Scott Stratten doesn’t like the term ‘social media’ and he makes a good point. The word ‘media’ evokes an old paradigm, a pushy marketing mindset that’s going the way of the Dodo. Traditional media is characterized by a privileged voice broadcasting a unified message to the masses, but now the emerging digital revolution is changing the game and giving everyone a voice. The key to getting heard above the roar is to authentically engage one-on-one, develop relationships and offer compelling content that pulls people into your (story) world.
Stratten, the dynamic speaker and author of the best-selling book ‘UnMarketing’ was one of the awesome Keynote Speakers at Victoria’s first Social Media Camp (#SMCV10) on October 3rd, 2010. About 500 people gathered for a full day of speakers, roundtables and networking opps, exchanging digital tools, tips and techniques — plus a whole lot of joie de vivre! The buzzwords were ‘content’, ‘engagement’ and ‘relationship’. That sounds a lot like filmmaking to me. Or maybe we could call it ‘storytelling technology’. Let me explain…
Social UnMedia is All About Relationships
According to Stratten, the outdated concept of marketing as a job or distinct task no longer applies. “STOP that!” he scolds, jumping up and down like an adorable nerd. UnMarketing is the new normal; everything you say, do, don’t do, watch or ‘like’ online contributes to the persona, character or brand you are offering up to the digital ecosystem. Good relationships have always been a key to good business; except now they’re the lock, the key, the door and the entire treasure box itself.
Social UnMedia, (to borrow Scott’s UnSemantics!) is making it possible for everyone to be a broadcaster, and even better, you can now connect with each person individually, so you don’t have to shout.
‘Now Hear This!’ becomes ‘Once Upon a Time…’
Social media amplifies everything, so it’s not a quick fix for anything. “If you suck at business offline, then you’re just gonna suck harder online!”, warns Stratton. “People only spread awesome frickin’ content!” What makes awesome content? Great storytelling.
I’m ready for my Close-Up, Mr. DeMille!
The invention of social media tools to the evolution of the Internet is equivalent to the discovery of the close-up to the history of filmmaking. The movies came of age in the early 20th century, graduating into a true storytelling medium when D.W. Griffith, the father of narrative cinema, decided to move the camera from it’s proscenium arch wide-shot to a close-up of the actors for dramatic effect. At first the Hollywood producers were horrified, worried that audiences would demand their money back having paid to see the whole actor! But as we all know, the close-up led to the art of editing and the evolution of the language of film: a set of ever-evolving conventions that offer precise creative control over the story’s dramatic narrative, fact or fiction.
Overacting was the norm in turn-of-the-century silent-era films. Grand exaggerated gestures were necessary for actions to be noticed in the fuzzy wide shot. But acting styles were forced to change with the advent of the close-up, which accentuated subtle nuance, unspoken backstory, laser intimacy and vulnerable authenticity. The tiniest facial twitch can suggest a rich personal story, such as Marlon Brando’s performance in The Godfather or Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs.
So what does this have to do with social media? Like it or not, social media is the contemporary digital hearth around which our stories are being told. “It’s a social forge, a fiery pressure cooker that transforms (or destroys) everything that is fed into it.” So says Julien Smith, #SMCV10’s other awesome Keynote speaker and co-author of the best-seller Trust Agents with Chris Brogan. Smith nailed it: “We are being called to expand our role and tell a bigger story.”
The Internet Moves in for its Close-Up
Social media is telling this bigger story in digital close-up. Echoing the cinematic revolution, almost exactly a century later social media etiquette favours authentic human gestures over bold, brassy proclamations . Conversation and engagement is what it takes to be a star in the social media universe, everything else is likely to find itself on the cutting room floor.
Storytelling Technology for Reinvention
I’m continually amazed with the ways in which good social media strategy mirrors the filmmaking process. As a filmmaker, I live in the realm of story and I’m very excited about the opportunity for transformation and reinvention that this new storytelling technology offers. What’s the bigger story that is calling you?