Become A Storyteller

By on January 9, 2015

The reasons behind why certain content goes viral fascinates me. Something can happen in one part of the world, and moments later, someone on the other side of the map can know about it. Let’s take a look at an event last September in Australia that did just that. In case you missed the “iPhone 6 drop” story – here is a recap.

A young man named Jack Cooksey was waiting outside a Perth, Australia, Apple store to purchase an iPhone 6. He was the first in line. Upon making his purchase, all eyes—and cameras—focused in on him as he rushed to open the box. Suddenly, the new iPhone came loose, rattled out of the box and landed on the sidewalk! The crowd of iPhone fanatics gasped! But the frenzy was all for naught when Jack, relieved, picked the phone off the ground, examined it and proclaimed, “All good.” The drop during live TV happened during one of the biggest iPhone launches in Apple’s history.

The iPhone 6 story, recapped through articles, blogs and video, went CRAZY viral. A Google news search returns over 3.5 million results. The YouTube video has millions of views and thousands of viewers have commented. Thanks to Jack’s favorable outcomes, chalk it up to a pretty good PR day for Apple.

Why “The Drop” Matters

The iPhone incident could serve as a Harvard Business School case study on building an effective story arc for social media impact. The elements in this story will optimize any social media story. I use them when working clients on social media content strategy and they are tried and true. Here they are:

Relevant

In “Jack and the iPhone,” the idea of folks lining up to purchase the latest iPhone release set the stage for a “happy-tragic-all okay” story arc to which the audience connected. Using a different example, if it’s hiring time for new grads, leverage related stories around the stress of a first time job hunt, industries where competition is fierce or stories detailing employers’ most sought-after skills. Set the stage for your relevant, company-specific news and information by engaging your followers/readers around the larger topic.

Relatability

We’ve all been nervous handling expensive things, and what’s more, we’ve all dropped something that broke the piggy bank. We have empathy for Jack and are emotionally engaged in the story. When we watch the “Jack drops iPhone” video clip, we’re not concerned with anything else, but Jack, our main character. For example, if, on behalf of an organization, you’re posting about a specific conference event or a job fair, the status update should draw the reader in from the perspective of the attendee. Share stories that will engage the targeted candidate pool on a personal and emotional level.

Visuals

The “iPhone 6” story promised (and delivered) up close and personal access to events both unexpected and potentially tragic. We want to see the action, not just hear/read about it. If you don’t have video footage, you should have a photo. If you don’t have a photo, think seriously about the graphic companion element you will leverage to enhance the story.

Story Arc

Good stories should have a beginning, middle and an end. In Jack’s case we have: Triumph! (I’m the first with an iPhone!); Tragedy! (It landed on concrete!); followed with Relief! (My new iPhone survived!).

As we begin a new year, we want to tell stories through the lens of our employees. The story of a career event could feature a multitude of vantage points through a variety of posts across various platforms. We want to see the preparation, how many jobs we’re hoping to fill, who we hope attends the event; then: who we’re meeting, how many people participated in the event and finally: who we hired, where they fit in, and how the follower/reader could also fit in.

Schadenfreude

Yep, pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. We couldn’t resist clicking on the URL that promised the chance to see a live iPhone tragedy! We want “Reality TV” – the possibility of defeat. We want to know who won AND we want to know who lost. So try to think about helpful stories you can share that make you look real and authentic. To engage your target audience, don’t shy away from a little bad news now and then.

In 2015 – establish characters, fire up your imagination, create informative themes, build storylines, share aha moments and develop postisodes™ to emotionalize your call to action.

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