The art of storytelling: 5 best practices
Summary How to build an effective and constantly updated storytelling strategy? We start with five key best practices: Aim for…
How to build an effective and constantly updated storytelling strategy?
We start with five key best practices:
- Aim for authenticity, building a tone of voice that is consistent, recognizable, credible; but also – and above all – close to the listener.
- Modify your campaigns according to the different channels (in an omnichannel perspective).
- Choose the most effective media and tools: video is unrivaled in the digital ecosystem.
- Build your storytelling campaigns starting from the recipients, dividing your target audience into increasingly specific segments, right down to the individual.
- Measure the results. And, based on these, continually re-calibrate your campaigns to make them more effective.
The art of storytelling
Storytelling has a central role in the world of marketing, for a very simple reason: telling stories is one of the most important characteristics of human beings.
Through stories we acquire new information, we learn what we don’t yet know, we get excited, we get convinced, we express ourselves, we form an identity, we feel we are part of a community.
All of this is fundamental and decisive if the goal is to establish an intimate and fruitful relationship between a brand and its customers. It’s not just a matter of selling products or services. We need to know how to go beyond this perspective, which often turns out to be short-sighted and limited in the medium-to-long term. The truth is that it is also, and above all, a matter of aiming at loyalty.
In recent years, a revolution has profoundly changed the dynamics and methods of storytelling: we’re talking about Digital Transformation.
The advent of digital has changed the cards on the table, for all types of business and all industries. Not only that: it’s a continuous transformation, offering new technologies, new channels, new possibilities, almost daily.
So, what to do? How is it possible to ride all this? How do we orient ourselves in this landscape that changes so frenetically?
We believe the answer is twofold.
On the one hand, it’s a matter of keeping an open mind and eyes on the future in order to spot new trends before the competition.
On the other hand, it’s about learning to do old things, which have always been effective, with new tools. To do that, you need to have solid pillars on which to base your strategies.
5 best practices of the art of storytelling
To help you out, we decided to identify 5 of them. They are the 5 best practices of the art of storytelling – digital storytelling – that you will find in the following post:
1. Be authentic!
Warning: aiming for authenticity doesn’t mean improvising or “doing things as they come.” Far from it!
First and foremost, it means learning from the best, but without copying them.
You have to be aware of who you are, of the message you want to communicate, and of the recipients who will receive it (and we will return to this point later in the post).
To put it another way: you have to know how to build a consistent, strong, credible brand image…but also one that is very close to people. We need to create an emotional connection and aim for a relationship of trust. This doesn’ happen immediately, but over time and with kindness.
How to do it?
Of course, there is no universal recipe that is valid for all types of business.
However, one thing that is fundamental for everyone is the ability to build a unique and unmistakable “voice.” To do this, the first step is to learn to modify it according to the different channels.
And that brings us to the second point.
2. Go through the right channels
Another of the decisive consequences of Digital Transformation has been the exponential multiplication of communication channels available to brands and companies.
An effective storytelling strategy must, first and foremost, take this into account.
First, there are technical issues. And let’s start with a banal example: it is useless to build a storytelling strategy on a site that is designed solely for desktop.
The vast majority of users access the web through mobile devices, so any type of communication must be responsive and optimized for use on smartphones and tablets.
But this is only the first step. And it’s good to go further.
There is a huge difference between a storytelling campaign conducted through branded content in a trade magazine, and one designed to be distributed through social networks.
Warning: one channel does not exclude the other. Indeed, if well managed, these types of campaigns reinforce each other. But you have to know how to find the right tone depending on the channel, without breaking the coherence and authenticity we were talking about above.
Let’s go even further.
There is also a big difference between a storytelling campaign conducted through the brand’s official Facebook pages and a campaign that takes advantage of the influencers’ Instagram pages.
A little tip, on this side: if your goal is authenticity, consider implementing a strategy based also on micro or nano influencers, i.e. people with a smaller, but loyal fan following. They are considered more reliable and – indeed – more authentic.
Then also consider your target audience: are they teenagers? Perhaps it is important to study storytelling that also passes through TikTok.
In short, these are just a few examples. The guiding star to keep in mind is one: be multichannel. Better yet: omnichannel.
And depending on the platform and the recipients, choose the right tone and the right means of communication.
3. The most effective medium? Video!
An effective story starts with authenticity. It goes through the right channel, with the right voice. Most importantly, it must be conveyed by the right medium.
After all, it’s something very intuitive.
Giving a wink can be more meaningful than getting lost in a thousand words… but only if your recipient is only a few feet away from you; during a conference with a thousand people certainly doesn’t work.
It all depends on the situation, the ecosystem.
And the ecosystem in which digital storytelling moves is the web.
So, the question is: what is the most effective means of communication on the web?
The answer, this time, is very clear and precise: video.
It’s no coincidence that around 82% of all internet traffic today is generated by video: a percentage that is growing year by year (source: Cisco Annual Internet Report). Moreover, according to a recent survey, 68% of people said that the pandemic has had an effect on the amount of video they watch online; in 96% of cases, this amount has increased, by a lot (source: Wyzowl)
It’s not just a matter of habit, but also the ability to capture attention and get even complex messages across.
An ability that is evident if you take this other data into analysis: the average user understands and retains 95% of the message contained in a video; when it comes to text, this percentage drops dramatically to 10% (source: Wirebuzz).
We could continue, and we assure you that all data points in the same direction.
In short, there’s no doubt: the most effective medium for digital storytelling is video.
But have we ever wondered who the recipients of our message are?
4. The starting point is the recipient
The title of this fourth point may seem paradoxical, but it is not. For a very simple reason: there is no such thing as the perfect story, suitable for all types of recipients. Every person is different, has their own tastes, preferences, and desires.
Therefore, the real secret of an effective and engaging story is to know who is going to listen to it.
How does this translate to the digital world? In one word: data. In fact, brands and companies today hold more information than ever about their target audience.
It’s all about tracking the traces that users leave online, all the time, across a myriad of touchpoints.
Based on these, the target audience is no longer something nebulous and generic. Of course, you need to have efficient data collection systems that are functional to your business and always up-to-date.
But once they’re on track, the result is the ability to break down your audience of customers (actual and potential) into increasingly specific segments, with common and consistent characteristics, to target with data-driven, tailored storytelling.
The real frontier, however, lies one step further.
Intercepting individual people and creating truly personalized stories. Moving, in short, from one-to-many storytelling to a one-to-one.
Babelee does just that, thanks to its platform dedicated to building and distributing personalized videos.
That is: videos that adapt to the characteristics of the individual recipient, to his navigation choices, and that in this way create user-oriented storytelling, interactive, effective, and engaging more than ever.
5. Measure and re-calibrate… continuously
Just as there’s no such thing as an effective story for everyone, indiscriminately, there’s also no such thing as a story that can’t be improved to optimize its effectiveness.
And again, for brands of any kind, data comes to the rescue.
In fact, you need to learn how to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. The tools are there. It’s all about setting the right metrics and calibrating your analytics tools in a surgical manner.
Try to understand what worked and what didn’t. What is the conversion rate, how does it change depending on the type of target. Evaluate reactions and feedback. Keep an eye on call-to-actions and how they are perceived. Continually test on diverse and meaningful samples.
With this valuable data in hand, companies can continually re-calibrate their digital storytelling strategies to make them more effective, in a virtuous circle of continuous improvement… which is, after all, the real secret of effective marketing and communication.
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