The Power of Connected Storytelling

Paul Beck presents Storybooth, an innovative and groundbreaking digital video platform that uses the medium of cartoon to tell tweens’ and teens’ personal stories of challenge, heartbreak, trauma, and more, in their own words and voices. Considering how people behave in relation to technology and content, Storybooth’s builders have uniquely solved a question perhaps nobody knew to ask: how to let our youth, who face incredible external pressures, to share their most intimate struggles in a way that connects but also maintains their safety and privacy. Having reached more than a billion views already, it’s clear that Storybooth tapped into a real social need in a compelling, disruptive way.

three people just three years ago May of 2016 had an idea and by the end of that year that idea had generated 1.3 billion followers or clicks in the form of website viewers and more than 1.9 million subscribers it is all about the power of story and stories told by and for our young people please welcome to the stage Paul Beck of story booth Oh Thank You Tyler morning good morning everyone I'm honored to be here and I've been charged with kicking this off and just understand that I am the human version of caffeine so if you haven't had any coffee don't worry about it I'm going to take care of it for you I have a lot of stuff to cover I'm gonna talk quickly but I'm gonna try to inspire you first of all my name is Paul Beck and admittedly I'm a geek a marketer been
doing it for 25 years a chief marketing officer digital is my space the three areas that I really like to focus on are humans and human nature how humans behave with technology and ultimately with content so you can see how humans use technology to connect with content I've been doing that for years I've worked for many agencies one of which was my favorite if you know mine I'm gonna be walking around here to see you all I work for Ogilvy and during that time I got to work on some amazing campaigns I'm very proud of all with a narrative bent to them many of you might be familiar with the Dove campaign for real beauty or the American Express my life my card IBM's smarter planet or last is the Cisco human Network and did a lot of work there did a lot of technical work there LED digital for them and then in about 2005 I met two individuals a couple Marcy and Josh sign al they were there at Ogilvy helping me to understand for my clients what it is
that they were really interested in the words they were using in in forums where a lot of people tend to spend time right now we use all that stuff within social media right but before it back then there wasn't really there wasn't an Instagram and actually back then Facebook it was just beginning so Marcy and Josh are skilled in early stage people in the AOL days of forums helping people to manage forums helping people to understand how communities could exist safely and you've seen it all now how many times you've gone on to a forum and some troll comes in and starts saying negative things where can you create a safe space for all this to happen one of the things as we got to know each other was we realized that we had one thing in common as a lot of experience with children and collectively we worked on a lot of great brands and we also happen to have a couple of kids I got three they got two all tweens and teens and we thought wouldn't it be great if we could take all this experience that we have all the brands we've worked on all the skills we have create a business that was powerful and in doing so leave the world in a better place
skip ahead to 2008 Marcy and Josh and I had gone through a bunch of different thoughts and ideas couldn't quite get something exactly where we thought it would be and I had the unique opportunity to meet this man his name is Chris mallet Andre you may know him because he's the creator of the minions he's the founder CEO of illumination entertainment and he said something that changed my life and I had the opportunity to work with him he said an audience connects to a character when they can see themselves as someone they know in the performance what we learn about storytelling is it's all about the story the story is actually secondary to the person who's telling it let me use his words to explain it a little bit better than I can for us the heart of what determines our commitment to a movie is really the story of the characters and so our core focus at illumination is creating
characters characters that are appealing characters that are flawed and characters that are relatable which is maybe the most important thing characters who are going through different experiences where as an audience member you can project yourself into that characters perspective I mean think about how many times you've heard an incredibly good joke destroyed by a person who couldn't tell it or how many times you've heard a mediocre joke he'll because the person was skilled in telling it it's relating to the person who's telling the story it's as important as the story and what we've seen through marketing and businesses is quite frankly everybody wants to tell their story they have the wrong people telling it so that became a really important part to add to my sort of scientific thought process was who's going to be telling a story the punchline to this is despicable me became the highest-grossing animated
movie franchise and history with three points 3.7 billion dollars in revenue and I had a great time and shift ahead to 2015 Marcy and Josh gave me a call they said we have it like what do you have let's get on the phone well they had an observation the observation was that the world is false within social media you all can see that how many times have you been to a restaurant and you're all gonna smile now when I say this and you see people incessantly taking pictures other food why it's for the perfect cup of coffee this beautiful cup of coffee in the middle here it's just any normal cup of coffee with a funny thing in the front of it but it looks gorgeous so what have we done people say I'm so blessed they've created this false world that no one else could live up to how much fun of these people having drinking that coffee look how beautiful their bodies look look how wonderful their places are people can never live up to it what is
