Advertising is all about telling stories. When they’re great stories, told well, we remember them. That is no easy task. It takes talent in the form of writing, art direction, and imagination. It calls for eloquence and salesmanship just to survive the approval process. And it demands a relentless dedication to prevent the best stories from unraveling along the way.
Social media is different. It’s less about telling stories than it is about getting others to tell them for us. That’s no easy task either. It takes talent in the form of inspiring participation. It calls for educating ourselves and our clients in new techniques. And it demands courage to give up some of the control we’re so used to retaining.
Next week I’m giving a presentation (webinar) for the 4As on Creativity in the Age of Social Media. So I’ve been thinking a lot about this. How do we inspire our community to tell stories for us? How do we get them to join us in co-creating them? What kinds of tools do we give them? What new technologies do we need to master?
There is no shortage of examples to inspire us, from HP’s You on You — a platform built by Reality Digital and embedded in YouTube — that invited consumers to create their own TV commercials, to the Live Strong Chalkbot, which let the cancer community voice their feelings for all the world to see. There are the many memes — from Elf Yourself to the green avatar – that jump-started viral movements. And there are perfectly orchestrated marketing campaigns – like Campfire’s and The Advance Guard’s launch of HBO’s True Blood – that inspired dozens of content creators to become characters in new stories as they unfolded in real time.
While these ideas may have benefited from the thinking and creativity of writers and art directors, it wasn’t writing and art direction that made them great. Instead it was something else: a familiarity with APIs; an acknowledgment that you need a developer in the room; and a willingness to let go.
It seems to me that creativity is changing. We may still want to tell some of the stories ourselves. But maybe not all of them. What do you think? Who should write the next chapter?