How to use comics to engage your audience

How to use comics to engage your audience

I’ve been drawing newspaper style comics since I was a little kid. I’d create my own characters and send them off on misadventures. In high school, I created Spud, who would later become the protagonist in my Super Spud comic. I drew all my Spud comics in a notebook and showed them to my classmates after a comic was finished. While my drawing skills weren’t exceptional and my plots were silly and simple, my classmates enjoyed my work very much and always asked when Spud will go on his next adventure. I regularly drew recurring and my favourites were parodies of popular culture and when Spud depicted the typical issues of my fellow students (and teachers). In other words, my comics resonated with my audience. “People love comics about their work problems” This quote comes from the fantastic ebook, The Awesome Adventures of Megacorps Marketers (or: How To Use Comics in B2B Content Marketing), by Radix Communications. Founder Fiona Campbell-Howes explains that using comics as a visual medium can create empathy with your audience. “It’s all about the story. Drawing the audience in creating characters they identify with in a world they recognize showing we understand their problems”. This is why, for example, a comic strip like Dilbert has been popular among cubicle dwellers and Family Circus and For Better or For Worse has been popular with families. “And with luck, we also make them laugh” Humour can form a great connection with your audience. In fact, humour is one of the winning ingredients for engaging with your audience on social networks. Of course, comics can also tug at...

Nuts and bolts of podcasting recap

I was guest expert on the excellent #ContentChat offering my advice on launching a podcast. Podcasting made a revival in recent months so I was honoured to have been asked to share my tips and experience along with participating podcasters. I’ve learned so much! You can read the Twitter chat summary on Storify. Questions asked include: 1. What kind of expertise do you need to produce a podcast? How hard is it to learn? 2. What type of equipment do you need and how much does it cost to launch a new podcast? 3. How do you get people to subscribe to your podcast? 4. What’s the hardest part about podcasting? 5. Can you host your podcast on your website? Why or why not? 6. What types of hosting options are there? 7. Do you need a website if you have a podcast? Why or why not? 8. How can people learn more about launching a podcast? #ContentChat takes place Mondays at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time (Toronto/New York/Peru) and is co-moderated by Jenise Fryatt and Lori Guerrieri of Smarter Shift, a digital marketing and content management agency. On a slightly different note, just a reminder that my free ebook, A Guide to Podcasting, has been released! It contains...

A Quick Guide to Podcasting

Podcasting seems to have made a resurgence in the mainstream, especially in social marketing circles, in recent months. As both a podcast producer and listener, it’s natural that I’d be happy about this! I’ve been podcasting since 2006 and the amount of fun, community, and opportunities that you build for yourself when you produce a podcast makes it difficult for me to ever imagine myself not podcasting. So I thought I’d share my learnings and experience with podcasting as well as my joy of cartooning in an ebook that I’m offering for free. Entitled, A Quick Guide to Podcasting, it’s part comic book and part survival guide. I hope my 10-page book will help you get set up on your first podcasting adventure. Or if you’re already podcasting, there may be some new tips that will be helpful to you. My ebook stars Spud, the main character in my web comic at superspud.com. I cover microphones, rss feeds, domain names, using smart phones as a short cut, how to sound like you’re not reading when you really are, choosing the best room in your house to record in, audio filtering, how to know if podcasting is right for you, where to find royalty-free music, community building, engaging listeners, and much more. Please note that I only cover audio since I’ve only dabbled a little bit in video over the years. Perhaps a topic for a future ebook? Watch this space! My ebook, A Quick Guide to Podcasting, is available in PDF format and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International...

Challenges of community changes

In celebration of Community Manager Appreciation Day (a.k.a. #cmad) on January 26th, one live Google+ hangout after another was broadcast for 24 hours covering a wide variety of topics about community management. I participated in a panel talking about change in communities in hour 20 of the day. Entitled, Change Management: Migrations, Redesigns & Upgrades, Oh My!, we talked about how change is inevitable and the best practices in dealing with negative comments, how to communicate the change, not-so-popular decisions by upper management, technical breakdowns, and more. I was in good company with many veterans in the industry representing a wide variety of communities in many sectors; Allison Carney, Patrick Cleary, Scott Moore, Lauri Travis, and host, Jenn Emerson. I provided the perspective from migrating corporate websites owned by a corporate communications team. A complaint is a gift One of my favourite takeaways from our discussion was a quote from Scott Moore who said that “A complaint is a gift”. While no one wishes to receive any complaints or negative comments, they do provide valuable learnings that can improve your product/community/whathaveyou. I believe it was Allison Carney who shared her experiences with this. Your organization can benefit from both positive and negative comments. If it weren’t for some unexpected negative feedback that I’ve received for Stuttering is Cool, I wouldn’t have come up with an idea for an awareness campaign that generated a lot of reach on Twitter, Facebook, and even Tumblr! Which, in turn, generated a lot of new insight from audience comments (all positive). You are the member advocate Another favourite take away came from a discussion about how the community...

