Storytelling is an ancient form of communication that humans connect to. Storytelling has been passed from our forefathers’ generations. Be it the stories depicted in the cave present over thousands of years ago or stories of angels, demons, good and bad that were told by the old folks during childhood, there exists an innate demand for stories within humans.
Storytelling has always been a medium that gathered large crowds of audiences from ancient times. Even as humans developed, stories were moved beyond books and were represented visually through cinema, drama, and art. Well-versed stories are absorbed by humans and etched in their memories.
Businesses adopted the storytelling method to connect, engage, acquire, and retain their customers. Brands that have occupied high brand recall are remarkable storytellers. They have struck a chord with their consumers by visually representing their mission, values, and products through stories, for years. Brands like Cadbury’s, Amul, McDonald’s, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola have stayed popular through the times because of their storytelling approach.
With the rising digital consumption, there is a shift in the consumers’ behavior. Consumers continue to seek stories on digital channels. As there exists a plethora of information available n digital, to break through the noise, brands need to look for out-of-the-box ideas that capture their attention. Though the attention span of a human continues to narrow with time, the competition to capture the attention is on rising. A Microsoft study in 2015 revealed that the average human span reduced from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015. Marketers need to uprise themselves with the inundated task of breaking the clutter and striking conversations with their target audience using Digital Storytelling. To be a successful brand, companies need to embrace digital media in their marketing mix.
Let us take you through the article of how digital storytelling can enable you to connect, engage, influence, acquire, retain, and generate brand advocates.
What is Digital Storytelling
Digital Storytelling by definition refers to the communication of stories on digital mediums. As technology has progressed, digital storytelling has evolved from brand storytelling to empowers users to share their stories. Combining the ancient storytelling art with multimedia like graphics, audio, graphics, and web publishing and encouraging digital sharing amidst the consumers; brands can build alluring narratives.
Digital storytelling has been around since the 1990s, the proliferation and ease of access to the technology have evolved digital storytelling. As observed in the article, CDS (Center for Digital Storytelling) has been assisting the sharing of narratives via digital media since the 1990s. The increased adoption of digital tools has made everyone a digital content creator who can build content and share it across the globe. Digital stories uplift the restrictions and enable the message to be transmitted over the globe within a fraction of its creations. In order to, reap the benefits of Digital Storytelling, one must be abreast with the 7 elements as defined by CDS, which are the starting point of the digital narratives.
Point of View: What is the main point of the story and what is the perspective of the author?
A Dramatic Question: A key question that keeps the viewer’s attention and will be answered by the end of the story.
Emotional Content: Serious issues that come alive in a personal and powerful way and connects the audience to the story.
The Gift of Your Voice: A way to personalize the story to help the audience understand the context.
The Power of the Soundtrack: Music or other sounds that support and embellish the story.
Economy: Using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer.
Pacing: The rhythm of the story and how slowly or quickly it progresses.
Understanding the foundations of digital storytelling lets, deep-dive, into how can brands benefit from it and implement it for their businesses.
Importance of Digital Storytelling
Businesses are built on a purpose, have a mission and brands need to communicate these to their consumers so that they understand why they should do business with you. Propagating stories of a brand’s purpose, vision, the value goes a long way in building brand consideration amongst the consumers. Hence, marketers cannot neglect the power storytelling holds to win over their customers’ hearts. With the rising digital consumption, the gears have shifted towards digital storytelling that can aid in establishing relationships between brands and consumers.
As social media users continue to grow, sharing experiences has become a mass norm activity. Brands need to take a leaf from this and include user-generated content in their digital storytelling approach to breaking the clutter of branded content.
Digital storytelling makes it easier for brands to weave employee stories in their communication which adds authenticity flavor to the business. Even business-centric content pegs such as Blogs, vlogs, articles, case studies, infographics need to have storytelling embedded in them. Content remains the vital element of storytelling, here’s why.
Connects with the customers
The traditional marketing approach does not seem to be the only method to acquire a customer’s attention. As consumers spend more time on the internet, they are updated about the products and services that can address their needs. In order to strike conversations with such informed users, relying only on traditional marketing methods is not sufficient. One needs to couple traditional marketing with modern digital marketing strategies.
