons we can learn from Star Wars. What else do we have this week? We look at 2016 forecasts, discuss the brands that had the best year ever in 2015, and talk interactive storytelling. It’s a great day for the Friday Fix, so read on (and may the Force be with you)!
Is everyone else as “shut the front door” excited about the new Star Wars as I am? As we all know, Star Wars: The Force Awakens starts today, which marks the moment a new generation of fans gets indoctrinated and that Christmas comes a week early for lifelong fans (hello!). I digress. So, in this piece, Mandeep Grover explores the content marketing lessons we can learn from Star Wars (I prefer to think of it as we’re learning to use the Force). But seriously, check out Mandeep’s article to see what the 40 year-old story franchise is doing that we can learn from.
Rhetoric of late has been favorable to the idea that data and storytelling are a match made in content marketing heaven. Of course, anything that sounds like putting math and fun together makes me skeptical (like when mom would put cheese sauce on steamed Brussels sprouts skeptical). Well, I now eat Brussels sprouts (with the right recipe, they’re fabulous), and as it turns out, data and storytelling are the same way. Alexandra Samuel explains that to tell a story with data, you must first find your data and then let the story develop around that; however, data can’t overwhelm the story; rather, it should direct it. Check out Alexandra’s article as it also covers data and storytelling on multiple platforms (like Pinterest) and mediums (with visuals).
I for one am thrilled to read Avi Zimak’s article and to learn that brands are about to be large and in charge of their own destinies. So, what’s going to happen in 2016? According to Avi, more agencies are going to take greater control over their content distribution and will likely do so via story sequencing and audience shaping, which Avi says is ironically similar to traditional advertising (but you know, with content).
Jerry Daykin starts this piece by saying that this (2015) is the year social media marketing started to grow up (which kind of reminds me of those Cheez-It commercials). What does he mean? He means that investments on social media channels were on the uptick, but he also says that paid advertisement via social media didn’t resonate nearly as powerfully as the handful of brands that “stopped chasing engagement” and went with fewer stories of greater quality and meaning instead. Jerry’s picks for brands that “won” in 2015 are: Lexus, Nike Women, Coke’s Clash of Clans: Revenge, John Lewis’ Man on the Moon Christmas ad, and Oreo. What do you think? Anyone else who should make the winner’s circle?
In the interest of preserving her business for yet another year (and beyond) chief executive and founding partner of Oystercatchers Suki Thompson examines what’s going to have the biggest impact in 2016. For starters, she says marketing will rise in the boardroom noting that in 2011, only 11% of chief executives had marketing backgrounds; in 2015, that number was 25%. Customers will be at the heart of business (something we’ve been waxing on for the past year), and diversity will deepen across the marketing industry. Check out the article as Suki explores all of these in depth and reveals a couple of other savvy predictions.
I’m probably the only one here who remembers the episode of Clarissa Explains it All where Clarissa’s computer wrote a poem that she got a lot of recognition for, and I was relieved that while computers were super savvy, they weren’t particularly brilliant writers. Cut to 2015 and Taylor Mallory Holland’s article in which we learn that most people “can’t distinguish between news reports written by journalists and those generated by sophisticated humans.” (Obviously, this makes me nervous as my only fall back is 20 years of tap and obsolete jazz training; I say ‘obsolete’ because I’m pretty sure we’re past the “jazz hands” of the 90s.) Thankfully, Taylor says that we (writers) aren’t going to be replaced, but there’s a contingency there. What? Read Taylor’s article and find out.
Surely many who pursued business marketing degrees and career paths 5, 10, or more years ago never envisioned the extent to which they’d need to rely on storytellers or storytelling. If you’re one of those for whom storytelling is, well, not your forte, Ashley Taylor Anderson comes to the rescue with a little higher education in the form of interactive storytelling 101 (after all, today’s most compelling stories are interactive). I should add that even as one who majored in storytelling, I found this article to be smartly written and packed with useful tips and insights.
Visual content creation is a veritable must-do at this stage; if you’re not visual, chances are, you’re missing out on connecting with your audience. In this article, Ann Smarty provides seven steps to get your content from being “invisible” to visual. Like all good content marketing, you have to start with a plan. Once you have a plan, your ideation can start to take shape. Thankfully, if the creation part is something that’s held you back from going visual in the past, Ann shares several resources to help you show and tell your story.
Chris Gillespie is preaching to the choir on this one. I –for one—remember things infinitely better when they’re shared through story; not only that, I feel a greater connection to those things. For example, I’m a mom, and those Luvs commercials…yep, they’re not only 100% accurate, but they’re hilarious. My kid licked a post while waiting to see Santa the other day. I wasn’t nearly as grossed out as I should’ve been because well, once you’ve seen what I’ve seen, pole licking isn’t pretty tame. Anyway, I connect with that diaper brand (even though I buy a different brand for other reasons…sorry, Luvs). That’s what Chris is getting at in this piece. If you tell a story that has sequencing, characters, conflict, and conclusion, you’re going to make an impact.
We’ve dropped the ‘A-word’ a few times in this week’s Fix, so David Kirkpatrick’s article is ultra-timely. Per David, advertising isn’t going anywhere, and at the end of the day, all of our efforts that we don’t call advertising (including storytelling) but that have the same end-of-the-road goal as advertising may as well be thusly titled (well, sort of). He explores audiences who consume content, what they put their faith in, and the fine line we need to use when it comes to the A-word.
In two weeks, the year will officially be 2016, the proverbial slate will be blank, and it will be time to reinvent a few things. Start 2016 with a renewed effort at improving your organic reach. Thanks to constantly changing algorithms, organically reaching audiences via social media platforms has become a bit more challenging (kind of the way losing weight in your 30s is much harder than it was in your 20s). While we don’t have any weight loss tips (other than keep sticking to that resolution…it will eventually pay off), we do have tips for improving your organic reach in 2016, which is much better than any kale and stem cell smoothie recipe we could throw at you.
Amy Delcambre is a freelance content and travel writer from Mobile, Alabama with a Master's in Creative Writing. When she's not painting the page with nouns, verbs, and adverbs, she's slaying grammar beasts as a freelance editor and saving the world one sentence fragment at a time teaching university writing classes. In her free time, Amy enjoys cooking, traveling, and testing which plant species best survive prolonged neglect.
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