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  • Writer's picturePhillip Ratliff

GPS-triggered audio stories that your public will love

Updated: May 22, 2020

Thanks to GPS-triggered mobile apps, the future of audio interpretation is here.

That’s not hyperbole. Because it is so intuitively linked to the functions of your smartphone, the GPS-triggered audio story concept has real staying power. There are no QR codes to scan, no numbers to dial — just hands-free, audio stories delivered when and where you want it.

Think of the possibilities. Maybe your goal is to describe your trail system’s flora and fauna to hikers. Maybe it’s to provide first-time hunters with tips on safe and effective sporting in your wildlife management area. Or maybe it’s to point out the architectural marvels along your city’s downtown heritage trail. Today's mobile tour platforms deliver such content intuitively and precisely, with no user-end fumbling.

If you know what you’re doing, back-end production is clunk-free, too. To produce content that hits the mark, Backstory’s audio team follows a few simple principles.

Here’s how you can apply these principles to your story design:

Chose a mobile app platform with precise geo-tagging. It’s critical to make sure that content appears when and where it’s supposed to. An architectural history of a vintage skyscraper is only fully appreciated when the app user is looking at that skyscraper.

Interpret what’s there, what’s interesting, and what listeners are naturally curious about. This is a basic of interpretation. Answer the most salient “WWWWWH” questions. Who worked in those old mine shafts? What are some of the great hunting stories associated with this WMA? If you’re unsure what those questions are, use an image to crowdsource.

Take care of the basics. If you know that most of your WMA visitors have questions about licenses, road and gate closures, and type of allowed hunting, get to those questions right away.

Pace the story to your mode of travel. Are mobile app users walking? Cycling? Driving? Standing? Sitting in a parked car? The distance covered in two to four minutes might be four miles, or a few meters, as 65 miles per hour, or at a snail’s pace. Carefully consider the scope of your story.

Surprise your audience. Seasoned sportsman might hunt because of family legacy, whereas new hunters might be drawn to a new hobby the conservation efforts hunting supports. Reach across the aisle. Tell stories from both points of view.

Reinforce your marketing. If you advertise your audio tour’s insights into Red Mountain mining history, echo that language in your actual tour. Deliver the goods. People like it when you follow through on your promises.

Use friendly docenting techniques. The best docents use directionals (left, right, north, south) to orient listeners. They draw attention to important objects and views and reference landmarks to make sure everyone is looking at the same thing. It’s important to not leave your listeners wondering where to look and what you’re talking about.

Onboard listeners with signage and collaterals. You’ve got to persuade potential users to download the platform and open up your audio tour. Word of mouth goes a long way, but it doesn’t go all the way. A sign or collateral with straightforward instructions and a call to action will help get the ball rolling.

Be authentic. Because it’s your audio content, you have an opportunity to bring in authoritative voices. Those hunting tips could be conveyed by a master sportsman, the architectural critiques by a local historian, the hiking trail interpretation by your park system’s most popular naturalist. Canned content make listeners cringe. Real voices help them to relax and feel at home.

We like to think we’ve mastered all of the above, but you tell us. To hear a Backstory audio story production, click here.

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