How brands are using new structures for storytelling

With the multiplication of platforms and formats, brands need to be able to adapt their content for multiple audiences.

It has only been a couple years since the advent of the Stories format that Snapchat made popular. These days, many brands are integrating this new format into their content marketing mix.

This is an example of how a brand adapts content and messaging for new formats and platforms.

What we are now seeing is brands using theses new vertical formats (for example) on more than social channels.

In a Forbes article by Paul Talbot, CEO and cofounder at Apester, Moti Cohen, explains how some marketers are leveraging these new storytelling structures with the goal to not only grab, but also keep attention from their audiences.

We know it, grabbing the attention of people is easy. Keeping their attention is much harder and this is where quality storytelling and high-value content come into play.

Anyone can create and publish content these days, but how many can really craft a story that keeps people glued to their screen.

At Toast we believe that we must all have the opportunity to be informed, educated and entertained in the best possible way. And this is why we work at developing and producing the best content to achieve this.

In the article, Cohen mentions brands that have embraced newer formats, on their own properties (not only social channels). Netflix with a story-like vertical format to promote its shows; Variety, Rolling Stone, and Marie Claire have developed native contextual Instagram-like stories within their content; and many more.

How is your brand leveraging these formats? How could they be integrated into your own properties, like your website or content hub?

At Toast we always keep our eyes open to new approaches, formats and structures, making sure we integrate them into our client’s and partner’s channels whenever it can create deeper engagement and better memory recall of the brand’s message.

Would you like to explore new ways for your brand to tell its story? Let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.

With 14,218 words, the New York Times newspaper provides us with a perfect example of content adaptation

The American newspaper adapted its 14,218-word article into many versions, in order to reach as many people as possible.

On October 2nd, the New York Times published a major investigation into the income of US President Donald Trump and how he became so wealthy, including resorting to certain tax evasion practices.

An article of 14,218 words. You read it right, almost 15,000 words! What’s even better is that any content marketer can learn valuable lessons from how they approached the distribution and amplification of this major investigation.

“This is one of the longest stories that we’ve ever run in the news pages of the Times, one of the longest investigative stories we’ve run period,” said Paul Fishleder, who coordinated the editorial staff and is the head of the Times’ political investigations department.

In itself, the publication of such a long article is relevant. The subject asks for it, as it is also a highly shared type of content.

But where it gets particularly interesting is in the way the newspaper chose to deploy this story.

First launched on a Tuesday afternoon, at a time when it would be most likely to be seen and received without being drowned in the media cycle, it was also published, on eight pages, in the Wednesday morning paper edition.

But since the entire population is not ready to take nearly 1 hour and 15 minutes to read the full report, the newspaper decided to release several versions of it at the same time.

Fishleder’s team therefore decided to publish, at the same time as the full version, a version of about 2500 words:

They also created an interactive version that includes video:

And finally, it seems that the email alert also had its own (very long) version:

In short, The New York Times has maximized the reach and potential reach of this content, in which it had invested heavily, by adapting it in multiple versions, to the reading context, but also to the persona of its readers.

This approach of maximizing content budgets through adaptation is something we highly recommend at Toast.

It is a key technique that is highly beneficial in optimizing content marketing budgets, because it allows you to go in depth into a subject, knowing that its potential will be taken into account during distribution and amplification, with different audiences and in different contexts.

So, which of your future content projects will benefit from this type of approach?

Complex content and chatbots: the BBC is experimenting

Sometimes, you wonder how deep you should go on a given topic. What if people could choose how deep they want to go?

On a recent Content Decoded masterclass, Benoit Giguère (who was key in the design and content architecture of LaPresse+) told us about the importance of entry points in content.

Entry points that cater to each user’s desire in the details he or she wants for a given topic. An initial entry point might just touch the surface on a topic, while another will do a deep-dive into context, history and the like. Both for the same topic matter or article.

The BBC has been testing this reality with the use of in-article chatbots.

Yup, you read that right, chatbots smack in the middle of the content.

The model allows users to ask questions on the topic they are reading (selected from a list of 3 suggested questions for example), having the chatbot respond by giving an answer and more details on the topic.

What this does is that it allows someone who is familiar with the context of the theme being treated to skim right through and get the latest information, but also allows someone who might want more historical details (for example) to get it without leaving the page.

I am a big fan of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard, which studies media (both traditional and newer digital media properties). I believe that as brand marketers and audience builders, we have a lot to learn from the media, who have been telling stories for so long.

This is the reason I believe you might be interested in one of their articles, that details how the BBC has been building a chatbot framework for their content, and make us, on the brand side, think about how we can leverage this knowledge to make better content for our own audiences.

You will also find multiple links to BBC content that has a chatbot embedded, in the Nieman article, a really interesting approach.