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Digital Storytelling As A Must-Have Element Of Any Marketing Strategy [Definition, Tools, Examples]

Digital storytelling.
It’s a buzzword that we keep coming across on numerous platforms. Peoples’ interest in digital storytelling has been consistently high all over the world.

However, high interest does not indicate adequate knowledge and skills. Specially, when it comes to incorporating storytelling in marketing campaigns, many people don’t have a clear idea of how to do that.

That is what we are going to address in this article.

We start our discussion by explaining what is digital storytelling. Then, we’ll share some essential tips for you to guide you in creating your brand’s stories. Finally, we’ll present some digital tools that would help you achieve that.

Let’s dive in.

What is digital storytelling?

Digital storytelling is the process of using images, videos, text and any other digital content in a story to convey a piece of information. The story, along with its content, is the carrier. The information is the message for a specific audience.

That means you, as the marketing professional, need to build more sophisticated and relevant stories to keep up with your rivals.

Think about using these types of materials:

  • Videos
  • Blog posts
  • Music
  • Images
  • Rich infographics

These elements would help portray your brand effectively across devices and platforms.

elements of digital storytelling

Okay now after I have covered the “what is digital storytelling,” your nimble marketing mind must have jumped to another question.

Why is it a must-have element of marketing?

The number of reasons digital storytelling must be in your marketing arsenal is endless.

But, for the sake of this discussion, I would try to give you three:

  1. A good story drives customer loyalty to your brand. As a result, they are more likely to engage with you in the future repeatedly.
  2. It allows your brand to show its human side to your customers. This “human” criterion makes the transaction feel more like an act of kindness, helpful conversation or a win. All of which are highly desirable.
  3. Digital storytelling optimally places you to benefit from word-of-mouth. When you do, each of your customers turns into your brand ambassadors. It dramatically reduces your marketing expenditure and solidifies brand identity.

benefits of digital storytelling

Let’s now slice into the meat of our discussion.

I would be showing you some amazing digital storytelling examples in between the slices. So do stay tuned!

Tip 1: Break tradition to show a unique angle of your product/service

If you want your brand story to be unique, refreshing and reach peoples’ hearts, be ready to break tradition. Now, what do I mean by that?

Well, it’s a common scenario for most companies to use a common theme when advertising it. That theme tends to be at the core of all stores of that brand.

For instance, Las Vegas in the USA has always been portrayed as the city of gambling, partying and entertainment of all sorts. And this typecasting goes deeper than that. Every brand using Las Vegas in its ads used this image.

Thus, to tell a unique story to inspire visitors who crave a genuine connection, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority broke the stereotype.

As you can see, the video shows a sophisticated, emotional side of Vegas that we do not usually see. It portrays two people meeting, falling in love, overcoming a hurdle and finally getting married in Vegas.

This story achieves two things.

  1. It portrays Vegas in a never-seen-before way. It’s not only exciting but heart-touching.
  2. It makes people wonder about other aspects of Las Vegas. This curiosity is likely to lead to visits to Vegas, which is the end goal of LVCVA.

You would want your brand story to have similar impacts on your audience. Showing your product/service in a completely new and engaging light can help you achieve that.

However, showing the unnoticed aspect of your product or service is not enough. For compelling storytelling, you would also need to…

Tip 2: Figure out the feelings associated with your product/service. Then construct a story to portray those

Your company is not just about the product or service you offer. The feelings that people associate your brand with also fall within the domain of your brand identity.

Let’s put this statement into perspective.

What do you feel when you hear the word Amazon? Or if I may phrase it another way, what words cross your mind when you hear the brand name Amazon? (By the way, here is the ultimate seller’s guide to Amazon marketing strategy).

You would probably say “trust”, “fast delivery”, “reliable” etc.

Now, ask yourself what your brand makes your customers feel. What do you want your brand to be remembered for?

Before I elaborate on this point, let us have a look at the awareness ad below.

This ad intends to raise awareness about the ways a man may be a victim of emotional abuse. It might have like traditional awareness ads. Ones in which a person talks about ways of emotional abuse towards men. While being informative, that method would fail to engage a large number of men on an emotional level.

The awareness ad above puts a man in a situation where he experiences abuse. The sound effect, the dialogues, the facial expression of the man; all of these would make men with similar experiences speak up. Talk about the ways they have been abused and bring this sensitive issue to light.

You can tell a similar, emotionally stirring story for your brand as well.

How can you do it?

Well, for starters, communicate with your customers more. Talk to them about the problems they face in their lives. Ask them how those problems made them feel and how your product/service relieved them of those problems.

The deeper you go, the more emotions you would uncover.
Consequence? The more relatable and compelling your story would be.

Here is one more digital storytelling example that will help you develop a better story for your brand.

Tip 3: Use a variety of story types: triumph, tragedy, tension and transition

Did you know that Luxottica owns many big-name eye-wear brands such as Versace, Ralph Lauren Eye Wear, Prada Eye Wear, Chanel, Ray-Ban and many more? When asked why Luxottica doesn’t operate using its brand name, they answered, “people love variety.”

The same holds when it comes to telling your brand story.

