The old adage goes, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”. This has never been more true than in the days of social media. So how do you create effective content? How to you capture attention, engage hearts and minds and drive conversation. I’ve been getting this question a lot (and it was certainly a theme at SXSW). So I thought I’d answer it using examples.
In my mind no one does it better than Freeform, a purpose-driven media company in Los Angeles. I saw their work when I watched the film shot by Jesse Dylan for TED Prize winner, Karen Armstrong. What struck me was its tone. Jesse Dylan seemed to be uniquely able to communicate ideas in a way that moved people to take action. So here’s my list of what I think Freeform does that makes their work so effective.
1: FOCUS: All their films discuss topics through the lens of the recipient. Rather than simply talk about themselves, the brands involved inspire engagement and contribution from their listeners.
2: CONVERSATION: Their films are always conversational in nature without the attitude or airs of a self-important brand.
3: POSITIVITY: No matter how grave or pressing the subject, the films frame the conversation in terms of a positive and possible solution.
4. ELEVATION: Each film elevates the topic, speaker and listener enlisting them in a calling higher than themselves.
5. ECONOMY: Each film is realistic about consumer attention and intentions. People do want to do good but you must capture their attention and motivate them quickly if you want to be effective.
6. SELFLESSNESS: Neither the interviewer nor interviewee ever overwhelms the subject. It’s always the message that matters most.
7. AUTHENTICITY: The viewer is left in no doubt as to the commitment of everyone involved. That passion is contagious.
8. REALITY: The films lead with the issue rather than relying on special effects. The presumption is that the solution and intelligent discussion around it are compelling enough.
9. SINGULARITY: Each film is a distillation of a complex problem into a simple idea expressed in emotional terms.
10. BALANCE: The films strike a critical but difficult balance between engaging the mind and moving the heart.
These qualities have always been essential parts of powerful storytelling but now that consumers are distributors, the ability to inspire and drive conversation is more critical than ever.
What are your thoughts? What else do you think is critical to creating content that changes public opinion, behavior or buying habits?
Reading Time: 1 minutesSimon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.