Updated on 22/02/2023
What is effective storytelling?
In the Neolithic age, the first storytellers used cave walls, carving tools, and pigment to remember and share stories from their lives.
Over the years, narrative techniques have evolved with us, to the point where they became a social model. In fact, behind many stories, a moral issue or important teaching is meant to be passed on to others.
Why is storytelling important?
The power of storytelling is clear—stories catch our attention, they influence us, and they inspire us to action. Storytelling is an especially important mechanism for companies and for those who adopt Inbound marketing strategies.
But what does the term storytelling mean? Literally, it should be translated as telling “stories,” a way of conveying something that happened or to express an idea, which may be expressed in spoken word, through song or on paper. For this post, we’ll be focusing on the use of storytelling as a tool for written communication, part of a larger communicative strategy that companies use to speak directly to their audience, to convey its ideas and points of view.
In storytelling, the goal of the writer is to communicate (useful) information able to move or inspire the reader. But this is not enough. In addition, it is also necessary to provide memorable sentences that people will share with others. This is also known as knowledge sharing: one of the many tools used by companies to establish a reputation. We can remind a famous quote written by Gabriel Garcià Marquez: “What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”
Which form of storytelling is right for you?
Copywriters and content marketers both employ this communicative strategy on the internet, where a new form of storytelling has emerged. Digital storytelling is a short form of digital media production that incorporates a variety of elements—text, images, audio, video—into a story. In an online medium, stories can be collaborative and interactive, in a way that brings the reader, the audience into the story in a unique way.
Because the aim of storytelling is to communicate (useful) information able to move or inspire the audience, video, music, images, texts, and maps can all be useful in capturing the reader’s attention. Based on this, we can classify five different types of storytelling:
- Video storytelling: The story is told thanks to the possibility to modify videos, adding questions, comments, text and hyperlinks
- Visual storytelling: Telling a story using images
- Transmedia storytelling: Using a variety of web-based resources such as images, videos, and music to tell a story
- Timeline storytelling: A form of narration composed of chronologically organized events
- Story mapping: The use of maps, images, or other signposts used to highlight the important parts of a story, used to map out its progression
When should you use storytelling?
Storytelling may be employed in many different ways. Used as a marketing tool, the common use of storytelling is to engage the audience in order to bring new visitors to the website or to improve customer loyalty. As a communicative strategy, storytelling is especially useful in:
- Sales: To convince the reader to buy your product/service, to sell and to distinguish yours from those of your competitors
- Advertising: To promote the brand and increase awareness of it among target customers
- Politics: To share a message and bring in new supporters
- Marketing: To capture the attention of your target audience, to create a need for your products or services and to build a relationship based on loyalty
- Personal branding: To establish a reputation by highlighting one’s strengths, knowledge and skills
How to create stories to catch readers’ attention?
It is commonly said that behind successful storytelling there is a good storyteller. Creativity, the ability to inspire action or emotion, the ability to connect to the reader, and respect for the audience are all features of a good storyteller.
In marketing, the storyteller must be able to capture readers’ attention, to inspire a need and to build a relationship with them. Here are elements that every story should include:
- A captivating introduction or hook: “A good start is half of the job.” A good introduction sets the stage for the whole story, introducing the main contents and encouraging people to go on reading.
- Context: It’s important to contextualize what you want to tell while proving the information that will make your story unforgettable.
- The appearance of a hero: Who is the hero? He/she is the person who embodies the good and is the only one able to solve the problem. His/her actions are guided by an idea, shared and defended during the whole story. It is necessary to underline that, in marketing, the “enemy” is not the “competitor.”
- The ending: If the aim of the introduction is to capture the reader’s attention, the objective of this final part is to “say goodbye” in an equally memorable way.
- The lesson: The most effective stories teach us something, they stimulate curiosity, they inspire action. If you do any of these things, you will hit the mark.
The effectiveness of storytelling depends on the features of the companies, the products, services or experiences they have to offer, and the environment in which they operate. Here are some general guidelines for your storytelling:
- Start with creating an appealing title: If you’re in a library or bookstore, what motivates you to reach for one book over another? While looking through the shelves, the title is the first thing to catch your attention. The title must be specific, and it should include the keywords that are important for you. Furthermore, the title should help readers understand what the story will be about, and it should be able to tell the reader what they will learn.
- “Stories drive people to action”: Storytelling must be persuasive and highly convincing. In fact, the more your audience is involved, the more it is willing to buy. This willingness is only a small part of your marketing strategy. After capturing readers’ attention, you have to convince them to buy. According to Inbound Marketing strategy, after having written a good story, add a call to action to lead the customers to your website.
- Make it shareable: When we discover something interesting, we want to share it with others. In its “About us” story, SoulCycle transmits the enthusiasm and the beauty of sharing the same sense of belonging: “We sweat, reach, and recover, together.” (soul-cycle.com). This is a strong motivation for viewers to feel connected with the brand. In our internet- and social media world, this is crucial. The internet offers us a sense of connection, the sense of being part of a bigger group, even if virtual. In this situation, the idea of “unknown” changes and the number of people you keep in touch with widens. We can talk about collaboration and sharing on an unprecedented scale.
- Choose the right social media: According to Hubspot, 71% of customers who have had a positive experience on a brand channel are more willing to recommend it to others. So, how to choose the best channel? Start with your priorities: is it promotion or sales? Your audience members will not all like the same communication channel; Some will prefer Facebook, others will prefer Twitter or Instagram.
- Know your target: The best way to get close to your audience is to be a reader first, to learn what your target customers are saying about what they want, to learn about their habits. This will help you understand what will be interesting for readers.
- Make it interesting and appealing: Use images and an original format. Remember that “white space” is your friend. Be intentional about the information that you share and don’t overwhelm the reader with too much text or too many images. Make your story easy to read and interesting enough for the reader to keep on reading.
Telling a memorable story is not easy, but it is worth the effort.
Now, imagine a story made even more engaging because it contains a video where the viewer is able to actively influence the evolution of scenes. This is possible with personalized and interactive videos from Doxee Pvideo®.
With Doxee Pvideo®, your audience will be the focus of the story because they can decide the sequence of scenes through embedded calls to action. Furthermore, the personalization of data will allow you to provide a unique video specific to each client.