What Role Do You Give Your Audience?

What Role Do You Give Your Audience?

What Role Do You Give Your Audience?

What Role Do You Give Your Audience? 366 222 Shlomi Ron

What role do you typically give your audience?

We often treat our audience as that faceless mass and end up “casting” them with the typical passive consumer role.

Engage and convert!

What if there are other roles you could assign your audience as part of your ongoing visual storytelling strategy?

The risk with a passive transactional role-only means that you’re likely settling for low stakes game for your customer. In today’s overcrowded and fragmented media landscape, there are million other channels that compete for your audience’s scarce and finite attention.

Any competitor with a a bit shinier, cheaper or trendier product can easily lure your audience away.

Howard Rheingold aptly says it: “Attention is a limited resource, so pay attention to where you pay attention.”

The classic model of giving your audience the passive role in your stories is quickly eroding as brands realize that people look for meaningful stories with characters that look like them and experience their problems to even start to care. And these days, we see even new roles emerging.

What are the common models we see today?

What role do you give your audience? (source: GIPHY)

Here is a rough breakdown of roles from passive to active:

1) Consumer: Passive audience that pays attention to your stories and polls in views, likes, shares, votes, comments and DMs.

2) Creator: You’ll find this type of audience every time a brand decides to run a user generated content (aka UGC) campaign and task the audience with contributing visuals anchored on a specific theme and hashtag. See GoPro, and airbnb.

3) Evangelist: Traditionally, evangelists/brand ambassadors/influencers are basically all titles brands give to audience members that have reached the last stage in the buyer’s journey – Loyalty. These are the happiest customers that are compensated with special perks to drive the word out on behalf of the brand.

4) Partner: With the advent of crowdfunding platforms, smart brands and media organizations have started to use crowdfunding not as a limited time campaign, but as an ongoing mechanism to recruit their audience to contribute financially and have an active role in curating ongoing content with deeper interaction levels.

Two blockchain membership types (updated February 20, 2022):

5a) Social Token Holder: Brand or creator introduce a branded social token to audience members. They buy the token in exchange of access to exclusive content, event tickets, merchandize and more. It’s still a centralized structure where the creator drives the content and incentive strategy. The business logic is the higher activity, the higher value the token will generate to the creator and members. You can see it in action at Rally.io – a social token platform.

5b) DAO Member: The metaverse surge has recently introduced DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) where brands and creators form communities powered by the rules documented in a smart contract on the blockchain. Members buys a crypto currency to join that allows them to vote on actions in support of the brand mission. Popular DAO creation platforms: Aragon or Syndicate.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to migrate all your audience tomorrow to serve only in one type of role.

My purpose is just to illustrate the evolution of the different types of roles and how you can integrate them into different parts of your buyer’s journey when you plan your visual storytelling strategy.

It’s all part of creating a healthy Inclusive Storytelling approach that is based on humanizing your audience; from a faceless mass into real people with real stories, passions, challenges and aspirations.

In short, you need to rethink the traditional audience role and explore other roles that can allow them to shape their experience and in the process become more vested in your brand long-term.


You naturally discover how your solution fits into their life stories after conducting a comprehensive research to build real-life buyer personas. You can’t skip this step.

What roles do you give your audience in your visual stories? Drop your comments below.

Need help in a particular aspect of your visual storytelling strategy? Book a FREE conversation to learn more about our consulting programs.

Shlomi Ron

Shlomi Ron is the founder and CEO of the Visual Storytelling Institute, a Miami-based think tank with a mission to bring the gospel of visual storytelling from the world of art to more human-centric and purpose-driven marketing. A digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience working both on the agency and brand sides for Fortune 100/500 brands such as Nokia, IBM, and American Express. He started VSI to combine his marketing expertise with his passion for visual stories stemming from his interests in classic Italian cinema and managing the estate of video art pioneer, Buky Schwartz. At VSI, he helps brands rise above the communication noise through visual storytelling consulting, training, and thought leadership. Select clients include Estée Lauder, Microsoft, and Cable & Wireless – to name a few. He currently teaches Brand Storytelling at the University of Miami’s Business School. Thought leader and speaker at key marketing conferences. He is also the host of the Visual Storytelling Today podcast, which ranks in the top 10 best business storytelling podcasts on the Web. His book: Total Acuity: Tales with Marketing Morals to Help You Create Richer Visual Brand Stories. Outside work, he is a nascent bread baker, The Moth fan, and longtime fedora wearer likely to jive with his classic Italian cinema interest.

All stories by: Shlomi Ron
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