Tag: communication

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Controlling the story content quality

As professional writers do when editing their works, content creators should also follow a protocol to ensure a minimum quality standard of the branded content. This protocol consists of a check list to ensure that the content complies with certain requirements. Some of the check points to evaluate the narrative should be the following:

Is it compelling?

  • Is it original or surprising?
  • Is it related to the interests of the target audience?
  • Are the title and headers compelling, interesting and clear to motivate reading?
  • Are the images, infographics or videos clear, compelling and located in the right place?
  • Are there bold ideas and facts to catch the reader’s attention?
  • Does it convey emotions or have some practical value?
  • Does the introduction motivate you to keep on reading?

Is it adjusted to the content strategy?

  • Does the content tell a story?
  • Is the content aligned with the destination’s mission and values?
  • Is the format adequate for the channels and devices it is to be delivered on?
  • Does the content tone go in accordance with the destination contents’?
  • Does it contain any controversial information or opinions that may offend or be harmful to any of the destination stakeholders?
  • Are the tone and words used adequate for the audience and purpose of the content?

Is it readable and written correctly?

  • Are there any grammatical flaws?
  • Are there any spelling mistakes?
  • Is the narrative smooth and easy to read?
  • Is the flow of the story coherent and logical?
  • Do the chapter titles and headers help in following the story? Do they create any confusion?

These and some more points are to help the writers revise their drafts before continuing on writing the story, or at the end, before sending the narrative to be edited.

What other points would you consider to control the content quality?

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Setting the story style

As for all the marketing materials, brand storytelling has to follow certain guidelines that are usually detailed in the corporate content marketing style guide.

In the case of destinations, where many amateur writers are to participate, this style guide plays an especially important role. First, it has to be explained in the storytelling training workshops for the new storytellers, but it has to be easily available to all of them on the corporate site. The style guide is like a basic road map that orientates writers on how to create high-quality content. There are some key recommendations to take into consideration when crafting the destination’s content marketing style guide:

Clearly define your goals and audience targets. Think about writers with different skill levels, providing not only guidelines for advanced writers but also for average and inexperienced ones.  Focus on the most common flaws and main style guidelines.

Create a logical framework that makes it user friendly. Facilitate the understanding about how to use the guide to make it easy for the new writers who are not familiar with that kind of document. Using simple language and visual aids is likely to help them out.

Use reputable sources of guidance. So long as the Style Guide cannot include guidelines for all the possible mistakes, it is convenient to use a few selected sources of style guidance that users can access in case of doubt.

Promote its usage. Apart from the digital version uploaded in the corporate website, it would be convenient to all contributors to have a paper copy of the Guide in the storytelling training workshop. Then it is the moment to explain the importance of using it.

Update it regularly. The content marketing style is likely to evolve in the same way as all the marketing strategies evolve. The Guide is therefore to be updated incorporating the new social language and other communication trends.

Some of the key components of a Content Marketing Style Guide would be:

  • List of stylistic guidelines on what to do and what not to do
  • Punctuation guidelines on when to use colons and semicolons
  • Corporate guidelines regarding some words and phrases that are part of its culture
  • Guidelines on confusing words to let the writers know the differences
  • Writer’s checklist to evaluate drafts and correct mistakes

How would you foster the adoption of the Style Guide by the non-professional contributors?

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Strategies to foster story virality

Based on the factors that have proved to foster virality, there are three main strategy recommendations:

Design your content to provoke an emotional reaction. Arousing a sense of amusement, surprise, anger, solidarity or affection is likely to foster sharing among the audience. However, to make it effective, you should consider the following points:

  • Support the story with visual content, either photos or videos. Good visual content communicates much faster and is more engaging than written.
  • Make it entertaining by presenting your story in a humorous or original way. Make it stand out with an original plot or a more engaging tone or language.
  • Make the content personal by showing the faces of the people working in the organization. This helps by creating emotional connection and humanizing the stories.

