[GUEST POST] 3 Content Formats Digital Marketers Should Be Using (But Probably Aren’t)

February 11, 2020

Guest post generously contributed by Melanie Deziel, Founder of StoryFuel and Author of “The Content Fuel Framework”


Digital marketers spend a lot of time determining the best ways to reach and engage their audience. Much of that time is spent trying to determine the message they want to share, and the story they want to tell.

But a smart marketer knows that some time should also be spent building a strategy around the format of the content—that is, the way the story is brought to life and consumed.

Written content has long been the go-to format for marketers looking to share their message with their audience quickly, easily and cheaply. The rise of the internet, and the subsequent democratization of content creation and distribution, has made it so that any marketer or thought leader can create a blog in a matter of minutes and begin sharing their thoughts. It’s cheap and easy to create, and most of us have the skills and tools we need to write by our side at all times: pen and paper, a smartphone or a computer. 

In a world where algorithms and busy consumers alike prefer eye-catching visuals and interactive content, written text sometimes needs a sidekick. 

Infographics work well for this because they can be easily split up into pieces and to create multiple eye-catching snippets of the full data story. Video serves as a sort of super-format that also allows for repurposing the extracted audio, still imagery, and transcribed text, 

But none of these content formats—written text, infographics or video—are particularly unique any more. 

If you’re looking to create content that breaks through the noise, consider these three formats you may not have used before to tell your brand story:

Timelines

Timelines are a great format to choose when you want to plot a single story, or many stories, across time, helping to place the content and messages in a chronological context. 

Timelines also work great for organizing groups of other content pieces, since any point on a digital timeline can house other content formats such as written blurbs, photos, video clips, audio clips, and more. 

Here’s an example from Lois Jeans, who used an interactive timeline to celebrate their 50th anniversary, allowing you to scroll back in time to see ads, product photos and other imagery from throughout their history. 

Here are some examples of marketing content that might be well suited to a timeline:

  • Your company “History” or “About” pages
  • Profiles of founders, customers or employees that share their background
  • Sharing the evolution of a trend, product, industry or other item
  • Stories that make projections into the future

>> More tips, tricks and tools for telling stories with timelines. 

Quizzes

Quizzes are a highly engaging content format, because they allow the consumer to explore the content at their own pace, and deliver a customized result that can increase share-ability. 

Quizzes come in multiple varieties. There are scored quizzes that test knowledge, where each question has a correct answer, but there are also personality quizzes where your answers place you into one of several categories. 

Adobe, for example, created a highly engaging interactive quiz called “My Creative Type,” which offers a series of questions about the way you think, work and live to help determine how your creativity manifests.

Here are some marketing activities that might be well suited to a quiz:

  • Segmenting your customers into types, groups or subgroups
  • Helping customers decide which product is right for them
  • Testing knowledge of a particular product, industry, or other topic

>> More tips, tricks and tools for telling stories with quizzes. 

Maps

Similar to timelines, maps are great for organizing a single content piece (or multiple content pieces. Maps help place people, things and events into a geographic context, by showing their locations in relation to one another, or to something else.   

While most maps we see are of physical places, maps can also be used in less geographic ways, to offer help navigating a building, a process, or even your face, as with this example from shaving company Harry’s.

Here are some examples of marketing messages that might be conveyed using a map:

  • Sharing locations of stores, products or 
  • Showing locations of upcoming or past events
  • Stories with navigational elements or instructions

>> More tips, tricks, and tools for telling stories with maps.

There are plenty of other unique formats you can explore for telling stories to your audience in news ways, including everything from augmented reality and virtual reality to comic books and courses. 

But challenging yourself to tell stories using these three formats — timelines, quizzes, and maps — is a great way to mix up your creative routine and find entirely new ways to engage your audience with your message. 


Melanie Deziel - StoryFuelMelanie Deziel is the Founder of StoryFuel, and the author of The Content Fuel Framework: How to Generate Endless Content Ideas, releasing February 24.