Over the Selfie, Through the Visuals and Into the Storytelling – Day 2 at Seattle Interactive

At the Seattle Interactive Conference  this week, the “Makers” theme was on full display. This year’s speakers? They’re makers in every sense of the word. They make media, technologies, stories, designs, startups, sense of data and so much more. And at the conference, they made us think. How do we make sense of the digital revolution? How can we be authentic and effective makers in such a rapidly changing digital landscape?

The conference for us kicked off before the conference, as we caught up with Janelle Maiocco, CEO of local startup Farmstr, and we chatted with Jeremiah Owyang, founder and chief catalyst of Crowd Companies. During the conference, the following themes resonated in the sessions that we attended:

  • The many flavors of storytelling: Multi-platform, transmedia, visual, contextual, location-based, real-time, people-centered, character-driven.
  • Mobile: Think “snackable” content, seamless transitions across devices.
  • Empowerment: The collaborative economy empowers crowds and companies, while the Lake Washington Girls Middle School empowers their students.
  • Marketing to millennials: Emotions and authenticity are key in reaching this audience.

With that, here’s Day 2 of our coverage. We can’t wait for next year!

Me, Me, Me or We, We, We? Debunking the Millennial Myth

By Kavya Parthasarathy – @Kavya103

Marketers have many preconceived notions about the millennial woman.  Vicki Draper, Director of Consumer Analytics and Research at AOL and Carly Gray, Associate Media Director at Razorfish, led the Beyond the Selfie: Understanding Millennial Women panel discussion to help explore and debunk some of these myths.

There are 77 million millennials today, and they promise to be as influential in defining culture as the baby boomers were. Often, millennials are perceived as narcissistic and lazy; in other words, wanting a prize just for showing up. Research shows that much of that is untrue.

Millennial women have a great deal of passion for causes, and their numbers indicate that they have the power to effect change. They remain positive despite their struggles and are inspired by role models who work hard to have it all. And yes, they do like to have fun both at work and outside of it.

What does this mean for brands that are trying to engage with this audience? Invest in them. Inspire them. Value their input. Champion their causes. Don’t be afraid to express emotionality, and at all times, be authentic.

Carly Gray, Mandi Dilley, Cristina Masalunga, and Katie Dyer

Carly Gray, Mandi Dilley, Cristina Masalunga, and Katie Dyer at SIC 2014 (Image: Samantha Hautea)

A Visual is Worth a Thousand Words

By Shefali Sain – @shefalisain

Did you know that Pinterest drives more traffic to websites than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined? Or that 77% of people avoid a page of content with more than 563 words? Well, welcome to the new world of visual interaction. These are just a few examples shared by Amy Balliett, Killer Infographics Co-Founder & Chief Swiss Army Knife, at the The Impact of Visual Communication: How to Produce Content That Engages Your Audience & Makes a Difference session.

Amy Balliett

Amy Balliett, Co-Founder and Swiss Army Knife of Killer Infographics, at SIC 2014 (Image: Samantha Hautea)

Thanks to millions of years of evolution, humans are genetically wired to respond differently to visuals than text. As pointed out by Balliett, visuals are everywhere today, from electronic media such as web pages and television screens to environmental contexts such as road signs and retail displays. The combined use of visual and verbal communication is said to be six times more effective than the use of text-based communication alone.

“There is a ‘con,’ if there is too much text,” warns Balliett. She stresses that text should always add punch as an afterthought. According to Balliett, these three factors decide the success of visual storytelling:

  1. Knowing your goal: Your choices include static, motion or interactive.
  2. Knowing your audience: Don’t dumb down content. Instead, use smart visuals to truncate lengthy information into comprehensible content.
  3. Think of the context behind the text: It’s imperative to “show,” not “tell.” Add text as an afterthought.

To illustrate these points, think about how many words you need to convey the gist of this 90-second video?

Let’s Raise the Bar for Storytelling

By Connie Rock – @conrock_media

What’s Your Story? was a comedy hour, group therapy session and master class all rolled into one amazing hour, thanks to master raconteur Warren Etheredge. “If you want to get anywhere, you have to start telling stories. And you have to start telling them from a people-centric point of view,” he advises. The bottom line? Storytellers need to identify interesting conflicts and dig deep so that they truly understand what makes their characters tick.

An example of a not-so-interesting conflict? Good versus evil.  It’s too simple, says Etheredge. A more interesting conflict involves a personal, internal choice between two outcomes that a character really wants. Etheredge elaborates, quoting a Los Angeles Times critic who aptly summed up this point in a book review: “The most rending kind of war is not between two hatreds, but between two hopes.”

Etheredge left participants with a gem of a tool, a simple but powerful set of considerations to help storytellers get into the minds and hearts of their characters as their characters experience a difficult conflict: Maintain the status quo in their lives (whatever that may represent) or make a change:

Maintain the Status Quo Make a Change
Rationalization for maintaining the status quo Rationalization for making a change
Benefits of maintaining the status quo Imagined benefits of making a change
Drawbacks of maintaining the status quo Greatest fear that comes with making a change

“When you’re giving advice or telling a story, what are you trying to do? You’re trying to effect change,” Etheredge notes. As host of The High Bar, founder of The Warren Report and one of the founding faculty of TheFilmSchool and The Red Badge Project, he is well-versed in changing lives through storytelling. And in this session, he raised the bar once again.

Warren Etheredge

Warren Etheredge, Host of the High Bar, at SIC 2014 (Image: Samantha Hautea)

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