Digital Storytelling in Marketing is a very effective and an important part of a company’s Marketing strategy. In the following article we are going to dive deep into the history of Digital Storytelling, the importance and benefits of using Digital Storytelling, and the platforms and mediums that you can use.

Most importantly, we are going to give you tips on how to implement Digital Storytelling for your own company.

Table of Contents

I. Elements of Digital Storytelling
II. History of Storytelling in Marketing
III. Storytelling is Memorable
IV. Storytelling Naturally Motivates
V. What is Digital Storytelling?
VI. Platforms to Use in Digital Storytelling
VII. Digital Storytelling Mediums
VIII. Elements of Success In Digital Storytelling
IX. Benefits of Digital Storytelling
X. How to Develop Your Brand Story

Elements of Digital Storytelling

The marketplace gets increasingly crowded every day. Companies and brands continually compete to try to break through the “noise” and attract potential customers. It’s more difficult for brands than ever to get attention from potential customers. So how do you break through the noise?

One effective way for brands to stand out is to focus on storytelling. This helps a company share the message and product. Also, it helps to bring the brand to life and differentiate it from other companies.

Storytelling also encourages the company to emotionally connect with customers that share its values. By doing so, this increases the likelihood that they will remain loyal customers.

The History of Storytelling in Marketing

People Storytelling in the Dark Around a Campfire

Storytelling is not a new human phenomenon. There are cave paintings dated back 30,000+ years ago in France depicting men being chased by bulls. Ancient Greeks used to gather around poets such as Homer to hear epic tales. In the 1930’s in the United States, families gathered around radio to hear their favorite programs.

Different Storytelling Mediums in History

There have also been different mediums used to tell stories over the years including cave paintings, stone tablets, oral storytelling, written stories, radio, television, and now internet. Storytelling has always been a part of human history, however, the idea of storytelling within the world of marketing is relatively new.

Marketing Expert Seth Godin

Marketing expert, Seth Godin, was one of the first marketing thinkers to argue that the art of storytelling is a fundamental component of marketing. He wrote about this topic in his book, “All Marketers Are Liars” in 2005. By doing this, he planted the idea that storytelling was now officially a part of the strategic marketing plan.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell.”

-Seth Godin

It wasn’t until 2012 that the mainstream considered Storytelling as an area of Marketing. Before that time, it was not officially considered an element of Marketing or Marketing skill.

Chipotle Makes Storytelling Mainstream

All of that changed when the Mexican food chain, Chipotle, created an animated video entitle “Back to the Start.” This video depicts the story of a farmer that started using traditional farming methods. He then sold his soul and took a more industrial approach. After seeing the side effects of his new methods, he then had a change of heart and went back to his initial farming methods.

The animation was accompanied by a rendition of Coldplay’s song, “The Scientist,” and was sung by Willie Nelson. This video was played during the 2012 Grammy Awards. It was a sensation and it brought Storytelling to the forefront of Marketing.

See the Chipotle video below:

Not only did this video carve the path for a new form of marketing, but it allowed people to connect emotionally with its message of healthy food and ethical farming practices. The song that accompanied the video also stirred emotion.

The combination of the storytelling, message, and music really resonated with people. This created a very memorable and heart-touching campaign that carved out a whole new path for storytelling in marketing.

Storytelling is Memorable

Even as children, parents tell stories to their children to teach them lessons and entertain them. Humans in general absorb stories better than facts and figures. By storytelling you can create something that can be memorable to customers or potential customers and give them something to connect to as in the example of Chipotle’s video.

Storytelling Offers an Opportunity to Entertain, Inform, and/or Engage

By telling a story you have the opportunity to entertain, inform, and/or engage an audience and make it memorable. Stories are a proven method to get a person’s attention and help to stimulate brain activity. That being said storytelling is an ingenious way to help your brand stand out and be more memorable.

In addition, the hard sale tactics of yesteryear are no longer acceptable or effective. People today don’t want to be sold to. Customers are now looking for companies that can be a go-to place and provide resources to them in the form of content and information.

Today’s customers also want to connect emotionally with your brand and your brand’s story. The story that you tell has to make them picture themselves in the scenario and make them hear, see, and feel your message.

Storytelling is also an effective way to breathe life into your campaign and build a connection with your customers. It is very important to create a story with your brand and products as it differentiates them from other companies and products.

Storytelling Naturally Motivates

The underlying purpose of marketing is to inspire and encourage a call-to-action. By creating and telling stories you motivate your audience to connect with you and take a specific action. The ultimate goal of marketing is to inspire and also to drive a consumer to a call-to-action.

Knowing this it is important to really think about what story you want to tell and what action you want to drive your audience to take. It is so much more compelling to tell a story to drive people to take the action than using hard sales tactics.

What is Digital Storytelling?

Now let’s bring in the Digital element to storytelling. How does the Digital world play a part in Brand Storytelling? There is no doubt that Technology has had a profound effect on how we tell stories. Our communication as people evolves as our technology evolves. Storytelling today bears resemblance to the storytelling methods used in the ancient world, however using technology to amplify its reach and makes it accessible to anyone that wishes to create their own story.

The Ever-growing Use of Technology

With the ever-growing use of computers, tablets, and mobile phones it is essential to be leverage the power of technology for your brand’s story and message.

