The Perfect Modern Digital Media Story
Everyone from my hairdresser to CNN was talking about “that dress” on Friday. It even trumped the otherwise sure-thing news stories, like Madonna’s fall and the Kardashians’ new $100M contract.
Like the rest of the world, I went crazy for a day trying to figure out why people saw different colors than I saw.
It was an optical illusion, of sorts. But, more importantly, it was the perfect modern media story — and it offers today’s marketers vital lessons on how to get attention in the new world of digital marketing.
My favorite article on the whole phenomenon was written by journalist Ben Fischer at the New York Business Journal.
Thanks to his article, I understand better what every marketer — and marketing writer — needs to know about how to rivet people’s attention in today’s crowded world of content.
As a freelance marketing writer, here are four questions I’ll be asking when I write content for my clients.
1. Does the story have universal appeal?
“That dress” came with a compelling story: A bride and her friends trying to decide the color of the mother of the bride’s dress.
Getting an answer evoked frustration, fear (of going crazy), and humor — all components of universal appeal.
According to novelist Kate Forsyth:
“Stories are the common ground that allow people to connect, despite all our defenses and all our differences … a story only survives if it articulates some kind of desire or dilemma, some kind of predicament, which is of importance to both the reteller of the tale, and to his or her audience.”
What compelling stories can you tell in your content marketing?
2. Does the story have an interactive element?
“Interactive” is a word that gets thrown around a lot in today’s marketing world. What people usually mean is merely content that people will actually read.
However, true interactivity means more than that: It means engaging with the content. What could be more interactive than having people vote (and fight over) the colors of “that dress”?
“By definition, interactives engage viewers in a very active way – and that engagement can be incredibly powerful to marketers. People viewing interactives spend more time on the page, seeing a brand associated with content that interests them, all at their own pace.”
What engaging elements can you add to your content?
3. Is the story easy to consume?
Among the top five ways to make content easy to consume, according to the Content Marketing Institute, is “eye candy.” The story about “that dress” was nearly 100 percent visual — plus a wickedly alluring headline (another of the top five).
“Humans are visual beings — it’s one of the traits that has kept our species going. Thus, it should come as no surprise that 90 percent of the information we take in is visual, and that we process images 60,000 times faster than text. Even more important for global audiences is that visual content often spans multiple languages, where text-based content may not.”
What arresting visuals can you add to your content?
4. Is the story emotionally evocative?
People got emotionally involved in the colors they saw in the dress. Evoking emotions is the Holy Grail of viral content.
Smart Insights reported on research that investigated why content goes viral:
“… emotional arousal was the single biggest factor in determining whether a campaign went viral. Articles that inspired, caused anger or awe-inspiring emotions, were all far more likely to end up on the ‘most emailed list’ on the site.”
So, the next time you need powerful content that will appeal universally, engage interactively, evoke emotionally, and be easy to consume, let the viral story of “that dress” be your inspiration.