How to Transform Your Digital Assets to Drive Online Engagement

Guest post by Chris Cummings, Pass It Down

Turn history into your greatest storyteller! Our favorite tips for optimizing online engagement with your digital assets.

In the first post of our partner series on “Turning History Into Your Greatest Storyteller,” History Associates Incorporated laid out why careful planning, digitization, and asset management are critically important and provided great tips to get started. Now that your assets are digitized, it’s time to figure out how to craft your assets into a compelling digital experience that will drive user engagement. Let’s get started!

Tip #1: Focus on creating a powerful story for your audience

At the core of all great digital content is a great story. Robert McKee said that “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.” We couldn’t agree more. Here’s why storytelling is so important.

First, humans are literally hardwired to remember and engage with stories more than facts. A study by Jennifer Aaker, a researcher at Stanford University, found that “stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.” Essentially, human brains automatically remember stories more than fact because it was an evolutionary way of surviving before people had written language.

Second, brain studies have shown that when a person hears a story, the brain produces key chemicals that are not produced when someone hears a fact. From dopamine, which is the pleasure center of the brain; to cortisol, which focuses a person’s attention; to endorphins; to oxytocin, the love hormone—stories make the brain light up like a Christmas tree.

Thus, if you want to create a compelling digital experience from your assets that will drive audience engagement, you dramatically increase your chance of success if you focus on storytelling.

Tip #2: Tell your story in an engaging medium.

One of the biggest mistakes we see organizations make after the digitization process is the failure to bring their story to life in a dynamic or interactive medium. Too often, organizations simply point visitors to an online repository or Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) and mistakenly believe they are checking the box for providing online content and digital experience. This is a huge mistake.

Why? Digital Asset Management Systems are wonderful tools but they were designed with the end goal of content management. DAMS are an organizational tool—modern-day file cabinets that allow you to easily organize your assets and quickly find them when needed. Essentially, while the file cabinets are important for the management of your content, they were never designed to be a tool for audience engagement. Instead, it’s critical to use your DAMS as a well of knowledge and resources to craft compelling digital stories. When it comes to creating an engaging digital experience, make sure you are using a digital platform dedicated to turning your assets into a beautiful story.

What should you be looking for in a digital platform? Great storytelling platforms will allow you to tell your story in full multimedia, they will be responsively designed to scale across every device where your audience might consume content, and they must be accessible to allow everyone to view your stories.

Tip #3: Capture your audience’s attention quickly

8 seconds. That’s how long you have to capture someone’s attention in today’s digital world. According to a study by Microsoft in 2015, attention spans have fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today due to the rise of smart devices. That makes the average attention span shorter than that of a goldfish: 9 seconds for those who are wondering.

No matter how great your story is, if you can’t capture your audience’s attention quickly you are not going to have engagement. But there are some key things you can do to help address this change in human behavior.

First, make sure you choose a compelling photo or video as the cover image for your story. Think about how, when walking through a book store, an interesting book cover will capture your attention, causing you to then pick up that book. Every story you create should be designed to have a compelling image at the start that makes someone want to stop and learn more.

Second, craft an interesting title for your story. One of the most successful tools that marketers use to drive engagement is by creating clickbait headlines—let’s use them for good, not evil, though. Why is clickbait so successful? A compelling title gives the audience a hint as to what they might find if they click into a story while still creating a sense of mystery.

For example, one of our clients recently launched a story titled “The most exciting scoreless hoops match in history.” The title works because it’s short, it literally promises excitement, and it makes you want to click to learn how it was possible for neither team to score.

So, as you prepare to create an amazing story for your audience, don’t skip out on planning an interesting title or image, lest all your hard work be lost to the ages.

Ready to get started creating compelling digital content?

Don’t forget! Capture your audience’s attention quickly, use your digital assets to share stories instead of straightforward facts, and tell stories in a beautiful, engaging medium and you will be on your way to driving incredible digital engagement.

About the Author

Chris is the Founder & CEO of Pass It Down, an award-winning digital exhibit design platform transforming how brands and cultural institutions engage their visitors. Pass It Down has been recognized globally as a pioneer in the field of experiential marketing and digital storytelling by Techstars, Coca-Cola, the Consumer Technology Association, Established, and Miller Lite. Chris consults with the world’s leading Innovators on how to drive visitor engagement and visitor experience and speaks globally about how to drive visitor experience. Visit the Pass It Down website to learn more.

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