As of January 2019, there are 5.11 billion unique mobile users, 4.39 billion internet users, 3.48 billion social media users in 2019, and 3.26 billion people use social media on mobile devices (statistics by from Jan 30, 2019 in the article

This is an enormous opportunity to leverage technology and use Digital Storytelling to share your brand story with the world and bring your message and campaign to life. By using Digital Storytelling, you can create conversations with your costumers rather than just talking to them. This ability to actually interact in real-time is a new phenomenon and can also create another opportunity for your company to connect with its followers and also gain invaluable feedback and insight into your customers needs.

Platforms to Use in Digital Storytelling

There are many different platforms that you can use to develop your Digital Storytelling strategy such as:P

  • Social Media Platform
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • Snapchap
    • TikTok
    • Pinterest
    • LinkedIn
    • Tumblr
    • YouTube
  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • E-Mail
  • Apps
  • Messenger Apps
  • Podcasts

Digital Storytelling Mediums

As well as a variety of different Digital Platforms that can be used to tell your brand’s story, there are many different mediums that can be used as well. In the case of the Chipotle campaign they used and effective video. However, there are lots of options such as the ones listed below:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Audio
  • Text
  • Written articles
  • Info-graphics
  • User-generated content
  • Interactive elements

Elements of Success in Digital Storytelling

There are various components that you can add to your Digital Storytelling strategy to help make it a success. Below are some of the elements that we suggest to incorporate in any of your Digital Storytelling campaigns:

  • Excellent copy writing
  • Multimedia (images and/or video)
  • Narratives that connect over various platforms
  • Detailed wording
  • Customer-focused narrative
  • Authenticity

Benefits of Digital Storytelling

The benefits of Digital Storytelling are numerous. As computers, tablets, and mobile phones become more and more prevalent the opportunities to connect digitally with customers become vaster.

By using Digital Storytelling, you use of the benefits of storytelling through the ever-growing method of technology. Let’s look a little deeper into three major benefits of Digital Storytelling such as building relationships, making content exciting, and making something old new again.

Digital Storytelling Builds Relationships

By effectively using Digital Storytelling you have the opportunity to build relationships. If a customer connects with your brand and your message, they most likely will be a repeat customer. This gives you the power to create a relationship with them.

Also, as mentioned previously, Digital Platforms allow for an interactive approach to storytelling. You can create a video, image, article, or any piece of content and they have the ability to comment and share their thoughts on the content.

This opens up an opportunity for dialog with the customer and also connecting with them in this way can really create wonderful opportunities for customer loyalty. By responding to their comments, they feel like they are important and a valued customer.

By sharing stories and messages you allow you customers to connect emotionally with your company and with your brand.

Digital Storytelling Can Make Content Exciting

Let’s face it, sometimes just spewing out content can be, well boring. By creating a story and various multimedia pieces on the message and story you make the content a lot more exciting and more enticing for the customer. This can especially be very effective for dry industries that without a story could make it very difficult to connect with customers.

Digital Storytelling Can Make Something Old New Again

There are very few things in this world that are truly original. Most ideas have been done before. Using Digital Storytelling gives you an opportunity to take a concept that has been done or heard before but create your own unique way of expressing it. By doing this, it could make something old into something new.

Develop Your Digital Brand Story

In order to develop a brand story, take the previous concepts discussed earlier in this article and think about the beginning of your company.

Create a narrative by answering the following questions:

  • When did you passion for your industry start?
  • What was your first experience in the field, industry or product?
  • Think about your passion for the industry and how you developed your passion farther.
  • Tell us about the struggles and challenges that you endured while building the company.
  • Or, paint a picture of the struggles that inspired the idea behind the company or the product.
  • Think of ways that you can incorporate the consumer into your brand story.

You can start to use these questions to start to develop ideas about your brand story. It can really bring the brand and company to life. Also, try to offer your customers a chance to be part of your brand story.

Define Your Customer Personas

One very important exercise is to define your customer personas. This is where you describe the details of your target audience. This is essential because if you want to create a message you need to know who you are creating the message for. You can have multiple personas and develop different messages and different stories to cater to each segment.

Define Digital Platforms and Mediums for Digital Storytelling

Once you have your customer personas defines, now you have to decide which Digital Platforms would be most effective for your target audiences. There are so many platforms available so it is imperative to do some research and find out which platforms your personas are on. Start to ask yourself questions like:

  • Is my target audience on Facebook?
  • Do they listen to podcast?
  • Are they professionals on LinkedIn?
  • Would they be interested in “How To” videos like on YouTube?
  • Also, it is better to focus on 3-4 platforms and do it effectively rather than trying to be on 8 and spreading yourself too thin.

Think About the Digital Storytelling Medium

In addition, since there are many different mediums to choose, you have to think about which mediums would be most effect to tell your brand story. Is it video, blog articles, on social media posts, or a bit on all of them? There are lots of choices so try to think which mediums your target audience would respond to best.

Also, you can use multiple forms of media to reflect the brand story. Just keep in mind that in telling a story you need to have a beginning, middle, and end. However, this can be done in one piece of content – like the Chipotle video – or spread over an entire campaign.

In Digital Storytelling there are really endless options and lots of opportunity. We hope that some of these ideas are helpful for you to build your brand story digitally.

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