Framing: the Science behind Content Marketing

Frame Analysis is a technique used for analysing and understanding the narratives and contexts in complex media data, and was developed by and for professionals who understand that subtle bias and reframing of a story can have a massive impact on public opinion. 

In simple terms, a frame is the impression formed in people's minds when they think about some brand or issue. A negative frame can be very hard to turn around. But frames are much more nuanced than simple positive or negative sentiment. They can assert the 'well known' strengths and weaknesses of the subject, the 'expected' attributes, and are often painted with a strong emotional palette. Some frames are regarded as sacrosanct, some are tragic or hopeful, and others are repugnant.

For an advertiser, understanding the way an issue is framed is vital for designing your message, or not engaging at all with certain issues. Neglect of framing has led to famous social media disasters for advertisers. Reframing an issue or a brand is a key outcome in PR, politics, media, and advertising

The steps involved in this process are:

  1. Write down your desired frame for your product, service, brand, or issue. A list of text bullet points can work fine. Stick it on your wall.
  2. Understand the frames which are present in the various conversations on Twitter which are relevant to your topic. narratif Discover is very good for this.
  3. Create or curate content which carefully reinforces your desired frame, and publish in a conversation which is receptive and potentially sympathetic. Do not try to directly contradict a hostile conversation. narratif Place is my preferred method for finding conversations which resonate with my desired framing.

At narratif, our products have been designed from the ground up to find, collate, and report the most important frames, or stories, which surround any topic of interest, without destroying the context of these rich artefacts. As a result, it is now quite easy to view the most relevant stories and understand their context, their framing, their trajectory over time, and what they actually mean for you.

As further reading, I can really recommend the work of Daniel Kahneman(1), a Nobel Prize winning cognitive psychologist. Tversky and Kahneman’s work clearly showed that people are influenced by framing and plausible stories to a remarkable degree.

  1. Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, fast and slow. Macmillan, 2011.


Andrew E. Smith

Andrew is a co-founder and Chief Scientist of narratif and has over 15 years of experience in text analytics.