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  • Writer's pictureDylan Pemberton

What Is Digital Storytelling & Why Is It So Important To Modern Content Marketing?

Updated: Jun 15, 2023


What is digital storytelling?

In the contemporary digital landscape, forward thinking brands are increasingly recognising the immense potential of digital storytelling when it comes to their content marketing approach. This more evolved, refined and considered approach dovetails the classic art of storytelling with the vast reach and engagement opportunities now offered by todays digital platforms. Digital storytelling is, increasingly, impacting heavily on the content marketing strategies of all the most successful operations from start-ups to long established, household brands. We touched on this subject in our last blog "Social, Digital, Content & Marketing Automation Trends 2023" which you can read here. So What's Our Idea Of Digital Storytelling? If you’re not already familiar with this basic concept then digital storytelling is all about using digital tools and technologies to underpin the way that we tell stories and it combines the age-old art of telling stories with contemporary multimedia elements (images, video, audio, interactive tools etc.) to create really engaging narratives. When it comes to digital storytelling, Irigait typically construct this using a combination of text, images and multimedia components. We then combine them in a linear or nonlinear format, depending on the story. It’s perfect for most mediums (including websites, blogs, social media, presentations, videos and much more).


We usually follow four key tenets in our digital storytelling approach: (1) We Craft A Defined Story: We start with a narrative or a story that we want to convey and we typically use a personal experience, a historical event or even a fictional "fable-like" concept. But it's almost always like what's known as a treatment for a film - it's a skeleton of the story we want to tell.


(2) We Weave In Multimedia: We then, where appropriate/relevant, incorporate different types of media to enhance the narrative be it photos, videos, animations, music, sound effects, voice-overs, testimonials and/or text. All elements are very carefully selected and blended to underpin and enhance the story and to ultimately create a compelling experience for the intended audience.


(3) We Create An Interactive Envelope: We try to shrinkwrap all of our digital storytelling with interactive elements that engage the audience and which, ideally, enable them to actively immerse themselves in and participate with the structured narrative that we’ve positioned. This can include clickable links, questions (perhaps on Insta stories for example), surveys, votes, comments or a raft of other interactive features that may be at our disposal depending on the format/medium/outlet we are in play with and all of which are put in-situ to encourage active engagement and further exploration.


(4) We Leverage Technology: Naturally, we rely on all the latest digital tools and technologies to create this exciting content and to then distribute and amplify it. We use various software applications, web platforms, multimedia editing tools, and content management systems to facilitate the creation and sharing of all the digital stories that we have created.

If you want to dissect all this out there in the wild, you only need to watch a set of adverts shown in between your favourite TV show since storytelling has already dominated TV advertising (however, the medium of TV arguably offers less interactivity). Once you do appreciate the concept then, more and more, you’ll really start to notice just how prevalent this form of marketing is today. John Lewis Home Insurance for example created a really lovely storytelling ad using Tiny Dancer for the score and that alone definitely underpinned the story they were telling. The ad really connected with parents - their target audience in this endeavour - with the message that they can let their kids really express themselves and just be kids (as long as they have John Lewis Insurance that is). It offered viewers a sentimental experience of their own childhoods and could be considered a very human advert especially for what's actually a rather boring product. Rather than coming across as cynical and/or salesy though, they used storytelling to come across as caring.

The real question you may now be asking is just why has digital storytelling become the current zeitgeist in modern marketing?

 

Digital Storytelling Connects With Your Audience On an Emotional Level...

Digital storytelling - connect on an emotional level

Human beings are inherently drawn to stories and it’s been that way for thousands of years. Digital storytelling allows brands to connect with their audience on a deeper and more emotional level. By presenting your content in a narrative format it allows you to evoke emotions, establish empathy, and forge stronger connections with your target audience. This kind of emotional resonance enhances your brand loyalty and it encourages your customers and prospects to engage and share your brand's message which, ultimately, helps better drive your customer acquisition and retention (or at least your engagement). When you get it right, it can truly help you connect. That's what people want and expect today especially given the superfluity of choice that's usually available to them.


It Allows You To Differentiate Within A Crowded Marketplace...