Create content that provides real value. As aforementioned, stories may address some of the audience’s needs, challenges or aspirations, providing know how and inspiration for their personal lives. You may create and enhance the value provided by:

  • Inspirational stories work like case studies showing how others overcame a specific challenge or difficult situation, that are at least partially applicable to other people’s cases.
  • Stories related to other destinations with similar mission purpose provide a sense of authenticity to the audience and may eventually lead to cross-marketing alliances.
  • Invite thought leaders in the issues related to the audience concerns to write stories or participate in a story creation with the added value of reputable advice and know-how.

Embed features that facilitate virality. Incorporating interactive features in the content is likely to foster more engagement, and engagement is the first step towards virality. There are many possible ways to do so:

  • Incorporate social sharing tools throughout the site so that readers need only to click once to share it with their connections.
  • Encourage people to make comments so as to spur discussion among the story. Ask questions at the end of the content to provoke people into giving their opinions.
  • Create contents calling for participation and interactivity, like contests, sweepstakes, polls, etc. They are great engagement drivers and are also likely to go viral.

Finally, there are some common mistakes you should avoid if you want to boost engagement and virality: being offensive, asking for likes, talking about yourself and being too obscure.

Do you envision other strategies to make stories go viral?

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

What makes stories go viral?

One of the most desired effects of content creation and delivery is to make it go viral. Despite the fact there is not any magical formula to do so, there are many strategies and tactics that increase the chances of stories going viral. The main key factors fostering virality are:

Promise of practical value inspires people to share knowledge that may be useful to others. Either it is a matter of generosity or a matter of a desire to be perceived as smart and helpful, inherent practical value works as a social currency that fosters relationships among people. For some people, it makes them feel like insiders having privileged information.

Specific topics related to the dreams, aspirations and challenges of specific audience segments, inspiring them and spurring discussion among their community. These may encompass warnings, inspirational stories, advice, special deals and opportunities.

Inspiring strong emotions of laughter, amusement, anger, surprise, inspiring solidarity or uniting people for a common cause are powerful drivers of virality. The stronger the emotion is, the more likely the content is to go viral.

According to a survey carried out by The New York Times, the top motivators for sharing were:

  • 75% said that sharing helped them better understand news they were interested in
  • 85% said that the comments they got from sharing provided them with more thought
  • 94% considered how helpful a link would be to another user
  • 68% shared as an advertisement for themselves, to give others a sense of who they are
  • 73% said it helped them find people with common interests

Do you think of other factors that make stories go viral?

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Content media strategy in transmedia storytelling

The media mix for storytelling marketing is likely to be different for every campaign. There are three main categories of media channels to consider: paid channels (advertisements and sponsorships), own channels (website and own social media pages) and followers’ channels (content created by followers, journalists, bloggers).

 Among them, the most effective ones are the followers’ channels, whereas the paid and owned play a supportive role to reach some specific segments and also at the beginning of the campaigns. The followers’ channels are not only those that hold the most trust, but also the ones that have the most reach, and their reach is likely to keep on increasing.

  • Paid channels are particularly interesting for reaching new audience segments that neither search for information related to the destination nor even know the destination. It is recommendable to combine print, digital and broadcast channels according to the reach and impact of every channel in relation to the target audience. It is convenient to include a call to action driving them to visit own or followers’ channels for further information.
  • Own channels are usually visited by people driven from paid channels, and are the first opportunity to learn about them and start engaging them. These channels are useful for educating the audience about the destination and build a community of followers to start delivering the brand stories. Take advantage of the opportunity to provide a good first impression and build emotional connection and trust from the very beginning.
  • Followers’ channels become important so long as the destination becomes popular in the market and inspires stories and discussions. Influencing these channels contents and discussions is the biggest challenge of marketers 3.0: they have to listen and understand the followers’ passions and concerns to connect with them and ultimately influence them.

Content & media strategies are developed in the Whitepaper “The Marketing Plan 3.0”.

Would you add other considerations to the content media strategy?

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

New rules for story marketing in the digital era: transmedia storytelling

Beyond the generic story marketing principles, the digital era brings in new opportunities to deliver stories and interact with the audience in many ways, but the competition for the audience is tougher than ever before. Consumers nowadays view contents through many different channels and devices. The rise of the social media platforms has turned the marketing systems upside down, and so the strategies have to adapt.

