When ABC began broadcasting the NCAA football games in the 60’s, the footage was quite different than it is today. In the early years, ABC would broadcast the field with the plays as they were happening. You might not necessarily think about it, but that type of broadcast makes it difficult for a person, say in New York, to care about the UT vs. Texas A&M game. So, what’s different today? Consider the shots of the bonfire in College Station, Bevo out on the field and the screaming fans with their bodies painted to match the colors of their school. Context for the city and the personalities at the game have helped people become engaged in games that they otherwise wouldn’t have cared about. The 29 year old who came up with this idea of showing context also developed ABC’s Wide World of Sports and numerous other highly successful shows.
Context is also one of the benefits of social networks. We meet people casually at conferences or for a meeting and are able to get a general feeling about them. But then, when we connect on Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter, we are able to find the context in which those people live their lives, and that helps us develop an interest in them. Through these sites, we are able to find more ways to connect with each other, professionally and socially, noticing a love of similar sports, that we read the same books, or maybe that we went to the same school. Providing context is important in the sale of products and services as well. These are the stories that we share to make our offer compelling and meaningful.