Creating a context is no longer lucrative, brands need to draw stories that can lure the customer’s attention. By developing stories that are real gives consumers belief as to how the product can solve their problems in real-life situations. Effective storytelling can go a long way in creating memories for your brand that aids connection between you and your consumers.
Raises emotional quotient
Stories give brands the opportunity to showcase the emotional value their products can offer in customer’s life. Digital Storytelling aids in disseminating these stories to the masses in a few minutes post-release and allows customers to engage and share their experiences.
Digital storytelling opens the door of dialogue instead of the monologue communication approach. As the digital message spreads, consumers interact by sharing their opinions, some even extend their thoughts by supporting the story. Thus, brands can deepen the engagement with their audiences and build a community, by leveraging digital storytelling.
Aids in soft selling
Gone are the times when an aggressive discount based selling approach was enough to garner sales and revenues. As the consumer has become more empowered with the information, incentive-based selling is no longer beneficial. Customers look for brands who can tell them exactly how their products will meet their needs.
In the age of personalization, consumers seek stories that communicate directly with them than the masses. They willingly share their details to get offers dedicated to them only. Digital storytelling makes it easier for brands to create communications targeted to a specific user basis their past behavior.
Builds trust in a brand
Digital storytelling gives brands a chance to showcase their authenticity which aids in building trust amidst their audience. As businesses become transparent about their process, products, employees, and the struggles they have endured; consumers are moved and are able to connect willingly with such brands.
Brands can influence consumers’ decision-making abilities by narrating compelling stories. Stories aid in humanization that can shift the gears leading to purchases for the brand. Digital storytelling augments the message transmission to a wider audience across the globe and enables brands to nurture them towards the sales funnels.
Implementing Digital Storytelling in Business
After knowing the importance of digital storytelling, now let us see how businesses can gain consumer confidence with digital storytelling.
Unearth genuine, interesting stories
The product promotional videos have evolved into explainer videos, how-to videos, promotional videos. With a variety of videos being available online, brands cannot rely on the earlier method of communicating the offerings via executive-led promotional videos for the product. Consumers expect brands to answer what, how, why questions along with differentiation over the competitors in their communication.
As a brand, you can add a human element in digital storytelling in a much convenient way, create a mascot that can capture the attention of consumers, and engage with them to help you understand what your customer seeks. Inspiring users with real authentic stories can help in building a dedicated audience for your brand.
Impact humanity, society
Consumers prefer engaging with brands that look beyond profits and how they can create an impact on their society. Though Corporate Social Responsibility is part of many companies, communicating this vociferously to consumers is missed by many brands. Customers look for brands who make them a part of their cause, thereby giving them an opportunity to make their impact on society.
Digital storytelling can aid in faster dissemination of communicating a brand’s efforts towards society at larger. Inculcating consumer responses can add credibility to their efforts. Employee-led initiatives that serve the community at large can also be showcased on digital channels thereby increasing the momentum of the movement.
Keep it short and simple
Often companies especially in the field of technology or B2B believe that their products are technical and hence cannot be justified with stories. As the consumers have shifted towards watching videos prior to product purchase, brands need to include educational content videos. Digital storytelling offers brands a great platform to share a short series of technical specifications of the video which are easy to comprehend for their users.
Focusing on one key message simplifies the storytelling and helps in garnering the customer’s attention. Brands can break down their features and create a short series that inspire consumers to look up to them. Leveraging digital storytelling businesses can engage their audiences and encourage them to act in their favor.
Nurture buyers with your stories
With the increased digital adoption, digital touchpoints play a key role across the buying journey of the consumers. Brands can create various stories to move consumers through awareness-familiarity-consideration-purchase-loyalty. Digital storytelling can be effectively used to ensure the message resonates with the target audience.
For instance, you are searching for the best dishwasher, you find a company to visit their website, and browse through the information of price, specifications, maintenance, etc. However, you still avoid purchasing the product without seeing how it works or how it can be maintained. Soon, you discover a video on their website that showcases How it can be maintained at home, the chances of you clicking and purchasing the product increases by multiple folds.