that doing to our children our children now are thinking that they are less than everything else right so they're completely disenfranchised and how is this helping Marcy then said well where can this true be shared the real things that happen not everything is pretty how can we do that so this is what they showed me simple idea we will get kids to record in their mobile phones everybody's got one their story their voices literally their voices they send them to us we listen to them we select stories we animate them we try to cut it down to about a three minutes story we do
hand-drawn animation which I'll show you as you saw so kind of maps to the imperfection of how these stories are being told we engage in comments why because Marcy and Josh built their entire careers around where comments happen in conversations happen next we're going to celebrate those storytellers ultimately and the last part of is we're going to use science in the distribution which I'm going to talk about and this is all about artificial intelligence and algorithms so story booth was launched in March of 2016 and what you're seeing on the screen here on the left is the YouTube channel on the right is the website to the right of that is the mobile app and below that is an Instagram page so this is what we call our digital platform we have a couple of other things as well but this is the primary area where all this stuff lives our goal here was to try to be very simple with what we're doing number one meet people where they are and number two leave them better off
than where they were why because the reality is kids want to talk about things that they are experiencing embarrassing topics like embarrassing period stories which by the way we have 10,000 of those submitted to us believe it or not being bullied being abused being betrayed by friends having teachers that lie about them these are all real topics of real stories I just screen captured this actually this morning and then something amazing happened it took off and I'm not going to go into these until in a couple of slides but these are these are hundreds of millions of views and this is actually per month and subscribers per month so I'll go into this into bed what we ended up with was the world's largest database of young people speaking in natural language about the things they facing they needed to come somewhere and tell their story where they felt it was safe that they wouldn't be ridiculed and
that they could find other people who had a similar experience somebody else had been abused somebody else had been bullied somebody else was trying to be an athlete just because everybody else was but didn't want one let's look at one of the stories that's in the database so you can get a full idea now this story is a topic that is very common now in fact the CEO of Amazon is involved in this particular topic so you can guess what it's about and this is one of the things that particularly a middle schoolers and high schoolers face all the time this is someone's personal experience it's her boys it's on it's unfiltered and we just animated overtop of it we started talking like late at night and stuff and he would ask me how my day was and what I did you'd ask me how I'm feeling and stuff like that he'd be super nice one day he asked me for
nudes and I said no but he kept begging me and I was like maybe a shiny talked myself out of it but then I was feeling like I don't know what to do and we had this thing and it was play pulled the loser has to send news and I said how about something other than nudes he said alright booty pics and I said fine so we played and I lost so I had to send him some pictures and he liked them he was like ooh sexy hot and stuff later then he asked me for news again I said no when I was on the phone with my friend she was like what are you gonna do and he sent me a picture and she was like wait no he didn't and I said yeah and I showed my friend and I was like I don't know what to do he's asking me for picture still and I was like fine so I sent him the picture
my brother and then he was like take the bra so I did and I put my hands over my boobs and he said send it without your hands and I put emojis and then he was like take emojis off and I was like fine I did and he was like ooh la la I'll grab your butt and stuff at school if you keep sending them to me and I was like you know what I want to go to bed good night a month later my mom found out that he sent me that because my friends are talking about it in the car and she heard it so then we had to talk about it with my therapist she was like did you send him back and I was like no because they kept lying cuz I was like I don't wants you but then my mom threatened to take it up with the school district and like tell on him and say this is child pornography you better look up his picture and say like oh he did Sunday and like he should get punished for it and I was like mom you can't do that and she was like why did you send it back and I was like if I did would you be mad and she said no and I
started crying and I poured down tears and I told her the truth that I did and she just hugged me and she said look it's gonna be all right but you know you can't do that again and I got grounded for a long time and I never did anything like that again because the feeling of thinking that someone might find out and ruin your life sucks so that video as of this morning has 21 point seven million views and more importantly 37,500 comments so they're talking about this in a safe place nobody makes fun of her how she looks she's a cartoon who's gonna make fun of a cartoon so her story is real she's sharing it and in other kids are learning from it so the question is scale is an issue you
