Bryan Kramer, a globally renowned speaker and author says there are no more B2B and B2C, because businesses today are all about H2H or Human to Human. A new wave has begun in the corporate world which is being labeled as the humanization of business.
It is an irrefutable fact that technology often takes away the human interface and that is why technology organisations may be more prone to getting lost in process orientation and loosing the human touch.
IT and technology companies have always taken the lead in innovation and thought leadership. In any case, digital platforms and social media are products created by the tech industry. Digital storytelling is the intersection of technology with human emotion which can facilitate the emotional connect with customers and other stakeholders. This combination of emotion with logic makes it unbeatable and powerful.
If IT organisations take the lead in popularizing digital storytelling, it will not only help them emotionally connect with their consumers but also result in higher sales of their digital products by empowering the digital marketing process itself.
What’s new about storytelling?
Storytelling is about connecting with people and helping people to see, what you see. Digital and social media have democratized business storytelling, which was earlier a privilege of large organisations (executed through the big daddies of advertising). Thanks to digital and social media, everyone can share their story with the world at nominal costs including small and medium sized organisations. Even large organisations like Mahindra Comviva have already begun to train their in-house marketing teams in digital and social media storytelling. Besides organisations and brands can create an image of a more approachable and personal entity for themselves in the eyes of consumers through storytelling on social media.
What is Digital Storytelling?
According to Wikipedia, “Digital storytelling refers to a short form of digital media production that allows everyday people to share aspects of their life story.”Media” may include the digital equivalent of film techniques (full-motion video with sound), animation, stills, audio only, or any of the other forms of non-physical media which individuals can use to tell a story or present an idea.”
In simple words, digital storytelling is telling your story on digital platforms be it your website, blogs or social media.
When and what to story?
Storytelling is a science and stories stay back in our subconscious mind. Storytelling is actually universal. Be it customer testimonials/case studies, interesting anecdotes or company events, they all have potential to be converted into interesting business stories. They may be used for a variety of purposes by an organisation discussed under the applications of storytelling section.
Stories have immense power to inspire action and even business stories can be made inspirational. For example, how you helped a client solve a difficult problem can be presented in a way that it is inspiring for other prospective clients. The achievements of your organisation / the client need to be interwoven in the story in such a way, that it becomes part of the story’s natural flow.
Tools for Digital Storytelling
Here are the major formats for digital storytelling:-
Audio Visual storytelling
Let us discuss and understand each of them in detail.
Text (Blog/micro blog) stories are the most simple to create. Blogs are usually text but also provide options for adding images or embedding videos and presentations. Two of the most powerful applications of text stories are “Our Story” on website (instead of About me/About us) and profile story for social media (for Facebook page / LinkedIn summary/Google + and so on).
A good example would be a story on the new product, how the idea was conceived, how it was tested, what challenges were overcome during the journey and how a successful launch was carried out. The story can be shared on blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Pictures / Photo albums
A picture says a thousand words and if few words are added to a picture, it can tell a touching story. Online media is moving more and more towards visual and audio-visual due to the ease of watching.
Facebook pictures and photo albums can portray the growth of an organisation powerfully for example how the company has grown from a one person company to a team of hundred plus in five years. Pinterest boards can also segregate picture quotes into category specific boards.
We live in an age, where attention span has been subtracted (or reduced) from our lives, yet paradoxically it is called ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). A PowerPoint presentation is a powerful tool in our times to be minimalist with words and yet leave a powerful impression. PPT presentations in a story format, are powerful tools for telling your individual or organizational success story and build an emotional connect with your audience. If a picture says a thousand words, a story surely touches a thousand hearts.
Instead of creating ‘Our Services’ presentations, ‘Our Story’ can be catchier. Another application can be sharing how a customer problem and challenge was resolved and how with the assistance of the product / service provided the customer emerged as the hero of the story in the end.
Infographics have become very popular online because of their power to present information in a visual and appealing way. They also help to visualize relationships and statistics simply and easily and the sequence can also be easily represented. They are not only catchy for the eye, but also fit into the visual human brain better.
