Storytelling has fast become one of those industry buzzwords everyone is using but is it about to be usurped by more sensory-based content such as slime poking and ASMR? In this guest post, Bohemia head of content Jacqui Capel investigates…
Brands don’t make content anymore: they are ‘storytellers’. And for marketers playing in this space, there are long-established guidelines to follow. To be a storyteller, you need a story arc – a beginning, middle and end – and it pays to have some humour or a strong point of view.
But like all good industry trends, storytelling is about to be knocked off its perch with a rise in popularity of content that appeals to the way people feel rather than what they think. Spend some time on YouTube and you’re likely to come across two trends that tap into this: ASMR and slime poking.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s that tingly scalp feeling you get when watching or listening to something super relaxing. YouTube is full of videos of people with a slight accent or lisp pretending to cut your hair, give you a facial, tuck you into bed, teach you origami and so on, in order to create this tingly feeling. These 30-minute long videos can attract millions of views or more but often they are even longer. One air hostess themed video that goes for a full eight hours has one million views.
And then there’s slime poking – the Gen Z standard for sensory media. The genre is driven by teens making their own creative slime concoctions at home and then filming themselves squashing and poking the slime generating satisfying, squishy sounds. They ask fans for feedback on the colour, texture and noises of their creations, even down to what table surface viewers prefer to see the slime displayed on. The top influencers in this space are making thousands of dollars selling the slimes to fans, with a whole convention industry springing up around eagerness to meet the big ‘slimers’ in person. For example, @snoopslimes has two million Instagram followers and a huge online store. Reviews on YouTube of her slimes garner millions of views each. She is 16 years old.
The appeal of these videos seems to transcend age, gender and geography and flip conventional content-making standards on their head. While so much of today’s content strives to be short and ‘snackable’, a quick moment to cut-through in an endless feed of information, ASMR proves people want long-form content also. But there’s more to it than simply length of content.
Considering the pace and volume of media consumption, the shrill and frantic tone of much of our news and cultural conversation and the rise of quick, scroll-past content, these videos are successful because they provide a long, deep breath for consumers, a moment of pure sensory delight where they have permission to switch from ‘think’ to ‘feel’. Given one in seven Australians suffer from an anxiety disorder, there’s little surprise they are seeking refuge in comforting content and there’s certainly something about this type of media that taps a need for slow, soothing, viscerally satisfying moments.
While storytelling isn’t going to entirely fall by the wayside, there is an interesting opportunity to reimagine moments of sensory delight in the digital space. Creative brands are starting to dive in – there have been several notable ASMR content executions globally, including Ikea USA’s ‘Oddly Ikea’, a softly spoken guide to creating the perfect college dorm room.
Harley Davidson’s meditation track is another great example.
In the UK, KFC has launched a website called KFChill, “devoted to the relaxing sounds of frying chicken, sizzling bacon, and simmering gravy”.
These executions mostly sit in the category of a content stunt, and, as such, garnered their fair share of earned media. But there are more long term applications for brands, particularly those that offer similar benefits through their product to those that sensory content can provide.
Ultimately, the trend urges us to question how content makes people feel, not just the information it’s providing. In a landscape of clutter and confusion, rethinking the way we make space to connect could provide the cut through you are seeking.