Next up in my interview series is Kristin Tynski. Kristin has published viral emotions research on the Harvard Business Review, and she was interviewed by The New York Times on what makes a campaign go viral.

Explain your role at Fractl.

I'm a co-founder and SVP Creative at Fractl. I'm responsible for helping to guide the internal processes that help us create innovative content campaigns that resonate with the largest possible online audiences while also serving our clients' business goals. I also train and manage our team of content creators, helping them iterate toward the most compelling content possible.

What traits are essential in a quality content creator?

The five characteristics that we look for when hiring new content creators include:

  1. A high level of curiosity and breadth of interest areas. Because we work with such a diverse group of clients that operate in many different niches, it's important for our team to have general understandings of many different topic areas. We basically look for people who are happiest getting lost wandering the Internet for hours on end.
  2. Having an analytical mind with proven experience in data analysis. Data increasingly lies at the heart of some of our most interesting content executions. Someone with a background in data analysis, who is able to parse out the interesting story from a sea of obscure data, can often create content that is not only fascinating but inherently newsworthy.
  3. Being an expert in Internet sleuthing and Google-fu. Finding obscure information or trending stories is essential in being good at coming up with story/content ideas that have not yet been fully explored online. Those who are best at finding these hidden gems have a significant advantage
  4. The ability to manage complexity efficiently. High-level content generally relies on the skill sets of more than just the content originator. It usually relies on creative input from writers, designers, and developers, and managing this process requires an ability to deal with a lot of complexity while keeping one's eye on the primary content goals. Maintaining a top-level view while not missing the small stuff is hard to do, but it's absolutely essential.
  5. Being an empathetic and effective storyteller. It's not enough to be able to find stories that are emotionally compelling or newsworthy. A good content creator must also be able to properly bring out the emotions in the reader through the way the material is presented and explored.

What makes a successful piece of viral content?

The 10 characteristics of viral content include:

  1. Evokes high arousal (usually meaning the content is surprising)
  2. Engages positive emotions
  3. Creates connection/empathy between content and content consumer
  4. Has a newsworthy hook
  5. Is easily understood
  6. Is a quickly consumed media format
  7. Is simple to share
  8. Generates value or works toward a goal when shared
  9. Doesn't reflect negatively on sharer
  10. Appeals to broad/universal interests or topic areas (food, pets, common life events, celebrities, etc.)

What is the role of content in the future of marketing?

The Internet has democratized the relationship between brands and consumers. The one-too-many approach of outbound marketing is no longer the status quo, and consumers are now demanding a higher level of engagement and value-add from the brands they become loyal to. For those who adapt to this new paradigm, the opportunities are immense.

Through the creation of compelling and related content brands can provide value and build loyalty with today's audiences while also introducing them to their product or service in a way that doesn't feel manipulative or intrusive. Content marketing also benefits from the network effects of the social Internet, allowing highly shareable content and messages to proliferate at rapid speed amongst key consumer groups. As display and other outbound techniques continue to lose efficacy--and as ad blockers and other consumer tools for eliminating intrusive or abusive ads proliferate--content marketing will continue to increase in value as one of the only sustainable methods for penetrating large markets quickly while simultaneously building brand affinity, loyalty, and product or service familiarity.

If you had to choose your three favorite content marketing campaigns, what would they be, and why?

  • Dying to be Barbie: I absolutely love the visuals of this campaign; they really drive home the thesis of how unrealistic the Barbie body truly is. Backed up by stats, this campaign was incredibly emotionally compelling and hit on most, if not all, of the factors listed in question No. 2.
  • Perceptions of Perfection: As a visual piece that is easy to understand and consume, this one was a real winner. It was both controversial and extremely emotionally activating, a hard combo to beat.
  • Marvel Origins: As someone who loves superheroes, this was hands-down one of my favorites. The location-based ego hook was what made this one really pop.
Published on: Jan 28, 2016