Why entertainment based user engagement works

11 July 2013

Before we had the internet – and before we had books, we told stories. We mixed narrative with morals and used it to get things done.  To change behaviour. 

We talked of witches and monsters so our kids wouldn’t stray too far into the woods.  It worked too – so they told their kids the same stories.  Even the most frivolous children’s stories had a strong moral code embedded. The parables Jesus told were a massively powerful recruitment exercise. Early virals if you will. Shared and enjoyed as an entertainment.

Fast Forward 2000 years or so. Welcome to the digital age.
Now we are all writers, sharers, broadcasters. The only problem was, for a while there, information trumped storytelling. And we valued data over narrative. Many of us also had storytelling battered out of us thanks to the educational hierarchies in place over recent decades. Information was king. Whoopee doo.
But nobody really engages with data. 

Oh – we understand facts, but context, tone, colour – the narrative – this is what we are really hard wired to engage with, and remember. 
So when we saw this exciting example of a brilliant modern day identity theft parable about a man called Tom Degroote, we were excited that storytelling was at its heart. 

It doesn’t have data, stats, graphs, bullets or a statement from a security analyst. Just an ordinary, relatable guy, and the unfortunate events that happen to him.  It has characters (a fantastically dour villain), a feeling of familiarity, great tone (creepy), and a fabulous twist at the end.  It even gets away with changing genres (commercial to reality TV show) halfway through.  But we’ll forgive that due to its utter genius in engagement terms.
You can use entertainment to drive real engagement – but you need to work with those who do it full time. Thank you Febelfin.
This will almost certainly be outside your own company / industry / comfort zone. 
It can be expensive, but now there are off the shelf options emerging.
But what if you’re not sure what works?
Ask yourself what people LIKE, then do that. Simple.
(Hint: They almost never LIKE powerpoint presentations).

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