Transmedia storytelling is the technique to deliver a story experience through many different platforms and formats, using digital technologies and adapting to various devices. Every platform and device has unique characteristics that make it necessary to develop unique contents adapted to these characteristics. The challenge of transmedia storytelling is to create all these different contents but to make them complementary in order to deliver a consistent storytelling experience.

Furthermore, thanks to the new technologies and social media platforms storytelling turns into a multi-directional conversation where everybody is entitled to participate, and therefore marketers have to shift their role into conversation enablers and facilitators. Marketers still have a say in these conversations, but no longer control the brand reputation.

They have turned from Brand Managers into storytellers, or more precisely, story conveyors. Now the branded content is no longer fully created by the marketing departments, it is developed through co-creation with consumers and other stakeholders.

With transmedia storytelling many marketing strategies need to be reviewed:

Content format strategy. The brand story has to adapt to various platforms and devices, and so needs to be produced in many formats such as video, podcast, e-book, micro-blogging, etc. delivering unique content experiences in every platform, but properly coordinated to deliver a consistent story experience for the followers using two or more different channels.

Content creation strategy. As aforementioned, stories in marketing 3.0 are primarily created by consumers and other stakeholders rather than by marketers. Marketing departments enable and facilitate the content co-creation among stakeholders. Stories have to come from consumers to be more authentic, meaningful and credible.

Content delivery strategy. In the new marketing paradigm stories are mostly delivered by the consumers themselves, who share the content they like and trust with their friends and relatives. Consumers mostly pay attention to the content received from their trusted acquaintances, and so the brand followers become the main story deliverers.

Content purpose strategy. Every piece of content should have just one purpose and so only one call to action. When creating the content piece marketers should clearly know what type of action they want the audience members to take, and communicate it clearly. Intending to drive multiple actions is likely to create confusion and end up with a passive reaction.

Content SEO strategy. Even if the strength of the content strategy is the desire of the followers to share their favorite stories, it is also convenient to take into account the SEO strategy. As long as we want to attract audience targets searching for specific topics, we have to consider the keywords they use in their searches to include them in our content.

Would you consider other strategy adaptations –apart from content media strategy-?

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Principles of story marketing for destinations

There is a series of principles that a marketer should never overlook when crafting the storytelling strategy for a destination:

Know your audience. You need to know the kind of characters they admire and why they like them, what are their aspirations, their values, their beliefs, their fears, and what they cherish. When you manage to understand what moves your audience you are setting the stage to become a thought leader for them, and sound understanding of the target audience is the basis for a successful marketing plan and adequately framing the story for them. Do not intend to be liked by the whole audience, but just by a large segment of people who ultimately expand the buzz to reach the mainstream, the turning point of success.

Know how to reach your audience. Beyond their needs and motivations in order to tailor the story for them, it is crucial to know their content consuming habits in order to know through what kinds of means and when it is best to deliver the stories to get their full attention. This entails knowing their social habits like the locations where they spend their free time, their purchasing habits, the kinds of media they engage with as well as the device they use to connect with them, their trusted sources of information, etc.

Craft an effective call to action. At the end of the story, the call to action has to be explicit enough to let the audience know what to do next, once they are emotionally engaged. The best way to do so is by making the main character become the messenger of this call to action, more directly or indirectly, without spoiling the spirit of the story. The call to action has to explain the expected outcomes from the action they are about to take, so to support the emotional conviction with some rational facts and drive them to take the next step without further hesitation.

Surround the story with brand experiences. Even if the story is the conveyor of the message, the audience is willing to establish a relationship with the brand through various experiences so they can choose how they interact with the brand and enjoy the story through many senses. This may be done through multiple means like providing branded items that they are likely to use in their daily lives or through multimedia devices. Providing the audience with various brand experiences builds a priceless opportunity to strengthen the emotional links with the brand and that pays off at least with increased recommendation and loyalty.

Use engaging images and headlines. Nowadays consumers are usually overwhelmed by the amounts of information they receive through multiple channels in such a way that is sometimes difficult for them to decide to which content they should pay their utmost attention. Like in most industries, in the tourism industry most consumer decisions are driven by emotions rather than logic, and therefore are usually taken based on first impressions that convey visual and emotional appeal. Images and headlines are the key elements to stand out among the content crowd.

