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Is Social Media Memorable?

March 23, 2014

The best ad agencies belong to a group of cultural storytellers that includes those who create great dramatic TV shows and movies.

We all know these folks create stories, but the importantly they understand endings, because endings are the things we viewers remember.

Danel Kahneman’s 2010 TED talk on Happiness explained his perspective on why happiness is such a hard thing to achieve; because there are really two types of happy;

1. How happy we are in the present moment

2. How happy we are with our lives to date

The two parts of the brain deal and process these in different ways. The “storage” part of the brain only deals with the things it believes are important and memorable- things are that have a high level of positive or negative emotional resonance, everything else gets left on the cutting room floor.

Think about Kahneman’s theory from the perspective of social media, it’s manly an endless stream of conversational stuff that’s designed to impact us in the moment.

This stream of stuff isn’t a carefully constructed narrative.

Following Kahneman’s logic, it’s safe to assume that very little social media content gets placed in our brain’s memory bank. It also explains why TV/video advertising is so powerful, because at it’s best it’s about great stories and to be great, those great stories need great endings.

Plenty has been said about the power and importance of stories from a brand and communication perspective, but it’s not just about stories for the sake of stories, those stories need to be memorable and to do that they need great endings.

The ending, as research companies will tell you, often makes all the difference as to the memorability of an ad.

What about the endings of other brand stories that want to be told- how does the founder’s story end? Is it always with the creation of the company?

How should a new product story end?

Going back to social media- perhaps we need to think in a more disciplined way about understanding the difference between getting people’s attention and impacting their memory- without a storyline- lots of visual social media content is unlikely to be memorable beyond the moment.

So perhaps we should ask ourselves some questions- if we want to turn social media from something that gets left on the cutting room floor of our brain’s memories, to something that makes it into the storage bank.

Maybe ad agencies that know how to tell great stories in 30/60 seconds and know how to develop great endings should really have an edge, they’re storytellers at heart and therefore they should be able to answer the following questions that could make social media more memorable.

What can we do to make social media memorable beyond a 1hour/24-hour period?

What does a good story mean in the context of social media?

Should we build out story arcs into our social media thinking?

What should a social media story ending be like and feel like in order to be memorable?

Social media is in its infancy, but it’s in danger of being all about the creation of lots of content, just for the sake of it. It’s clear that there’s more to it than that, it needs structure, discipline and craft. It needs storytelling skills and it needs story ending skills, the skills that the best ad agencies have in abundance.

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