Content lessons from the Corner Gas Movie

I’m a huge fan of Corner Gas who watches his DVDs over and over. I’m not usually a fan of tv shows being turned into movies but couldn’t pass up the chance to watch the Corner Gas movie. Maybe it will turn out right? Thankfully, it did! I can sum up Corner Gas: The Movie as an unconventional movie experience. And it was refreshing. Because something unique was done. A few unique things, actually. And that’s what can make your content stand out, no matter the medium or format. 1. A very short theatre run It was only in theatres for 5 days in select theatres. At first I thought this was a little strange. Why go to all that production trouble just for a week of showings? Then I pondered if it had anything to do with budget or perhaps Canadian movies having a hard time competing with American ones. Or maybe there was a positive reason? Read on… 2. Quick DVD release The DVD is set to release the week after as will digital downloads. 3. 20 minute warm up before the movie started Instead of sitting through 20 minutes or more of commercials for movies, cell phones, bank services, and cars I’m not in the market to buy, Brent Butt treated us to his comedy, really funny Corner Gas trivia games (many in the theatre including myself laughed out loud), bloopers and even a section where he asked the audience to snap photos and tag with #CornerGasMovie for a Selfies For Swag contest. The latter was genius. It was cool to see photos of my fellow Corner Gas...

14 of my podcasting best practices

Podcasting seems to be popular again. I don’t know if it ever wasn’t popular but it seems like more and more marketers are talking about it. I’ve been podcasting since 2006, with my longest running show, Stuttering is Cool, still going strong. So, I thought I’d share my audio podcasting best practices. In no particular order… 1. Content is still, and always has been, king Just like blogging, choose a topic you’re passionate in and run with it. Just like blogging, it’s no use to wonder if anyone would listen to what you have to say. Give it a try and see where your show goes. But you must offer something of quality. And like blogging, it can be about your day, your favourite movies, the line of work your in, or… well, like I said, whatever you’re passionate in! 2. Audio podcasting is the most intimate medium Years ago I’ve had the pleasure of attending a podcasting workshop by Tod Maffin who worked in radio. He mentioned how the headphone, or ear bud, is physically right next to us. Touching our ears. Video can’t do that. Blogs can’t do that. Hence why Tod also advised that in you shouldn’t address your audience in the plural form in your shows. For example, instead of saying “Hello everybody!”, you should instead address it as if you were speaking to one person. “Hello! I hope you are doing well”. Or something to that nature. Instead of “I’d love to receive feedback from everyone”, you should say “I’d like to hear from you”. Why? Podcasting is not traditional radio that is one-way. Just like blogging,...

NASA’s cool ABC’s of Orion

Photo credit: NASA How do you engage an audience on the many complexities of designing a spacecraft to send people to outer space? With infographics, of course! And not those wordy ones. The pictogram kind. Coinciding with upcoming test flight of the Orion spacecraft on December 4, 2014, @NASASocial tweeted a pictogram for each letter of the alphabet corresponding to a feature of the new vehicle every ten minutes. #Orion from A to Z: A is for Apogee. Apogee is the point in an elliptical orbit when farthest from Earth pic.twitter.com/L3q8TB1mj3 — NASA Social (@NASASocial) November 29, 2014 #Orion from A to Z: B is for Beyond: Orion is designed for deep space missions to go beyond Earth’s orbit pic.twitter.com/OUlJNDQqjr — NASA Social (@NASASocial) November 29, 2014 #Orion from A to Z: C is for Crew Module: a home for our astronauts on board with living space & supply storage pic.twitter.com/X8Yl133aZj — NASA Social (@NASASocial) November 29, 2014 And what beautiful, simple graphics they are! I especially like the tag cloud like collage at the top. Graphics like these are always great way to quickly and simply illustrate the many fascinating details about a concept. In this case, something completely outside of everyday life. NASA’s Orion spacecraft is designed to take humans farther out in space including Mars and asteroids. It will also sustain the crew during the travel, and be used to return to Earth. Just like during the Apollo missions in the 1960s! In fact, I’m wondering if their choice of using pictograms could be related to a theme of lunar landing retro? If so, I think...

