‘No f***head, you are not a storyteller’

If you’re running an advertising campaign, especially online, you need a storyteller to take your message and tell it in a way that compels people to engage with it.

There is a simple test to know whether you are working with someone who is a storyteller. Just answer this question: do they tell stories in any conventional sense of the word? No? Then they’re not a storyteller.

Blog article over. Thanks for reading. JUST KIDDING!

What a storyteller is may seem obvious, but it is a buzzword that is liberally, and incorrectly used all too often. Across nearly every industry there are folks who use the word to describe what makes them uniquely qualified to do the job they do.

The practice is especially prevalent, in my experience, among my colleagues in the marketing and public relations space. As an actual storyteller, who before launching Five Seasons Media, spent more than a decade perfecting the art of disseminating information in a memorable way as an on-air journalist, I can assure you the vast majority of folks calling themselves storytellers are not.

Several years ago, a collaborator of mine, a TV photographer and actual storyteller, shared with me this video. In short, it features Stefan Sagmeister, who is also an actual storyteller. In the video, Sagmeister explains his own frustrations with people calling themselves storytellers who, while may be talented at their respective professions, are still not. At one point he discusses a roller coaster designer who allegedly referred to themselves as a, you guessed it, storyteller. Sagmeister’s response: “No F***head. You are not a storyteller. You’re a roller coaster designer.”

When most scroll through their Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram feeds and see an advertisement, they move on to the next piece of content. There’s a reason for that: In 2020, people don’t watch ads that feel like ads. People are busy and have chosen to use their spare time to engage on social media to connect with friends, family, and compelling content.

The challenge for social media marketers and public relations experts is creating content, like an ad, people want to interact with. Despite this, most ads you’ll see on your favorite social media platforms have a low level of engagement. At Five Seasons Media, we think among the largest reasons for this is because there is no storytelling involved. Bottom line, when there is no story, people have no reason to engage. Our philosophy, which we think every marketer should embrace, is to not “create an ad. Tell a story.”    

There is one positive sign from my perspective of folks erroneously using the word storyteller – it proves there is immense value in being one and should you plan to step up your social media or public relations game you need one.

This blog article was written by Five Seasons Media’s Chief Creative Officer, Josh Scheinblum. For questions about how Five Seasons Media can help your organization, please contact Josh via email at Josh@5SeasonsMedia.com.

Five ways to improve your Facebook page

Ignorance is not an excuse to have a poor social media game.

During my time as the owner of a premier social media marketing firm, Five Seasons Media, I’ve heard lots of excuses about why some businesses have actively chosen to rarely update, or neglect entirely, their Facebook page. Of all of them, “I don’t understand it” or “I don’t have the time” rank at the top.

Fortunately, all of the clients we work worth (hence why they hired us) recognize you can’t know everything, see the value in what we do as a firm, and know the relationship between Facebook and driving sales grows ever closer with each passing day. This article is not for those folks who have the maturity and business acumen to recognize sometimes it’s best to hire the professionals – wassup?   

If you’re serious about dominating on Facebook, I can’t recommend enough hiring a professional company with a track record of doing it. That said, there is no reason to have to pay someone to consult you on steps you can take on your own today to better position you for digital success down the road.  

Here are five things every business can do to put themselves on a path to a brighter Facebook future:  

1). Use high resolution images

Look at your profile photo. Is it grainy? Was it posted years ago? Shot on an old cell phone, perhaps? For prospective customers who seek you out as a business by typing in your name into their Facebook search bar, this may be their first impression of your company. While you may be a business ready to perform at the top of your game for prospective clients, a photo that looks like you’re not ready for the modern world can be a turn off. Updating your profile photo with a higher resolution image is an easy way to entice people to not just seek you out but to engage with you too.   

2). Strive to make Facebook apart of your business model  

When you’re running your own business, social media can admittedly be time consuming and feel like it is taking you away from what your primary purpose is. The good news, however, in the words of commentator Ben Shapiro, “facts don’t care about your feelings”. If you’re running a business and hope to be successful for many years to come, Facebook needs to be apart of your evolving business model. There are 2.6-billion users on Facebook, and of those, the average age of an account holder is between 25 and 35 years old, according to data from Statista. For most of these users, they grew up using Facebook, and will likely continue to use the platform for the foreseeable future. Fail to appeal to this demographic now where they’re at, on Facebook, and you may not be on the sunny side of the free market for much longer.    

3). Engage with those who engage with you

Facebook, like other social media platforms, is all about connecting people. As a business, it allows you to hear directly from customers and those considering working with you in a setting where all feel equal. If someone messages you on Facebook with a comment or concern, take the time to message them back. This will allow you to either to start building a relationship, or, build a stronger one.  

