I credit Mr. Stafford, my 7th grade History teacher, with opening my eyes to the power of the story. Ironically, he did so not by means of a bloviated lecture, rather with the simple use of a well-placed hyphen. On day 1 of class, before saying anything else, he declared, “this subject is simply about man and ‘His-Story’ ”, as he wrote the words in large bold print on the chalk board (yes, I’m that old. No white boards yet). He then paused, for effect, before moving on. It was like turning on a light within my developing juvenile mind. Dating back to the cave man, so much of what we know, learn, and remember was passed on to us in story form. Initially, in cave paintings (and no, I’m not that old), then stories by the elders around the camp fire, then eventually the written word. What Mr. S could not have known at that time was that, driven by this ever increasing growth of information, his simplistic style of explanation that day would become the dominate style of storytelling in the future.
Buckminister Fuller, futurist and inventor, introduced the Knowledge Doubling Curve. In his book, Critical Path, he laid out an ever decreasing window of time in which, due to increases in technology, our collective knowledge doubles. When his book was published in 1982 he estimated that human knowledge was doubling about every 18 months. IBM predicts that with continued internet growth, and additional advances in communication and data storage, turnaround will soon be just 12 hours (Schilling, 2013). Considering this, the development and growth of today’s social media options was inevitable.
Marketers today are helping us bridge the information gulf, and better find our way to their products or services, by engaging that same inherent desire of the cavemen to visually share a story with the collaborative assets provided by social media technology. Research shows that “the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the time it takes for the brain to decode text” and adding compelling visual elements and graphics to a message can contribute to up to 94% more views (Kusinitz, 2014).
Of the available visual storytelling mediums and strategies for use on the various social media platforms, video can provide some of the most powerful imagery. This example, from GoPro, is intended to help generate excitement about the upcoming release of their newest product, Karma. Short of a quick flyby, of what appears to be a small drone aircraft, there is no image of the actual product. We are left with what we can only assume is the output of the new product and our imaginations to envision additional possibilities. Although I am relatively confident that I cannot afford the forthcoming product, curiosity will lead me back to their page to check it out after the big reveal. Therein lies the power of the hook. This 25 second clip will get many of us “back into the store”, so to speak. Maybe we can’t swing the newest toy on the block, but perhaps a clearance sale on the page catches our eye while we are there. All because of a simple message that elicited an emotional response by its viewers. That is the ultimate goal of an effective visual story.
GoPro. (Sep 2016). GoPro: Karma Is Out There. [Video File]. Retrieved from
Jones, P., (2014, Nov 25). Has the Increase of Human Knowledge given us Wisdom? Let’s start the
dialogue. Path to Sustainable Benefits. Retrieved from http://sustainablebenefits.com/has-the-increase-of-human-knowledge-given-us-wisdom-lets-start-the-dialogue/.
Kusinitz, S., (2014, Jul 18). 12 Reasons to Integrate Visual Content Into Your Marketing Campaigns
(Infographic). HubSpot. Retrieved from http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-infographic#sm.0000pr6xphebae8lzx72ixen8n2xk.
Schilling, D. (2013, Apr 19). Knowledge Doubling Every 12 Months, Soon to be Every 12 Hours. Industry
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