Digital storytelling - differentiate in a crowded marketplace

In a competitive, always-on marketplace that’s absolutely saturated with often conflicting or even combative advertising messages, you simply have to find new and innovative ways to stand out. Digital storytelling enables brands to differentiate themselves by creating unique narratives that captivate their audience's attention. By crafting compelling stories around your ethos, brand values, history, your purpose and your personal experiences; brands like yours can create a distinct identity that really set you apart from your competitors. This differentiation builds distinct brand recognition and establishes a memorable presence in the minds of your customers.


It Enhances Your Customer Engagement and Interactivity...

Digital storytelling - enhance engagement

Traditional advertising often fails to engage and interact with consumers effectively. Digital storytelling changes that paradigm by offering interactive elements and incredibly immersive experiences. Brands can leverage various and often blended digital mediums (such as videos, podcasts, interactive websites, and social media campaigns) to captivate their audience and invite active participation. This interactivity can deepen your consumer engagement, prolong your audiences attention span and encourage them to become active participants in your own brand's narrative.


It Leverages The Power Of The Visual...

Digital storytelling - leverage the visual

With the butterfly minds of the modern audience front of mind; we know from experience that visual storytelling is now an absolutely critical aspect of digital storytelling. With the rise of social media platforms and the growing popularity of image and video-based content, we can leverage visually appealing narratives to convey messages much more effectively - and faster. Visual storytelling enables us to communicate what may be complex and profound ideas a lot more quickly, better grab attention and evoke emotions in a much more engaging way - no matter what the product or service. By incorporating visual elements like infographics, video and multimedia presentations, we are able to make content much more memorable and shareable.


It Expands Your Reach And Amplification

Digital storytelling - expand reach and amplification

Digital platforms, especially the marketing automation platforms we use for example, offer brands the opportunity to really amplify their stories and reach a much broader audience. Via intelligent content sharing, social media engagement, the use of hashtags, our own proprietary watering hole marketing and a variety of other techniques; we can extend reach far beyond traditional advertising channels are able to. Digital storytelling empowers brands to leverage the viral nature of the online world and captivating stories can rapidly spread across social networks, generate buzz and attract new customers who then immediately relate to and resonate with the brand's narrative. Birds of a feather flock together...


It Builds Trust and Authenticity

Digital storytelling - build trust and authenticity

Trust is fundamental to any successful brand-client relationship. Digital storytelling allows you to convey your authenticity and build trust by sharing genuine and relatable stories. By transparently narrating your brand's journey, showcasing elements like your customer testimonials, revealing behind-the-scenes glimpses and/or just telegraphing your own personality, you can easily establish an emotional bond based on honesty and transparency. This trust cultivates a loyal customer base and it drives brand advocacy where satisfied customers become brand ambassadors. Word of mouth right...


It Helps You Better Measure and Optimise Your Performance

Digital storytelling -  better measure and optimise performance

Digital storytelling can empower you with the advantage of precise data analytics and measurement. It's incredibly visible. Through the digital platforms we use, we can track engagement metrics (such as views, likes, shares, comments, clicks and conversions) and fully evaluate the effectiveness of your storytelling in a very granular way. This data-driven approach allows us to optimise and refine content marketing strategies continually. By understanding which stories resonate most with any given audience (and, depending on your audience, multiple relatable stories may be required for differing demographics), we can continually refine the narrative, adapt the message and ultimately achieve superior results.


In Summary

For Irigait at least, digital storytelling has become a transformative force in all our content marketing over recent years. Many, many years actually. We’ve kind of always naturally done it without really putting a specific "marketingy" name to it. It has enabled us to help our clients connect emotionally, differentiate themselves, enhance engagement, leverage visual elements, expand reach, build trust and better measure their performance. As brands increasingly understand and recognise the power of storytelling in the digital realm then, more and more, we expect to see not just an even greater upswing in the deployment of this method but to experience and learn from even more innovative and compelling narratives that continue to captivate audiences and drive success in the future. We actually love studying the narratives of others. It’s all common sense really - we’ve told and passed on stories for thousands of years and all we’re doing now is the same thing using the suite of technology and communication channels that are now available to us - we've essentially swapped cave paintings and scrolls for computers. The esteemed film director, Jean Luc Godard (rightly) said “Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.” We think that is so true…

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