Create admirable but realistic characters. The characters are the key elements that create the emotional connection with the audience. Characters should embed the destination 3.0 values of cooperation, solidarity, good leadership, effort, innovative mindset, fairness, honesty, etc. Storytellers reveal the integrity of the characters by showing them in conflicts, because the heart of humans is revealed in the choices they make under pressure; and when the character takes admirable decisions he becomes admired. Moreover, characters have to be realistic by showing their vulnerability, as this is also a powerful empathy generator.

Convey energy and passion. When telling a story, emotions are transferred not only through the character’s personality but also through the enthusiasm and contagious passion that the storyteller uses to tell the story. To do so, the teller has to put himself in the character’s shoes, as this is the way to transmit authenticity and provide a sense of integrity to the story. Authenticity and passion are key drivers of successful storytelling.

Listen to your audience. Beyond the initial research to craft the adequate story and plan its delivery, marketers need to know what the audience thinks about the story, the way it is delivered and the related brand experiences. Not even the best marketers do it perfectly at the first attempt, so there is always a need to monitor the reactions and behaviors of the target audience in relation to all the marketing messages and activities, to reorient the strategy and the tactics whenever necessary. Further, the audience may change their mind in some aspects that affect the marketing strategy in some way; therefore it is necessary to detect trends at the earliest.

Would you consider adding any other key principles?

Business model innovationCo-creationInnovationMarketing 3.0Open innovation

Story innovation concepts: story platform

A key idea to understanding the aforementioned prototypes is that of the story platform. In this concept there is one principal author who drafts the main guidelines of the story, like the location, the value proposition, a basic plot, and some of the main characters. This could also be called the story backbone or the story constraints.

 Taking this platform story as a starting point, the free contributors –working individually or in groups- may create their version of the story by filling all the gaps that the backbone leaves to develop the contributors’ imagination, adding new characters and sub-stories that shape its uniqueness. As a result, there end up being many different stories with a common purpose related to the mission for which tourism is being developed in the destination. This is the case of prototype 2.

In the case of prototypes 3 and 4, there would also be a platform story with constraints and pre-determined ingredients. But the difference is that they are game driven experiences applicable to many kinds of missions that are created to draw flows of contributors, volunteers or tourists in taking real action in benefit of the mission purpose.

 Further, in these cases the roles of the participants are all pre-determined and every individual decides what type of role he or she wants to play in the story, with freedom to develop the role with his or her skills, ideas and knowledge.

Do you envision other types of story platform to develop story based experiences?

Business model innovationCo-creationCollaborative business modelsInnovationMarketing 3.0

Destination story based experience prototypes

Needless to say that many more possibilities for each variable may be envisioned, but these are just some examples to help the reader understand the innovation method. Based on these ideas, we have drafted four story driven prototype experiences to illustrate the type of result that the innovation method may produce.

  1. Personal awareness & Spiritual development journey, in line with pilgrimages and similar experiences. This is usually a journey that is carried out alone as of a process of self-reflection and discovery. The role of the protagonist is that of a tourist, so long as he or she is the only beneficiary of the experience, and may encompass both walking routes and static setting stays. In this case, the tourist is to write the story at the end of the experience, ideally with the support of a training workshop, but the protagonist should work on drafting the story from the beginning of the experience. The goals of writing the story are completing the self-awareness and discovery experience, and to inspire others in living their own transformational experience.
  1. Story driven development of a theme route, as in the cases where some novels or films have inspired the development of tourism routes for the fans of the story. This would consist of a story contest launched by the destination management organization (DMO) based on some constraints or even a story backbone. In any case, the story has to be developed based on the destination as the story platform. The contest should be open to both individual creations and group co-creations. At this point, many formulas could be envisioned to encourage the contribution of as many people as possible. The value proposition of the story driven experience should be in line with the tourism 3.0 principles, which means that it should have at least an educational or cultural transformation goal, without disregarding the fun or entertaining value.
  1. Crowd gaming ongoing experience consists of an ongoing story driven experience that takes place in a certain setting without a time limit. This experience takes the form of a mission driven game or challenge, and so the mission accomplishment is what keeps on driving the development of the story game. There is no foreseen end, as long as the mission is not fully accomplished. Such story would work like an MMO game where everybody is entitled to participate both in the virtual and the real world platform in the destination. The location could be any type of destination and the protagonists could either play the role of tourists, volunteers or contributors, depending on the type of challenge: educational fun for tourists, environmental protection challenge for volunteers, and creativity & cooperation challenge for contributors. In this story driven experience, the story plays the role of drawing tourists, volunteers or contributors to the story making and to visit the destination to participate in the real world experience.
  1. Crowd gaming event consists of a crowd sourced game driven story that is played like an MMO game with some real world experience along the story, but especially at the end of it. The events could take place in almost any type of location, including cities, nature settings, cultural destinations or theme parks –for instance- depending on the ultimate purpose and nature of the real-world experience. Such purpose could be for an environment protection challenge, creativity & cooperation challenge, or an educational fun experience. As in the case of the Crowd gaming ongoing event, the role of the protagonist is related to the purpose of the experience, and so could be a volunteer, contributor or tourist. In this type of story-driven experience, the story also plays the role of drawing attention, participation and contribution of individuals in the co-creation of the story, the contribution related to the purpose and in visiting the destination when the event takes place.