Display empathy to engage
While the core objective of communication is to communicate the product, emotions play a considerable role in garnering consumers’ attention. Thus, emotions cannot be left out of communication. Storytelling coupled with emotions goes a long way in connecting with the target audience.
Brands that use link emotions with digital storytelling have successfully garnered mind share from the consumers. Emotions elicit empathy within customers’ hearts which aids in deepening relationships with brands. Global brands like Coca-Cola, Nike, Apple, and Pepsico have gained market share with their empathetic storytelling approach that differentiates them from their competition in a unique way.
Include consumers in your storytelling
Consumers should be the real heroes of the stories. They bring the product and services to life; in their absence, a business would not be able to enjoy the success they do. It is essential for businesses to make consumers participate in their storytelling.
Digital medium gives brands an opportunity to easily include user-generated content in their communication. Brands can encourage consumers to share their experiences and in turn inspire others like them. Consumer stories have a far outreaching impact on garnering leads than a brand-led approach alone.
Adopt social media storytelling trends
Social media platforms are evolving. Twitter and LinkedIn have commenced with Long-form posts, while Facebook has added stories, on the other hand, Instagram started with Reels. The constant evolution of the medium makes it vital for brands to tell their stories in the most relevant method that consumers are following.
For instance, a clothing brand may appeal more to the millennial by showcasing a Reel than a standard short video. Brands need to onboard the right agency partner who are themselves abreast with the ever-evolving needs and guide them to select mediums that would enable them to achieve their objectives better.
Successful Digital Storytelling Examples
While there are many brands who have evolved their storytelling art into digital storytelling like Heinz, Nike, Coca-Cola, Land Rover, and many more, we have showcased three brands below who have empowered their consumers along their journey.
As Steve Jobs said, “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.” Apple has not only been at the helm of technology, creative thinking but it has also been a leader of digital storytelling ever since the launch of their product Macintosh.
The commercial relays a character-led approach from start to end that announces how the world of 1984 would not be the same as the introduction of Macintosh. The Apple event wherein Steve Jobs introduced Apple products also followed the tradition of storytelling. The tradition of digital storytelling continues at Apple even after Steve Jobs with the way products and the campaign has been launched. Even during the lockdown, Apple-inspired audiences with their ‘Creativity goes on’ campaign.
Dove has made beauty authentic by including a real customer testimonial. Their campaigns made their stories more credible with ‘real’ people. Showcasing diverse women in different stages of life gave them aid to garner brand recognition from their consumers.
Women all over the world related to Dove campaigns as they empathized with their insecurities. This led to the overwhelming response their communication has seen over the years. The company has extended the approach to it’s Men Care. The campaign ‘Mission: Care’, launched its Men Care by reuniting fathers separated from their families. The film starts with a military man serving the country who missed his new-born child’s birth. The ad shows how Dove took the opportunity to bring his family to him and captured the emotions. Launching the campaign on Father’s Day was perfect to capture the hearts of their consumers.
Airbnb realized the importance of storytelling that would aid in connecting with their audience emotionally and differentiate them from their competition. With this thought, they launched a commercial that unveiled Airbnb’s vision ‘Be Anywhere’. The campaign had a compelling narrative coupled with animation and characters that engaged consumers.
Soon enough they extended the storytelling to their consumers. A series of stories feature on their wall which is shared by genuine consumers. This has enhanced their brand awareness amongst its consumers.
Digital storytelling is an important medium of branding for businesses today. As users spend more time online and their average time spent decreases, brands need to capture their attention with authentic, genuine, empathetic, and compelling narratives. Empowering the consumers by including them in their storytelling raises the credibility and establishes trust for brands. Marketers need to imbibe digital storytelling as the new means of communication with their target audience to move them through the sales funnel.
DGsaga is a strategic digital consulting agency that expertise in amplifying your story on digital channels. We build your brand by narrating stories that deepen relationships with your consumer across digital channels.
We facilitate interactions between consumers and brands by delivering brand messages across digital channels. Our service offerings combine consumer needs and industry insights to create unique strategies that increase your ROAS.
A perfectly crafted story empowers your brand to stand apart from the rest. At DGsaga, we expertise in creating digital experiences. DGsaga is a strategic digital consulting agency that expertises in amplifying your story on digital channels.