Storytelling As Advertising

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The big hubbub recently has been all about Facebook’s announcement that they’ll be limiting the visibility of posts with clickbait headlines. For the average Facebook user, this probably comes as a welcome breath of air: no more bombardment by “10 Things You Didn’t Know About ____” and “____ Did This, You’ll Never Guess What Happens Next!”

For advertisers, however, Facebook is broadcasting loud and clear: time to stop being lazy! There’s a very good reason why clickbait ads and articles are all over the place: they work, let’s be honest. However, they’re also very often the easy way out. Instead, at least when targeting an audience on Facebook, advertisers and marketers will now have to get creative.

The easiest place to start with this is by reverting to one of the simplest forms of writing: storytelling. Whether your link is leading to a product advertisement or an article, there is always a story to be told. In terms of drawing clicks through storytelling, The Onion has to be one of the best sites I’ve seen. Almost daily I see creativity in their headlines, and not just in the expected form of satirical humor. Many off their articles, fictionalized or exaggerated though they may be, tell a story.

Just last week, they re-posted an article about the new Tenth Circle of Hell.

This was one of the cleverest articles I’ve seen them do. There was of course the requisite humor: the new circle being sponsored by Blockbuster, creative new eternal tortures like the unattainable need to replace a toner cartridge, etc. What really made this article leap out, though, was the care that went into not only piggybacking on the well-known Inferno poem, but going out of their way to both craft a poignant jab at corporate greed and create entire characters (like “inferno spokesperson Antedeus” and Grogar the Malefic) to enrich the setting.

Now, obviously you won’t be coming up with demon characters to populate your product advertisements, but the spirit of that creativity needs to remain. Anecdotes highlighting the usefulness of the product are a great place to start, but possibilities abound. Keep that creativity flowing, and let Facebook’s new strictures help get advertising out of the rut of laziness.

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