(Click on comic to view at full size)
Holy content marketing, Batman! Are comic strips the new infographics?
Here’s what we’ve noticed so far this year:
2012 was the year of the ebook. These landscape-format PDFs were a fresh, modern version of the fusty old white paper: less copy, more design, and a friendly, conversational tone that daringly acknowledged that marketing is basically people talking to people.
eBooks are still with us, but they’re mutating. No longer intended to be downloaded as PDFs or viewed as flipbooks, ebooks are now being written with SlideShare in mind. This wildly effective B2B content-sharing platform is making ebooks more visual, less copy-heavy, and (because venting gets attention) more opinionated. 2012’s ebook is turning into 2013’s ‘rant deck’.
2012 was also the year we wrote copy for lots and lots of infographics. It was fun to turn raw data into a story, and a good test of our writing skills to tell that story in just a few words and labels.
Infographics are great for making an interesting point – or raising a smile – and getting lots of social media shares. But they’re less good for the ‘bread-and-butter’ of B2B content marketing: highlighting a business issue, providing expert advice on tackling it, and suggesting a solution.
New storytelling formats
Maybe that’s why this year we’re seeing visual storytelling take some interesting new turns. Comic book formats are taking off: we’ve had our first commissions this year, and low-cost, online comic-creation platforms (we’ve used pixton.com to create our own strip below) mean there’s no great cost barrier for budget-strapped marketers.
Other entertainment formats are being appropriated in new ways, too. Marketo took everyone back to preschool with its Big Marketing Activity Colouring Book earlier this year (although we’re not convinced that wasn’t content marketing jumping the shark). And, although not B2B, we really liked this experiment by Propublica to use a game to make a serious point in a fun way.
And where comics, games and colouring books lead, other (current and nostalgia-infused) pop-cultural formats can’t be far behind. RPGs? Online sitcoms? Choose-your-own-adventure books? We’d love to see any of these take hold in 2014. Especially if we get to write them.