If you want to see dramatic increases in consumer engagement on social media, steal a page – or 12 – from literature.
There are 12 archetypes that power nearly every story ever written (you can find them in the image below). Take Shrek for example: two Lovers, accompanied by a Jester, battle a Sovereign. Each archetype provides the content team with a way to think about the people they are trying to attract and engage.
I’m giving you the quick version here, but if you want to learn more about archetypes and their use in marketing, check out The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes, an excellent 2001 book by Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson.
I’ve seen as much as a five-fold uptick in engagement by organizing a creative process around 3-5 archetypes that best represent the consumers you want to target on social media.
Next to each archetype above, I’ve included a few words that best characterize this type of person. For example, the Hero’s characteristics include strength, courage, stamina, faith, and competing against long odds. You don’t have to take these words too literally; they are more indicative of the values such a person embraces and finds attractive.
For best results, I suggest that you use a seven-step process:
1. Identify your audience.
2. Conduct market research to better understand your audience.
3. Identify 3-5 archetypes that best represent the audience.
4. Brainstorm “storylines”… things your consumer might say or think.
5. Create dynamic content that brings storylines together with intriguing or enticing imagery. Find ways for your audience to participate, add value, and generate excitement.
6. Test and measure response. Watch carefully to see whether certain archetypes generate more engagement. For example, are comments three times the level for one archetype than another?
7. Develop the best possible Calls to Action (CTAs).
In my headline, I cited a 5X increase in user engagement. That wasn’t just click bait. It accurately represents the increases I have seen from leveraging this process. The more closely you follow it, the more likely your brand is to see similar results.
Archetypes inject humanity into the creative process, because they make it easier for your team to focus on the basic human drives and emotions that power us all. They underlie some of the most powerful works of literature ever created, and they will add value to anything you develop for social media.
By the way, you don’t have to limit yourself to the archetypes I’ve shared here. Many talented people have created archetypes around a specific area or activity. For example, here is one of Kurt McRobert’s archetypes for New York City bike riders…