Let’s be honest- there’s a lot of video content on the internet, and a healthy percentage of it is terrible. Even more is well-produced, but doesn’t hold our interest. Why is that? How can a piece of content look good, sound great, and yet completely miss the mark when it comes to memorability and engagement with the brand it is speaking for? The answer might surprise you.
A few years ago, I stumbled on a study by Princeton scientist Uri Hassan. Hassan wanted to learn more about what’s going on in the human brain when it is engaged in story; both telling and listening. Hassan and his team monitored a woman’s brain activity via MRI while she told a story. They noted the regions that showed the most activity. Next, the scientists had a group of people listen to a recording of the woman’s story while also being monitored. Here’s the fun part: The woman told the story twice- once in Russian and once in English. The listeners only spoke English. When the listeners heard the story in Russian, there was very little brain activity. The auditory regions of the brain lit up, but not much else.
What happens next is fascinating.
When the woman spoke English, the volunteers understood her story, and their brains synchronized. When she had activity in her insula, an emotional brain region, the listeners did too. When her frontal cortex lit up, so did theirs. By simply telling a story, the woman could plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into the listeners' brains.
Hassan and his team had stumbled upon an amazing discovery: Our brains are hard-wired to empathize through the vehicle of story. When we listen to a narrative, the chemistry of our brain changes in such a way that we cannot help but synchronize our minds with the description of the experience we are hearing. If I tell you a story about how amazing the coffee shop smelled this morning, the parts of your brain associated with smell will start lighting up like a Christmas tree. It’s not that you simply understand the information I am offering; neurologically, you have become an active participant in the event I am describing. You can almost smell it too.
As a person who creates video content every day, this revelation excites me. What better way to tell a story than through video? As a marketer, it challenges me to craft a story every time I pick up a camera. But what does it mean for you and your brand?
- If you want to connect with your target market at a deep level, you need to tell a story. When you do, the audience will feel with you.
- Consider and discover your brand’s story. Why does your company do what it does? What are its ambitions, hopes, and wildest dreams? Beyond turning a profit, why do you exist?
- Couple storytelling with solid strategy. Now that your audience is in sync with your story, how do they connect? What is your measurable objective?
- Consider the power of video as a storytelling tool. That’s not to say that other mediums cannot tell effective stories. However, we love movies for a reason: Moving images have a unique ability to draw us in.
According to eMarketer, around 80% of internet users age 18 and older consume digital video content every day- an average of 55 minutes. And there’s a lot of content out there to be consumed; a great deal of messaging and advertising at that. If you want your brand to stand out among the competition, you need to tell a great story. It will position you like nothing else can.Back to Blog