Out of the innovation parameters explained in the previous post, do you envision other story based experiences?

Business model innovationCo-creationInnovationMarketing 3.0Open innovation

Story innovation framework and guidelines

Based on the trends mentioned in previous posts, we have envisioned some innovation guidelines to integrate storytelling with real world tourism experiences. To do so, we have identified seven variables that define each of these story-driven tourism experiences. By playing with different combinations of values for each variable, we can develop an innovation method.

Type of experience refers to the variables that shape the way the experience is delivered, such as individual or group activity, ongoing availability or scheduled availability (the case of events), location based or route based, game based or journey based, etc. In this regard, there have been envisioned four main types of experiences:

  • Walking route, to be experienced by oneself or in group
  • Stay in a location, to be experienced by oneself or in group
  • Crowd gaming event
  • Crowd gaming ongoing experience (24/7)

Type of story authorship refers to how many people have contributed to the creation of the story. In this regard, there have been envisioned three main types of authorship:

  • Individual
  • Group co-creation, referring to a limited group of people
  • Crowd co-creation, referring to a story where everybody is entitled to bring in their ideas

Type of location refers to the kind of setting where the experience is to be delivered. In this regard, there have been envisioned five main types of settings:

  • Theme park or resort
  • City
  • Nature setting
  • Cultural or Theme route
  • Cultural destination (other than a city)

Type of value proposition refers to the core of the experience, its aim and its value. In this regard, there have been envisioned four main types of value proposition:

  • Environment protection challenge or rally
  • Educational fun
  • Creativity and cooperation challenge or rally
  • Personal development and awareness journey

Role of the protagonist refers to the type of role developed by the person who is to live the experience. In this regard, there have been envisioned four main types of roles:

  • Tourist
  • Volunteer
  • Contributor
  • Brand ambassador

Type of story creation refers to the creation process of the story, in line with the aforementioned trends. In this regard, there have been envisioned four main types of story creation process:

  • Contest and crowd or group co-creation based on backbone story, with location and value proposition constraints
  • The author writes the story at the end of the experience, with the support of a storytelling training workshop, though he or she drafts the story for as long as the experience takes place.
  • The story-game is co-created in digital platform –like an MMO game- and the real-world experience takes place when the virtual story-game is already advanced or right at the end.
  • Ongoing open co-creation by the crowd contribution –under established rules- both online and on the real site, like a never ending MMO game that takes place simultaneously in the real and virtual space.

Role of the story refers to the relationship between the story and the experience, in terms of cause-effect and temporary sequence. In this regard, there have been envisioned four main types of story role:

  • Inspire the development of a new tourism experience or product, like a themed route
  • Draw a crowd to drive an MMO game based challenge that ends with a real world event
  • Tell the personal journey experienced in relation to an existing tourism product
  • Draw audience to follow a story driven game or challenge, learn from it, and inspire them to live their related on-site experience and contribute to the story building

Would you consider any other story innovation parameter to this method framework?