Most brands tend to craft their stories around happiness. While that is effective, it also causes emotional fatigue. And that leads to boredom. The bane of your marketing strategy.

So, what do you do to keep your customers engaged and enchanted with your brand?

Tell stories that trigger a diverse range of emotions such as sadness, anger, fear etc.

As Einstein said, an example is the only way to teach.
So let’s look at one.

As you can see, it’s an ad for Apple Watch.

Let me tell you a secret. I hate Apple Watch. Or any smartwatch for that matter. Or I always defend this feeling of mine with fervour. That I like things the old-fashioned way just like James Bond said in Quantum of Solace.

But after I watched this ad, my heart and brain were wholly inclined towards Apple Watch.

Why?

The ad tells stories of people in distress. It tells stories that depict anxiety, fear of loss of life and how an Apple Watch helped avert a crisis.

I realized how useful and sometimes life-saving an Apple Watch can be. There is not even an iota of doubt in mind about that. I am pretty sure I am going to get one as soon as possible.

Here is another ad that tells an appealing story of pain, defeat and triumph.

Tip 4: Use storyboarding

Remember Alfred Hitchcock? The director of Psycho, Frenzy and many other cult classics? He used storyboards extensively for each of his films. He made his team so engrossed in making the storyboards outstanding that the actual shooting was dull.

But what is storyboarding?

Storyboarding is the process of breaking down a video or a message into micro-frame or scenes. When segmented this way, it becomes super easy to focus on and perfect each of them.

What’s amazing about storyboarding is, you can use them for all sorts of marketing campaigns.

Whether it is an ecommerce marketing campaign or a video to promote a new book your company has prepared, storyboarding can be a huge help in reaching your target customers the right way.

But how can you use storyboarding for digital storytelling purposes?

The tutorial above shows how you can use storyboarding to create an ad. This technique can be used to construct engaging social media captions, website copy and email messages.

Want to know the most significant way storyboarding can help your brand storytelling process? It lets you take into account the emotional response of your customers at each segment of your campaigns.

Tip 5: Make your audience the hero

If you have paid attention to this discussion from the start and watched the example videos carefully, you should have noticed a pattern.

In each tip and the videos that followed, the target customer was at the centre of the story. Not the product or the company.

Why should you do it?

The reason is, when the audience is the hero, it automatically makes the story humane. And in turn, more effective.

So, when crafting stories for your brand’s marketing campaigns, follow this suggestion religiously. As you well know, everyone (almost) loves being the hero of a story!

Overview of the best digital storytelling tools

We have discussed quite a few tips for telling digital stories better. You have seen a bunch of digital storytelling examples yourself.

You need to know that storytelling initiatives aren’t just using your imagination and hundreds of mugs of coffee.

Just like the gadgets of 007, digital storytelling tools help a brand’s story go above and beyond.

Allow me to tell you about three such tools:

Tool 1: Twine
Twine is a free tool that you can use to craft a story and track its progress.

twine

As you can see in the image above, Twine makes a small square around every text block you create. Arrows connect each square block and let you know how the story develops.

Pros: you would not need to have any prior coding skill to develop complex stories here.
Cons: well, the only one I can think of is, you have to download it.

My personal opinion is, Twiner is perfect for small marketing teams with budget constraints.

Tool 2: StoryMaps
Among the digital storytelling tools I have come across, StoryMaps has earned a special place in my arsenal.

StoryMaps lets you inject a lot more elements in your brand story than just text and images. It helps you add that edge to your brand stories that touch your customers’ hearts like that Apple Watch ad touched mine.

storymaps

When using this tool, you would have the freedom to add a wide range of multimedia elements, including interactive maps to your digital stories.

Such variety would help you craft immersive stories that your customers would love to interact with.

Unlike Twine, it is a web-based tool that makes it easier to use.

Tool 3: Shorthand
Shorthand is a fantastic digital storytelling tool that many popular brands have added to their marketing arsenal.

shorthand

Brands like BBC, Honda, Business Insider and Save the Children use ShortHand to create stories that keep millions of readers, fans and contributors engaged.

With this tool, you can bring all your content marketing ideas to a colourful and optimized reality with ease and professionalism.

A digital storytelling tool like Shorthand would obviously be a paid tool. However, you can tailor the price according to your brand’s storytelling needs.

Cool right?

Now that we have discussed some digital storytelling tools, there is something you should know.

The McLaren Speedtail, the car that raced a F35 jet fighter (and lost), is nothing but a tin can in the hands of an amateur driver. And, in the hands of Michael Schumacher, even your Toyota Prius would do wonders!

My point here?

Well, to get the best out of your assortment of digital storytelling tools, you need to keep getting better at this art! Gradually. Consistently.

Let’s create remarkable stories for your brand!

No amount of emphasis would be adequate when it comes to using stories for your brand marketing. Thus, an increasing number of brands are adopting this strategy in their marketing endeavour. An inevitable consequence of that is, peoples’ expectation regarding brand stories are shooting upwards.

If you need a reliable partner for that purpose, then do give ReVerb team a shot. Also, make sure you have a great website design to make the most out of your digital storytelling efforts.

Oh, there is one tip that I totally forgot to mention.

Don’t forget to have fun creating stories!

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