know 21 million I can't even comprehend right so when we put things in context anybody here Wolverine go blue proud father daughter graduated early this year and you're looking at the Wolverines Stadium which holds 107 thousand people this is what a hundred and seven thousand people looks like it would take two stadiums to fill the number of stories we've received so two hundred and fifteen thousand kids so far have taken the time to tell us a story you can imagine what's in those stories it's absolutely astounding so here's the punchline we've produced a hundred and fifty over three year period stories we've reached a hunt 1.3 billion views on those stories we have 3.8 million subscribers over 30 million comments and I'll explain how important that is it a bit and we have this compounded growth rate which is those two tracks I showed
you guys earlier that's all based on compounding somewhere between a four and A seven percent growth rig week over week in 2019 this year we should be getting to 2.2 billion views which is my calculations are right six million subscribers and 60% of our views should be outside the US and again this is what that compounded growth rate looks like so this is what's interesting is every single one of our views averages eight and a half million views this is Tuesday's video from last week it already have it'll have three million views by the time I'm probably done with this so this is a simple story from someone in Canada who's who is homeless with her with her dad and what her life was like I mean kids how you be homeless this is a kid talking about that so kids learn to have compassion and empathy and the comments below are absolutely beautiful so again not a single one of our videos is viral that's what everybody hears about I'm not interested in viral because how do you follow up a
viral video it's like seeing an amazing artist music artist hit a huge album and then the follow up is a flop I would rather just be consistent and persistent if you look at the numbers the top video we just watched is 21 million views then it's 18 then it's 16 then it's 15 then it's 14 this goes all the way through and none of our videos are under 2 million boos again including the one from this past Tuesday and you're probably gonna ask so how much did you spend on advertising to get all this stuff going we didn't spend a single dollar on advertising this is all organic all science all understanding your audience who the characters are telling the stories relating to it putting the signs out there so let's take a quick look under the hood there we go what we do every day is we collect the stories into the database through the the app we listen and we categorize them as to what they're all about we select which stories you want to produce on a whole series of criteria then we edit
them we animate them we publish them we optimize and we analyze and then we engage but the heck toises word engage me well what we do is each in each video we have the opportunity to ask a question that's contextually relevant as an example this particular one this story is about a boy from England whose stepfather used to beat him and self-esteem went so low that he would get bullied at schools he was literally getting beat up in at school and at home sad story but he turned it around and his life became wonderful so in the top there if you look at the left-hand side on the top it asks the question is it ever okay for a parent to hit their child look to the number on the right we have 795 thousand responses to that question and how you get the answers are at the bottom this is how it works so in video we can ask questions we can engage they want to be heard they want a voice the second thing we do is in the community we ask questions have you ever been bullied into what degree and then
we published and we share it back the next thing we do as an Instagram which is another platform that you guys are quite familiar with we tease we send up a storyboard take a guess with the stories about we post it and then which you see in the collar boxes are their wisdom these are statements that kids made that we're sharing with the world that are wise but the world should hear about these are their voices being heard I won't go into this in detail it's an eye chart but suffice to say we had to create a pretty rigid system to be able to accomplish this and I won't go through our game day because it's a lot of stuff to review but we do all these things which Disney doesn't do Nickelodeon doesn't do nobody else does when we long so what have we learned and I'm gonna read these if you don't mind our business could not exist without this art and science framework we spoke about listening to the stories is really hard because most of the stories are heart wrenching they're kids wanting to talk about their pain of some sort embarrassment pain distrust disloyalty all these things
that they're facing every day they just want to know that they're not alone be mindful when connecting with an audience trust the audience wisdom exists so deeply in this young audience people just overlook it they want to tell the story kids want to be heard they're hungry for an outlet and the level of responsibility of a media company is astounding we owe it to these kids to protect them which is what we do through Coppa regulations and everything else and last but not least is where are we going well first and foremost since we blew up as we did we have to continue to scale our production because we have two hundred fifteen thousand stories and only a hundred and fifty videos we got to produce more for God's sakes we got to scale globally which includes in language new mediums including podcasts we're going to skip to Instagram brand and organizational sponsorships and partnerships so we can expand celebrity collaborations which we've already started with we have a bunch teed up right now we're gonna build out our
research platform continue to evolve artificial intelligence and our insights platform which is how we actually find all the story ideas and the last is investment for expansion because what we have is a problem we got two hundred fifteen thousand stories 1.3 billion views and 3.6 million of an audience who want more so we've got to give them more thank you very much [Applause] [Music]