4). Put effort into your “about” section  

Your “about” section allows people to learn more about your business and the other ways in which they can connect with you. If you see a blank section on your about page, fill it in.

5). Don’t go dark. Ever.

I have nothing else to add to this suggestion. In short, imagine you’re Wilford Brimley caring for his diabetes, check your Facebook page and check it often.

Like so many problems that emerge in business, leaders need to be humble, and instead of resisting waves of change, one needs to embrace them and ride them into the future. Facebook is the future.

This blog article was written by Five Seasons Media’s Chief Creative Officer, Josh Scheinblum. For questions about how Five Seasons Media can help your organization, please contact Josh via email at Josh@5SeasonsMedia.com.

TikTok, the new frontier or sinister device?

Some free social media marketing advice: pay attention to TikTok.

The controversial Chinese digital import is making waves in the industry and international relations space that is worthy of our attention. The reason for this is two-fold:

  1. TikTok has grown into a social media force that presents itself with myriad opportunities for monetization.
  2. TikTok may be a tool of the Chinese government designed to spy on its users.

In business, two ideas are not always mutually exclusive. In this case, however, they might be. The question before businesses and consumers considering adding TikTok to their social media portfolio is whether the platform is an asset or a liability in disguise.

With Facebook closing in on 20 years of existence, Instagram 10, and Twitter around 16, TikTok is the new kid on the block. And as younger demographics continue to opt to engage more on TikTok and less with older platforms, they are a threat to the status-quo.  

Like any new form of technology, there have been those sounding the alarm with their concerns about TikTok from the beginning. What is different with TikTok’s origin story though is it didn’t take off in Silicon Valley or New England, rather in communist China.

The latest headlines making the rounds concerning TikTok is that the U.S. government may opt to “ban” the app over national security concerns. Will this happen? Who knows. That said, there is a real possibility that TikTok and other apps with questionable ties to the Chinese government may become an online relic of the past, as has happened in India.

While TikTok’s future in the United States may be ambiguous, what is clear: with hundreds of millions of downloads, and with major brands like Wal-Mart, the NBA, and Calvin Klein signing on, social media marketers must be able to provide clients advice on how to increase their engagement for who choose to use it.

This blog article was written by Five Seasons Media’s Chief Creative Officer, Josh Scheinblum. For questions about how Five Seasons Media can help your organization, please contact Josh via email at Josh@5SeasonsMedia.com.

Channel your inner mailbox

This is a mailbox made to look like corn. It’s amazing.

Take a good look at this mailbox: 

Is this a great mailbox or the greatest of all time?

As the Chief Creative Officer of a social media marketing company, Five Seasons Media, that proudly calls the “corn state” home, I feel obligated to go with the latter. If it were goat themed, however, I could be convinced otherwise (looking at you Lowe’s, make it happen). 

It wasn’t until I saw this mailbox that it hit me: mailboxes and social media marketing have a lot in common. On one hand, while anyone can obtain either a social media account or a mailbox easily, getting either to stand out and leave a lasting impression is a challenge that takes a professional.

It’s not enough to grab someone’s attention and not give them something in return. In the case of this mailbox, it’s functional. The postal delivery person will keep coming back. 

For you and your social media page, you have to deliver a message worth sharing and encourages people to continue to interact with your brand. 

To be fair, if this mailbox were a Facebook page, it would be the equivalent of one that exclusively shares cat videos. While it certainly would get views and drive engagement (it never ceases to amaze me how many people love watching cat videos), where it would struggle is converting those views into sales. 

As I’ve said before, good digital content comes down to storytelling. If you want to increase your digital footprint, tell a good story. With cats, you will never be surprised with how they continue to surprise you. I’m not going to say they’re storytellers but when they’re captured on video, there is definitely something happening along those lines. If cats can figure out how to monetize their daily lives into a scalable business, watch out Elon Musk. 

Every business has a story.

Let me be clear: Every. Business. Has. A. Story.

Beyond industry buzzwords and digital algorithms, the best indicator of whether a piece of content will do well on social media or not comes down to if it emotionally resonates. In our case, we’ve done work with companies that sell expensive heavy machinery to tech companies that produce apps for your smartphone to winemakers and everything in between. I can assure you, if you can give people a compelling reason to engage with you they will.

If your goal is to sell a product online, don’t focus on trying to make a sale, as has been done with traditional TV advertising for decades. In short, people do not watch ads, they watch stories. If what is happening to television providers isn’t enough evidence to convince you of this new reality, ask yourself this: do you watch a program and look forward to the commercials? Unless you’re watching The Bachelor, the answer is no.

