The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

Four years ago, I wrote Read This First to help executives understand the role of social media in their businesses. And while much has changed over the past few years, more has stayed the same.  Marketing success in the age of social networks requires a different approach to content creation.

I’ve spent the past few years trying to distill “different approach” into a compact, yet powerful statement–an elevator speech if you will. I found it last month in one of the most unlikely places.

Pigskin Storytelling

The father and son team of Ed and Steve Sabol founded NFL Films in the early 1960s. Their work changed not only the way football games were recorded, but probably influenced the way all sporting events were memorialized. An NFL Film tells the story of the gridiron, where infinite forces clash with immovable objects, resulting in serious consequences for the game’s battle-hardened warriors. Rather than mounting a single camera at the 50-yard line to view the game as a spectator, they used cinematography techniques including multiple cameras and camera-angles to cover a game. But the magic of an NFL Film story occurred in post production, when they added the velvety baritone voice of John Facenda reading perfectly-written voice-over narratives. 

We lost Steve Sabol in September of last year. But it was while I was watching one of his works that I found my elusive elevator pitch. Steve said:

Tell me a fact and I’ll learn.
Tell me the truth and I’ll believe.
But, tell me a story, and it’ll live in my heart forever.

The statement hit me with the force of blitzing linebacker, because most companies are great at telling facts and truths, yet fall short at telling stories. Therefore, the role of a content marketer is to transform company facts and truths into in stories.

Rule #5 from Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman’s seminal book, Content Rules says: “Reimagine; don’t recycle.”

Therefore, applying some Sabolization to their rule, we get:

“Content marketers need to reimagine a company’s facts and truths into stories as opposed to recycling them into more facts and truths.”

Give it a try. The next time someone asks what your role is, just give them a little Steve Sabol.


Jan 2, 2013

I’ve come to accept the fact that professional communicators have short-term memories. In the past, I’d raise an eyebrow when some marketing or public relations person would scoff at a corporate video being viewed 350 times on YouTube. “Only?” I’d ask. Ah, how quickly we forget.

Less than eight years ago (when YouTube was founded in 2005), if a company wanted to distribute 350 videos, it had to record them (in standard definition), copy them onto magnetic tapes, package them, and then pay postage for each package sent. If each video cost $1.00 to copy and $1.00 to distribute, those 350 videos would cost $700 to deliver. At a variable cost of $2.00 per tape, every incremental video would cost the company additional money. Today, these same companies can record in high definition videos, upload them to YouTube, and then sit back and watch the service deliver them at no incremental cost per view.

This past fall, YouTube added an interesting new measurement to its Insights dashboard that helps put this “Zero Variable Cost” into perspective. The metric, called “Estimated Minutes Viewed,” demonstrates how many minutes people have spent watching video content. With only 24 hours in a day, this measurement reveals how much time your prospects and clients are loaning to you.

Consider the costs associated with a Superbowl commercial. According to Neilsen, last year’s rate sheet required advertisers to pay $100,000 per thirty-second spot to be seen by up to 111 million people. Assuming that all 111 million of these viewers decided to watch the ad rather than leaving the room to get more guacamole, viewer would have loaned 55 million minutes (916,000 hours) of their attention to the advertiser.

Yet, after 30 seconds, the experience would be over–finished as the audience’s attention was drawn elsewhere–either to another ad, back to the game, or more likely, back to the refrigerator for more guacamole.

Now consider an online video service like YouTube, where the video sits waiting to be viewed. Unlike the restrictions of a live sporting event like the SuperBowl, access to the content isn’t limited by time zone or time of day.

In the example above, we can see that between October 7th and the 13th, this company’s online video catalog was viewed 35,281 times. Until YouTube added timing information, this was all the information that content marketers had access to. However, we now have an alternative way to view the data by translating those 35,281 views into time invested by our viewers: 292,046 minutes (~4,800 hours) or 202 days 19 hours…for only one week!

But this number holds even greater meaning if one considers:

  • The week before, prospects and customers invested 3,800 of their hours to viewing the content
  • The week before that they loaned 3,550 hours
  • and the week before that, 35,000 views translated into 4,300 hours of loaned attention.

It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that:

  • digitized video stored in the cloud is a gift that keeps on giving.
  • corporate videos on video sharing sites continue to rack up more and more views as time goes on.
  • For every additional view, the total cost per view gets smaller.
  • The longer a video resides on a site, the more impressions it gets, and therefore the CPM goes down over time.

How much would you have to pay traditional media to average 4,000 hours of content viewed per week?

Filed under: Social Media

Oct 10, 2012

In May 2008, I founded OC New Media, LLC with the goal of teaching executives about social media. During the past 53 months, I’ve had the good fortune of working with amazing customers, whose expertise ranged from: manufacturing spirits to frozen yogurt, practicing public relations to practicing law, and writing software to writing history. It’s been a wild ride.

A lot has changed since then. Although today the term, social media, is much more familiar, it still draws quizzical looks as organizations wonder how to integrate it within their particular businesses. Back then, few companies would consider investing in it. Today, more are hiring those who specialize in this non-traditional combination of technology, content and media.

Over the past few months, I’ve been delighted to see more companies creating managerial positions dedicated to addressing the challenges of social media. One of them caught my eye.

It is therefore with great excitement that I announce that I have accepted a new position as the manager of social media for Epson America. I am very excited to be working with such a well-known and highly respected brand.

Accepting a full-time position means that I will be shutting down OC New Media’s consulting business. But don’t worry, I still plan on sharing my insights through this blog. As a matter of fact, I’m working on a case study about a local company who used social media to not only increase its brand awareness, but it also created the single highest sales day in the company’s six year history.

I’d like to thank all of my customers who’ve allowed me to be a part of their social communications plans. Confidentiality agreements don’t allow me to identify them by name, but you know who you are. Without you, I wouldn’t have had a company. Nor would I have been able to eat:-)

Finally, I’d like to thank the readers of this blog. Since 2007, we’ve documented a revolution. And although the revolution is far from over, we are much closer to the end than when we started. I look forward to continuing our relationship, with me “Ronning Amok” and you commenting on my ramblings.

I wonder what we’ll be talking about 53 months from now, in March 2017?

Filed under: Social Media