One of my first jobs out of college for a financial institution, I was tasked with developing a campaign to rollout their ATM program. (Yes, I know, I’m dating myself…but the lessons are worth it!) I had entered the advertising field as a copywriter, and was asked to write copy about how to use an ATM for inclusion in customer statements and in-branch signage. The copy never seemed to capture the experience I had when I first tried the ATM for myself – I had cash in hand in under a minute. This was a vast change from enduring long bank lines! I ditched my long, explanatory copy for a quick question … Tired of long lines?
Instead of stuffing brochures in customer statements, on long line days (Fridays and paydays), we flooded the branches with employees who invited people from the lines to complete their transaction at the ATM. Employees were trained to look for customers who were most likely to be open to it– those with simple transactions who appeared bothered by the wait (checking the time, dealing with bored kids, etc.). They were also trained not to target customers who wandered over to the free coffee and cookies, and chatted leisurely with employees (whom they knew by name). For them, the banking experience was about personal relationships, not efficiency.
In our ATM rollout, we collapsed the decision-making process of early adopters by offering them an experience during which they could: acquire knowledge, be persuaded, and make the decision to adopt ATM use. The process we applied to the campaign mimicked Diffusion of Innovations Theory (popularized by Everett Rogers in 1962) that recognizes the key role our social system plays in adopting a new idea, behavior or product; and targets early adopters who will likely share this new innovation with their social circles.
From this brief experience, I learned some valuable lessons that are still relevant to social media storytelling today:
1) Before you tell stories…listen. This helps you discern who the early adopters are likely to be, and provides you with insights on how to be relevant to them.
2) Create experiences. In this way, you’re equipping your early adopters with material to build and share their own authentic stories.
3) Don’t undertake traditional approaches simply because you’ve been tasked with an assignment. Innovation can start with you.
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