Your target audience, whoever they may be, is becoming increasingly discerning at being able to identify what is an ad. If they think you’re one of the hundreds of ads they see a week, chances are they’ll swipe down and move on to the next piece of content. 

The bottom line: try and be a corn themed mailbox and make a lasting impact. 

This blog article was written by Five Seasons Media’s Chief Creative Officer, Josh Scheinblum. For questions about how Five Seasons Media can help your organization, please contact Josh via email at Josh@5SeasonsMedia.com.

Getting creative with COVID

COVID sucks and I do not care who is offended by that statement. The disease has killed too many, risked the safety of the world, and has turned the economy on its head. One need only scroll through their favorite social media platform to see there is no shortage of folks who are also angry over the situation an invisible virus has caused.

Through every challenge, however, even during something as terrible as the coronavirus, there are opportunities. For social media marketers and content creators, the potential prospects should be obvious: millions of Americans are home, they are on social media, they are bored, and they are hungry for originally produced content from the brands they love. It’s an opportunity that will likely never come again quite like this.

While there may be a need for engaging storytelling, where in lies the challenge is creating content in a way that does not further spread the disease or put clients in potentially risky situations. Clip on microphones for a video interview? In most cases, not to get to technical, it is simply not an option. Doing a multi-camera shoot that has one camera up close and “tight”? Bad idea. Handshaking with your client? Forget about it. You get the idea.

Recently, a client of mine, that produces heavy machinery, tapped our business, Five Seasons Media, to create several videos highlighting their customers. The nature of the work their customers do would make it nearly impossible to practice social distancing had we sent a crew out to capture their efforts on site.

My team and I had an idea to deal with this situation. We decided, with our awesome client’s blessing, to have the subjects of the videos shoot out their own material on their smartphones.

Let me be clear, not everyone who can operate a camera is photographer and not everyone who can press “record” is a storyteller. In fact, in most cases, in my experience, most people who call themselves either a photographer or storyteller are not.

That said, with some heavy amounts of editing on our end, basic instructions on best shooting practices to those tasked with gathering video, and a request that the subjects record as much video as possible, we were confident for the purposes of this project we could create something that was truly unique and would stand out. We did.

The videos we have created have a feel all their own that surpassed even our own expectations. After polishing up the clips the subjects came back with, they have offered a unique and authentic glimpse into their world that is connecting deeply with those who watch the final product. The thousands of views each video is racking up is testament to a job well done.   

Five Seasons Media is not the only content creation company to have had this idea I have learned. After we completed our first handful of videos, I stumbled across an article about a similar project Gary Vaynerchuck, of VaynerMedia, did for Kraft Heinz Co. I need to give credit where credit is due, it was also well done.

The lesson here for content creators is the same one business leaders across every industry are being forced to learn in the wake of COVID, embrace the chaos and turn it to your advantage, or become another victim of the virus’ economic impact. The choice is yours.

This blog article was written by Five Seasons Media’s Chief Creative Officer, Josh Scheinblum. For questions about how Five Seasons Media can help your organization, please contact Josh via email at Josh@5SeasonsMedia.com.

All hail the ‘Pizza King’

If you’re a millennial and use social media there is likely no doubt when someone refers to the “Pizza King” or “El Prez” you know who they are talking about.

If you’re unsure of who these prestigious titles belong to, that’s fine, but if you run a company affiliated with anything pizza and you don’t, in short: major problem. Just ask one Midwest frozen pizza company who has found themselves on the dark side of the Pizza King’s kingdom.

The Pizza King is none other than Dave Portnoy, the founder of the online sports and lifestyle blog, Barstool Sports. The company Portnoy began has a cult following of fans who actively engage on Barstool’s social media accounts. They affectionately call themselves “Stoolies”.

As part of his online mission, Portnoy does daily pizza review videos where he goes to a pizzeria and evaluates the pies they serve up. He scores them one through 10 and rarely gives a round number, those he calls “rookie scores”. He’s also known to plug a Barstool product or two in between bites. 

The reviews Portnoy produces aren’t for everyone but at the core of each video is a story that resonates with it’s target consumers. Admittedly, like any good social media campaign, Portnoy is not attempting to appeal to everyone. The language he uses can be crass, the jokes he makes are almost never politically correct, and he does not hold back when giving his opinion about a pizza he’s breaking down. However you slice Portnoy’s videos, what is clear is that millions of people love what he is serving up. And if you own a pizza business, there is a good chance, at least online, he has a larger social media following than you.

For eateries that score well, they just enjoyed a free advertisement. Even those that may not have done well still manage to walk away unscathed, as Portnoy’s more brutal comments are likely forgotten by the time the next video is released. That is, unless a pizza business manages to ruffle his feathers. It rarely happens but when it does, watch out.

