Assuming a good portion of you were just checking your Facebook news feed (or are about to), I wonder if you’ve noticed something.
So many posts and stories that attract anger, rage, and hundreds of comments…from stories that are anecdotal. And not statistical.
Anecdotal stories that make people say “The world is going to hell” or “I’m sick of people who…” are increasingly taking over social media. These are posts that feature news stories that are not statistical, growing, and common in society, but isolated and rare — yet these stories catch fire. They garner loads of pixel space, emotion, bile, and stressful anger.
They get loads of engagement, comments, and sharing.
You’ve seen them. “A Teacher did this…” “The War On Christmas…” You’ve commented on them. You’ve gotten angry and typed or tapped even harder as your jaw tightened.
It’s because anger, fear, and stress are easy and cheap.
So, the perennial question to you, a brand innovator: Do you follow society and culture or influence it?
Should you push the anecdotal news wave or interrupt it?
Whichever your response, I have suggestions if you agree to hear them.
If you notice the rise of anecdotal news stories in social media and want to exploit or mirror their popularity, let’s boil it down to its essence.
Essentially, anecdotal stories are extreme, inflammatory, and viscerally emotional. They are specific and limited, yet focus on threats existing paradigms, opened up and projected as if they are an endemic calamity on a larger scale.
Take the tiniest, most enflaming, most emotional experience and sell it like it’s the end of life as we know it.
Any brand can play with this technique; any writer, strategist, designer, or account manger should be able to see the way forward. You can ask me, too.
If you aren’t a fan of this move to a largely less-thoughtful, angry vibrational wave, here are two other ways to go:
1. Be statistical rather than anecdotal.
Quote volumes of long-term statistics, do your homework, dig for the facts, and show all your work. Reject short-term, purely emotional, impulsive strategies and messages. Instead, you and your brand can be seen as a diligent expert, authoritative, thoughtful, wise, and mature, rather than merely following the inherent youthful warlike energy of hotheaded, situational expression.
2. Champion the long view.
Make your own social posts and brand messaging about the overarching, significant, enduring things.
Take the longer, higher view of everything and eliminate any short-term, overly emotional content. Talk about love, meaning, loneliness, family, justice, emotion, fear, food, tribalism, adventure, comfort, violence, and the human thoughtfulness of life.
But you say, “Paul, we can’t do this. The world is moving too fast and we need actions, tactics, and results now!”
Indeed, it does feel that way.
So, a simple question: Do you go with the crowd or seek to stand out?
Because contrast and disruption are key elements of standing out, are they not? And once you stand out, are you beautiful, meaningful, appealing, and significant? Branding essentials never die, do they?
If everyone else is zigging with anecdotal rage, why not zag with something different?
So… I gave you a way to zig or zag.
Give it some thought.
I look forward to seeing far more, or perhaps far less, anecdotal rage on my news feed soon — thanks to you.
As a strategist, writer, designer, producer, director, actor, musician, performer, teacher, trainer and speaker, creative marketing was a potentially ideal career for Paul. Yet after years of winning dozens of global creativity awards with various agencies, Paul gave up the awards pursuit and became a professional human being.
Paul launched the1101experiment in 2001, focusing on bringing top-level strategy, creativity and multi-dimensional success to global brands, but with an added emphasis on positive ethical and social opportunities. Paul's thinking has been published worldwide and has predicted many global cultural shifts long before they happened. Paul leads a mastermind network of friends, colleagues and multi-talented professionals from around the world who are strategists, writers, artists, web, social and interactive specialists, who are involved on all client work.