Design for the user. The user isn’t you.

It is too easy to assume that whatever it is we’re about to post is earth-shattering fantastic, but that doesn’t mean our audience will think so, too. They are interacting with our websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels, or whathaveyou, to solve a problem. Be it finding a specific product for their home, information about a school course, making a donation, finding the time when a bus will arrive, whatever it is that drives a person to search or browse somewhere in your digital footprint in the first place. Thus – 1. Design for the user 2. The user isn’t you I first read these two golden rules on a blog about user experience design back in the early 2000s during my web design days (unfortunately, I can’t find the name of the blog nor link to give proper credit). These rules can be directly applied to content marketing. Actually, anything we create for online consumption. 1. Create content for the user. The user isn’t you. Like I said, it’s our job as members of the digital team (content creators, content marketers, communicators, etc.) to make it easy for our users to solve their problems. We need to simply ask ourselves, “Will our users find this fantastic earth-shattering thing useful?”. And answer it through the eyes of the members of your personas/target audience. For instance, when I worked at a hospital for kids with disabilities, I’d ask myself “how would this piece of content [a photo, a link to a page on our website, the wording of a tweet] help me if I were a parent with a child with...

My comic strip campaign for stuttering awareness

International Stuttering Awareness Day takes place every year on October 22. I like to plan an awareness campaign each time. In the past I’ve created audio podcasts, special Google+ Hangouts throughout the day, blog posts, and tweeting stuttering fun facts mixed in with a few silly, made up ones for engagement. This year, I decided on creating a series of comic strips. I chose a few common stuttering misconceptions and added a one-panel comic strip to them. I wanted to use humour (my speciality) to politely inform and educate. The strip above is my favourite of the bunch. I posted the rest of my comics below. Since my goal is to spread awareness, I designed the graphics to be viewable and shareable on social media networks. And since there’s a lot of noise on social networks these days, I opted for a minimal and straight-to-the-point design. I also created one for the kids! Of course, they aren’t really on social media but this would be more of an offline campaign or B2B (speech language pathologists, schools, etc.) of sorts. The cartoon fox is Franky Banky who is the protagonist in my illustrative self-help book for my fellow people who stutter. So yes, my other goal is to spread brand awareness (hence the brought-to-you copy at the bottom). The International Stuttering Association hosts an online conference every year in October leading up to International Stuttering Awareness Day. Head on over to isad.isastutter.org if you’d like to learn more about stuttering and what it’s like to live with stuttering. You can also check out my podcast, Stuttering is Cool...

Crowdfunding is my latest adventure

Slight excerpt from the book I’ll be crowdfunding Crowdfunding is my latest learning adventure. Joining forces with my friend, Jean-François Leblanc, who lives in Quebec City, we will learn this exciting new field first hand — in not only raising funds, but also ongoing engagement with a community in a slightly different environment from the usual social media for a brand. Soon, Jean-François and I will be crowdfunding to produce a French translation of my book, “Stuttering is Cool: A Guide to Stuttering in a Fast-Talking World” which I self-published at the end of 2013. Jean-François and I met through my podcast of the same name, then in a Stutter Social hangout and in person at the National Stuttering Association conference in 2012. Along with about 200 of our fellow stutterers in the community, we’ve been friends ever since. Two audiences, different languages Since our target audience will be the francophone stuttering and speech language pathologist communities, we will be running what is somewhat a bilingual campaign. One of the best practices for running a successful crowdfunding campaign is to first tap into your existing network of friends, family, associates, etc. Both Jean-François and I are active in the English speaking stuttering community but would they be interested in funding a version of my book written in a language which most of them do not understand? Fortunately, Jean-François also hangs out in the francophone stuttering community where the wishes of a French version of my book emerged. He will be helping me connect with our online francophone audience. Thus, our campaign will naturally be in French. However, we shouldn’t...