January 6, 2020

SIGMUND TALKS becomes Storyliner: why a chat interface did not work for us

SIGMUND TALKS becomes Storyliner: why a chat interface did not work for us
Every new product starts with an idea. That's how we, too, began at the end of 2017. At that time, we were developing digital solutions for our customers. We wondered why no tool could help us to create content for marketing. There was software for management, analysis, or team collaboration. But none that would help us define what to write or how to formulate it.

In the future, artificial intelligence will support people in their creativity and enhance their abilities

After a long search and several interviews, we decided to develop a solution ourselves. We then declared our Innovation Day. Every Friday, we worked on our own solution. In the beginning, we tried to understand the problem. Why is it so difficult for many people to create good content for corporate communications at a reasonable time?

The problem: the blank sheet of paper

Content for corporate communication is special. It must entertain, inform, sell. Therefore, different disciplines have developed among professionals: Copywriters, bloggers, SEO writers, UX writers, press and PR copywriters, and content marketers.

Many entrepreneurs, marketers, or communication teams must (budget) or want (strategy) to create their content in-house. Due to the dramatic changes in media consumption in recent years, the reality is usually like this: Today, you have to create a blog article, tomorrow an event invitation, and next Friday, the press release is due. Meanwhile, you have to fill social media channels while carrying out the daily business. Besides this consumption of a large amount of content in an ever shorter time, the way many companies and organizations produce content has not adapted.

Every idea, every creative concept today, still starts on a blank sheet of paper. So, every time, it has to be planned, conceptualized, researched, written, and optimized anew.

The idea: the digital assistant

Our user research has shown that many tools are used in content creation: Text editors, note apps, text analysis tools or Pinterest, Google, and YouTube for research and inspiration. Thus, a separate tool is used for each phase of the creation process and often edited separately. However, those who create content professionally do not separate these phases. For example, the strategy (communication guidelines, goals, topics...) influences each piece of content. We wanted to link the individual stages together to improve, inspire, and (partially) automate the content creation process. So, the idea of the assistant was born.

Our assistant had a chat interface. So, you could write short text messages with a computer program. With this, we covered the idea and concept phase. Instead of starting on a blank piece of paper, you talked to the Sigmund chatbot and filled out your creative briefing. Based on the information, your strategy, and external data sources, we then generated a structured and partially pre-formulated blog article, for example. The result you could then finish and publish.

SIGMUND TALKS workflow

The first user tests were promising and motivated us to pursue the idea.

Why a chat interface did not work for us

In October 2018, we were named Content Start-up of the Year for our concept at the Frankfurt Book Fair by the CONTENTshift program. That was when we decided to pursue the idea full-time with all our resources. We could convince the Next Media Accelerator and implement our plan in January 2019.

In the beginning, the chat worked well. You had to answer six or seven questions via chat, and then you got a finished concept with partly generated texts and pictures. With increasing functionality, the conversational interface proved to be an ever-greater challenge. The advantages of chat interfaces are manifold. Firstly, you use natural language to talk to a computer. It is, therefore, easy to use, and you don't have to learn a new interface. Everyone is familiar with messengers like WhatsApp nowadays. On the other hand, we could personalize the briefings to each user.

However, in our case, the disadvantages had outweighed time. The multi-stage creation process turned out to be too complicated for us to depict it into a chat interface. "Navigating" in the app was too inflexible. Users were too impatient, and after about 2-3 minutes (!) of conversation, they no longer had the desire or attention to interact with the chat. If you compare it to the time (several hours) it takes to create content, the chat interface just couldn't keep up and convince.

From digital assistant to the creative platform

In September last year, we went through a substantial restructuring period and also looked for alternative solutions without a chat interface. We redesigned the product and developed a step-by-step process that accompanies you flexibly along your content creation process. The comparison tests to the chat were surprisingly positive, and the dwell time per user and the number of generated contents increased significantly. So the decision was clear: we had to remove the chat interface.

After our brand was tailored to the chatbot Sigmund, the logical consequence was to say goodbye to Sigmund and the product name. From now on, SIGMUND TALKS becomes the creative platform Storyliner.

With a new interface and changed functionality, we now accompany you in an artificial intelligence-backed creation process with inspiration, tips, and recommendations, as well as constant feedback on your content quality. Our goal is to empower you with technology to create professional-quality content at a fraction of the usual costs.

Next steps

In the upcoming weeks, we will work intensively on further developing the creative platform. If you want to test Storyliner, register for a test account. If you have your own formats or ideas that you want to realize with our technology, please contact us for a pilot project.

Finally, we would like to thank all previous test users, partners, mentors, and pilot customers for their time, feedback, patience, and support on our mission to enhance human creativity with technology.

Do you want to create compelling content? .

Michael Schmitt

Michael Schmitt

Michael is the founder of Storyliner. With a background in marketing and engineering, he is on a mission to enhance human creativity through technology so that everyone can create compelling content.

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