Infographics can also be added to press releases to attract media attention. Instead of dry facts and statistics, the information can be given a story touch (a story format may not always be possible). Creating great infographics requires a strong visual sense as well as intellectual capacity though.
Audio storytelling / Podcasts
Hire a powerful voice and go for a podcast to tell your story. Podcasts are very popular online though voice modulation and other speaking skills are required to create powerful podcasts.
Podcasts are very popular in western countries and can be especially useful for tech companies exporting to these countries.
Videos are the most powerful branding tool because of their audio visual impact. SMEs can also make basic animated videos to convey their message. Simple videos can also be made by mixing images and video clips, along with background music. With easy availability of high quality cameras and mobile phones, producing videos is not difficult and expensive anymore.
A product usage demo is a great opportunity to tell a story and stay in the memory of the audience.
Profiles, brochures and catalogues, all have an e-version now and the e-version is becoming more popular due to its zero cost reproduction. They can be made easily available as website downloads or sent through emails.
‘About us’ section of your collaterals needs to be replaced with “Our Story”. Testimonials have to be presented in a catchy way either in the form of conversations or a story. Collaterals can also have videos and presentations embedded into them.
An e-book is a powerful concept for sharing knowledge on a specialized subject and as a launch pad for an upcoming author before you launch a hard copy book. You are also free to include promotional material such as advertisements for your own products and services. An e-book can become all the more powerful tool for thought leaders, change makers and innovators, if the idea is presented in a story format.
Here is a list of major social media channels and story formats which are suitable for them. Their nature of appeal (formal or informal) is also mentioned, which is a crucial element to be kept in mind at the time of story creation as well as posting.
Applications of Digital Storytelling
Brand Building-It can be used for both business and personal branding. In fact storytelling is a powerful tool to integrate the personal and organisation brands.
Brands are built by consistent communication of the attributes in an interesting way. Storytelling meets all these conditions and Stories stay in our mind or memory. Branding is also about staying on top of the mind and becoming memorable for the right qualities.
Lead Generation-Social Media has been internationally recognized as a powerful tool for lead generation and storytelling can aid the process.
Cyber PR-Digital stories are also powerful tools to build relationships with your various stakeholders be it distributors, government, shareholders, local community and so on.
Online advertising-The best advertisements on TV/Cinema have always been powerful stories. They stayed back in our memory for years and the advertisement / advertised product were often at the top of our mind, while purchasing it. Digital storytelling from this perspective is nothing but an old wine in new bottle, a digital bottle actually.
Make the customer the hero of your story
Kotak Mahindra Bank has launched KayPay, for Facebook users to send money to each other instantly. Ping Pay—an application by Axis Bank also allows customers to send, ask for and receive money via Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp,, email and SMS. Creation of mobile apps like Uber and Ola can also be good stories to tell.
In the intelligent world of social media, it is better not to claim yourself to be the hero of your own story. It is better to have the customer as the pivot and the hero. How the tech company behind Kay Pay or Ping Pay created the product can make for an interesting story. (The story of what brief was received from the client and what inputs were provided by the tech company in the process will make everyone happy-the client, the client’s end users and prospects too).
Storytelling on social media is all the more powerful to connect with the millennials or the youth.
Storytelling is no less than a Brahmastra in terms of its power to inspire action, connect emotionally and build reputation. Digital storytelling actually hits the nail right on the heart getting you more than mindshare. Now the question is- are you ready with your hammer?
This is a 12 part series on digital storytelling and its tools. The first article in the series only provides an overview and the rest of the articles will take examples of how the tool is being utilized in India & abroad and how it can be used more effectively.
Dr Amit Nagpal, PhD is a Business Storyteller, Keynote Speaker and Digital Storytelling Coach. He is also a Social Media Influencer and a renowned Inspirational Storyteller. His unique skill lies in inspirational storytelling on social and online media for brand building. He has more than 15 years of work experience in training/coaching and corporates and has featured in several TV, newspaper and online interviews. He tweets at @DrAmitInspires.