When asked to pick a session to live blog from day one of SAScon 2014, my eyes immediately lit up at the chance to cover Opta Joe and his talk on Twitter tips … (@jxreynolds if you are interested) … But Jonny Pennington got in there first and here I am with Danny Ashton of NeoMam Studios.
I jest, I jest! I am incredibly excited to cover the swaggering Danny Ashton of the hottest visual content agency in the North West, if not the country or the world, while he gives us the lowdown on why infographics work, the psychology behind them, and how to do it yourself. I’m Jake Reynolds, and this is my first ever live blog.
Fun fact! Our brains have had far longer to evolve to visual information than they have to process text. It takes a tenth of a second for the eye and brain to understand an image and the information contained within it.
Over the past 12 months something strange has happened: journalists have been coming to NeoMam Studios and asking for their work, rather than NeoMam having to pitch the work to them.
Given Danny’s background in outreach, you can probably understand why this is a little odd for him …
So why is NeoMam’s content attracting the journalists?
Infographics are the prettiest flowers but there is a whole chunk o’ science behind the sweet visual appearance that explains why they work so well. So here we go with the neuroscience and brain theory …
Forgive me if things go a little off grid here, I’m a rocket scientist, not a brain surgeon.
So the brain has three bits, right:
Reptilian (no, not David Icke)
• Base stuff like porn, sex, animal responses, MailOnline.com.
• Complexities vary … some like stuff, some don’t. Emotional responses.
• Deep brain, used for critical thinking. Complex themes digested here.
So with the help of a lovely triangle illustration we see that low complexity, lowest common denominator topics are your reptiles/Reptilians/reptilian brain food.
It works because you are all monsters! The Daily Mail and the Sun are cleaning up off you all!
So surely this is good though, clicks = good?
Your brand reputation can take a hit from trading in these base elements. Do you want to risk your rep with cool things like sex and danger? Probably not.
Not everyone has access to a huge audience like these major Reptilian outlets do. So reptilian content is difficult.
Now for Limbic, the middle one, the emotional middle child.
We are emotionally hardwired from birth. We all have our own emotional hooks. Each audience will have certain things that draw an emotional response.
Joy, happiness, etc – you know all the good feelings – share well on the web. But so do awe, anxiety and anger. This is Buzzfeed and Upworthy’s meat and drink. Well done boys. But not sadness: this does not work. Sorry sadness. Find the emotional hook of your target audience.
Now for the money stuff – neomammalian time (it’s got to be good if he named his agency after it).
Psychology, versatility and economy are the keys to passing the journalists, who act as the gatekeepers to the big, big audiences. Can their reputations back your content?
Science time is over now, allegedly. Time for a case study.
How To Disappear Online
(How To guides work every time.)
NeoMam take a test version of the piece to Imgur to get feedback from a few 1000 users. The content gets neomammalian approval from the test audience through feedback, abuse etc. Whatever is said, it all helps refine the finished product. Additionally NeoMam now have proof that the audience is ready to engage with this content when they take it to the gatekeepers, the journos.
Lifehacker picked up ‘How To Dissapear Online’. This then trickled down to Time, Mail Online etc. Big Success. It satisfied every part of your hungry, hungry brain. Links aren’t the goal though. Human interaction is. And it worked. More shares, likes and comments than you could shake a reptilian alien kings sceptre at.
But remember … generic interactivity is not a magic bullet. In many examples of infographics and interactive pieces, people were still missing the framework. The internet has evolved beyond the gimmick. If there is no emotional response, and won’t impress a gatekeeper, then it won’t work.
1. Identify the emotional hooks of your audience.
2. Fact check/evaluate/test to make sure your content passes the gatekeepers.
3. Seduce the reptile within. Make it easy to digest.
Well that’s all from me here in Room 3 of the MMU Business School. That was genuinely some top work from Danny Ashton who has every reason to be excited about the future of his business. Hopefully those of you not lucky enough to be there in person can glean a bit of info from my ramblings here on the PushOn blog.
Follow Danny here: @dannyashton
Follow NeoMam Studios here: @neomammalian
Image source: P. D. MacLean, The Triune Brain in Evolution: Role in Paleocerebral Functions, Plenum, New York, 1990 (via http://phe.rockefeller.edu/sthubert/)