The Secret to Digital Storytelling: Make Them Care
“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.
Rudyard Kipling, a novelist and poet, once wrote this.
If you applied that rule to your business’ branding and marketing, do you think you’d be able to make yourself more memorable.
We think so. Never underestimate the power of a meaningful story and an effective storyteller.
They can draw you in, keep you engaged and make you want to come back for more.
Sounds a little like this content marketing thing we keep rambling on about.
How Can One Become a Better Storyteller?
We start telling stories as soon as we learn to string a sentence together. Some true. Some made up. Some memorable. Some not-so-much.
The difference between a good story and a bad story? Gather round, boys and girls.
That’s what it all boils down to.
Don’t disrespect your readers. Don’t tell them a story they can’t – or won’t – get invested in.
If you grew up to become a real-life storyteller (like, one that gets paid for it), it’s your duty to provide meaningful narratives that win hearts and minds.
Every Organisation has a Story to Tell
Whatever the business size – from a one-man garage set-up all the way to Google – there’s a story to tell.
Since advertising went from interrupting our day to interacting with us using two-way channels, consumers are more keen to hear from the best storytellers.
Part of Donald Trump’s victory was down to his understanding of this. He told a story that resonated with his listeners;
Make America Great Again.
The industry’s best digital storytelling is able to cover up the fact that we’re being marketed to. Some brands do that phenomenally well.
We couldn’t write this post without a mention for Red Bull.
By exposing us to extreme sports and amazing achievements from talented teams and individuals, we forget that they’re trying to sell us an energy drink.
But we’d never forget the name. Or the fact that they absolutely dominate their industry.
Sainsbury’s, UK supermarket chain won the annual battle between supermarkets for the best Christmas ad in 2014.
With this moving true story of soldiers that put their differences aside on Christmas Day, 1914, to come together and play football, the nation sat up and paid attention.
It is the authenticity and emotion that makes these stories work.
The product isn’t the hero. People are.
They take our minds on a journey and leave us feeling something we didn’t feel before we watched it.
And that, is the secret to a good story.
How Can We Apply This to Digital Storytelling?
So much modern-day marketing is fractured and soulless.
Why are brands still setting the bar so low and trying to get by on the bare minimum when it comes to their content?
When there are explosive case studies like those in the videos above, how do you expect to even make a splash unless you’re doing something great?
Or, at the very least, something different.
Before you begin thinking about where you’ll plaster your marketing and how you’re going to strategise, focus on your two primary concerns;
- Being a good storyteller
- Making people care
It’s by following these two simple rules that you give yourself the best chance of prompting a positive response from your audience.
Tell Your Story with Data
You know you need to gather data to grasp the effectiveness of everything you put out into the world.
As a storyteller, you also need to be using your medium to be the bridge between data and your audience.
You know the way your eye is drawn to headlines with a number in them? Our brains like to process numbers and it gives us a break from lines of words. In the same way, you can better tell a story using data visualisation.
A good narrative + data = an unforgettable story.
Jennifer L. Aaker, Professor of Marketing at Stanford University, explains that a meaningful story should be memorable, personal and impactful.
She says people respond better to messaging when it’s delivered with statistics or through the medium of stories.
According to Aaker, the future of digital storytelling combines both data and stories. That’s because, when working together, they “resonate with audiences on both an intellectual and emotional level.”
When you present data, it doesn’t have to be in the format of graphs and charts, though it can be if that helps.
Think of it like a detective examining a crime scene. You have to start by trying to understand what happened and determine the evidence that needs to be collected. The presentation of the data will come naturally, once you’ve solved the mystery.
Focus on the story first. Data will follow.
Consider Your Audience
Imagine you were telling the same story twice. Once to an adult and once to a child. You’d switch up the delivery and intonation for both versions.
Similarly, a storyteller should adjust a data-based story for the listener.
Your audience’s current level of understanding and the value they want to take from the content should help this. Beginners to a topic are looking for the story’s major themes, whereas an executive wants details and the significance of every detail.
Your use of analytics tools should be to aid a narrative. They shouldn’t put the focus of the story on data exploration.
Otherwise, you’ll make it too hard for the reader to find the story.
The Audience Always Comes First
Consumers have never been more critical and cynical of brands than they are today.
There’s a disconnect somewhere and that makes purchase decisions more complex. Consumers no longer click on a pair of trainers and buy them there and then.
There’s more online research. More Instagram hashtag searches to see how people are styling those shoes. More digging into potential better options out there.
With so much messaging being targeted toward your audience, it’s no wonder purchasing decisions are more difficult these days.
Studies in Behavioural Economics (BE) found that though we might think we’re rational when making decisions, we’re still influenced by cognitive biases, and social and emotional influences.
They shape everything we do.
Most of our decision-making process is unconscious, so we might not even notice how complex it is to come to a conclusion.
From a content marketing point of view, understanding the way we make decisions can (and should) influence the way we approach communications.
Traditional advertising used to shout about products and prices.
Now, we take a different approach.
We have to get to know an audience so we can understand their beliefs, values and habits. That way we can create content that resonates with them. Content of value.
If you only take 5 points away from this post, read it again.
If you’re in a rush to go and create a memorable story through digital storytelling, keep this in mind:
- Every brand should tell a consistent, authentic story that people care about
- Developing a brand identity takes time but leads to long-term success
- The audience’s pain points, values and needs should come first
- Brands need to find a way to stand out in the cluttered market
- Data plus a good narrative makes a memorable story
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