In the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Portnoy, under quarantine, has adapted his format and has taken to reviewing frozen pizzas from his New York City home. The videos suggest he and his team reached out to several producers of frozen pizza via social media early in the days when he began sheltering in place. Most companies they connected with, Portnoy has said, mailed him a pizza. Many more have (to their marketing team’s credit) sent him pizzas unsolicited too.

There was one frozen pizza company, however, that went in a different direction.  Instead of sending a pizza to Portnoy, they allegedly wrote Barstool Sports an essay explaining why they did not have time to mail him a pie amid the coronavirus. Portnoy’s perspective on the situation: in the amount of time it took this pizza company to write their letter, all while delivering pizzas to myriad grocery stores across the country, they could have found a moment to mail him a damn pie. However you feel, what transpired has given Portnoy new material. 

I have a confession, I am one of those people who tune in to watch Portnoy’s pizza reviews. I have been off and on for years. What keeps me, and millions of others of viewers, coming back day after day, whether most realize it or not, is that Portnoy is a storyteller all his own. He is the central character, the leader of his people, forever protecting them from any adversary who dares sell offensive tastes of sauce and cheese. The pizza company who didn’t send him a pizza has become his latest villain. 

Not every good story needs a villain per say but it does need something on an emotional level for viewers to connect with. Whether you think Portnoy’s approach is fair or not, the view counts he has racked up in quarantine prove the content he is making is resonating.  

There are several takeaways from watching this latest pizza saga unfold: 

1). Portnoy’s ability to adapt his reviews to an evolving environment should be lauded. They show he is still able to do his job and do it well from home.  

2). Every business, even a frozen pizza company in the heartland, needs to have a strong social media game. The lesson here is that one needs to create the content consumers demand or face the consequences. Plain and simple.   

3). Businesses need to know what digital content is trending in their industry. This will allow them to ride a wave of engagement or, if they don’t, have that wave crash into them.   

4). Content, like Portnoy, is King. To stay competitive in an increasingly digital world, every company needs a professional who understands how to tell your brand’s story in a way that spreads your message on your terms. As I’ve said in a previous blog post, what the pandemic has made clear is that even businesses models that have withstood the test of time need to change or they will become the latest casualty of the free market. 

This blog article was written by Five Seasons Media’s Chief Creative Officer, Josh Scheinblum. For questions about how Five Seasons Media can help your organization, please contact Josh via email at Josh@5SeasonsMedia.com.

I don’t know everything

I have a confession to make. I don’t know everything. Here is what I do know, you don’t know everything either.

I also know, while you understand your story better than anyone, most of us have trouble articulating it in terms that resonate deeply with others, especially those who haven’t connected with us emotionally already. And you know what? That’s not only okay, it’s a damn good thing.

To function as a society, we need each other. There has never been a time in recent human history where this has become more apparent than in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Basic levels of face to face human interaction is something many of us, myself included, took for granted before “shelter in place” became a way of life. Sunday dinners in my home, which had typically consisted of a packed house filled with family and friends, have changed into gatherings of just my immediate family, where others pop in to say “hello” over Facetime and Skype calls. It’s not ideal but what is clear is our connections remain.

For many businesses and non-profits this has meant more than smaller dinners, as models of success that have withstood the test of time are being forced to adapt to our new world fast. Many have already shown they’re unable to do so. It’s sad but it has become yet another fact of life.

The good news is during every difficult trial there is hidden opportunity. While social distancing may have replaced hugs and handshakes, what has never been more unambiguous are peoples’ cravings for interaction.

Social media platforms, like Facebook, have even gone so far as to change some of the ways their users interact on their platform to accommodate growing demand for their services.

Our company, Five Seasons Media, has been fortunate in midst of the pandemic. Our purpose as a business is to help our clients engage with their consumers in an ever-evolving media landscape. In times such as these, expert storytellers and social media marketers, whose very foundations are built on comfortably embracing reform, are needed now more than ever to bridge the growing gap between brands and those they serve. Fortunately, many companies and non-profits understand this reality and in turn will not only survive the unprecedented challenges they face but will reap long-term rewards.  

No matter how challenging our times get, there will always be those that refuse to change and insist they know what it takes to move forward despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Those folks will be the latest casualties of a free market where only the best ideas can survive.

The fact is neither you nor I know everything but each of us has our own special gifts. When we share our services with others who have their own areas of expertise, we succeed together.

This blog article was written by Five Seasons Media’s Chief Creative Officer, Josh Scheinblum. For questions about how Five Seasons Media can help your organization, please contact Josh via email at Josh@5SeasonsMedia.com.