Digital Storytelling: What You Get When Art and Science Connect
Have you ever noticed that some ads we remember for a long time, while others, no matter how beautifully made, we forget almost as soon as we have seen it? There is no magic wand at work here. The ads we remember are the brainchildren of marketers that understood the way the brain works when it comes to branding. In most cases, they tell a story.
Storytelling is not a new concept in marketing. People have been using it for decades because people love stories and they strike an emotional chord in their audience. In the digital age, storytelling has become even more popular for brand marketing because it is so easy to share through social media. However, the best kinds of stories are those that people remember which is not so easy.
Most know that storytelling is the best way to engage their audience, but few make the connection between the art and science of storytelling. Fortunately, many of the basic principles of storytelling remain true for the current audience, so there is no real learning curve. You just need to know how to adjust to the changes to use it effectively.
Changes in Attitude
Gone are the days when brands could simply yell “look at me!” the loudest (using traditional media, which means big pockets) and get the attention of the audience. People have shorter attention spans and more suspicion for big companies in this age of transparency. This is why social media has become so popular. Anyone can tell a story and find an audience for it, and people are more likely to believe it.
This change in audience attitude is mostly due to the ease of access to digital text and visual content on multiple platforms, which also happens to be a natural way (now) to market your brand. People go online to find information or solutions to problems, typically supplied by regular people, and take what big companies say with a grain of salt.
Yet this does not spell doom for big (or even small) businesses. If you are a company trying to gain the trust and confidence of your audience, you simply have to know what drives them and how they use digital content. This applies to other businesses as well, as decision-makers are still people with their own triggers, many of whom are the notorious Millennials.
The Art of Storytelling
A good story is an effective marketing tool, and a good story is well constructed. Many companies employ professional essay service to do the actual writing, but you still need to provide the framework. Whether it is an epic drama or a 60-second ad, you need it to tell a complete story in the correct order: exposition, complication, climax, reversal, and outcome.
Most experts agree that the art of good storytelling is in finding and using the “hook” that will connect to the audience on an emotional level. However, how do you find the hook?
The science of storytelling
A good story from a marketing perspective, at least, is only as good as the degree to which it resonates with the target audience. Creativity is fine, but you need some data from which to base your stories that will engage your audience. As mentioned earlier, the only way you can tell the right story is to do your audience research, and that is where science comes in.
A good example of a B2B that uses digital storytelling for awesomely effective inbound marketing is Kickstarter. Its whole strategy is to encourage regular people with great ideas to tell their stories to other regular people and get their support.
Another B2B that gets their clients to tell their story for them is Salesforce. Using testimonial marketing, the site prominently features a full write-up of the success stories of other business that use their services.
Notice how these two companies make a point of featuring stories as the driving force for the business. Storytelling is a powerful tool because it evokes an emotional response. It triggers the human need to make a connection with other people, even if it is on the business level.
The key term here is “connection.”
Understanding Your Audience
When you understand your audience, you can identify their motives and triggers a.k.a. hooks that will help them relate to your story, remember it, and associate it to your brand. The easiest way to assess customer engagement is to look at the numbers and ask them. However, you need to remember that most people make buying decisions subconsciously. They may not even be aware of the real reasons behind the purchase, so asking them may not give you the answers you need.
People process large chunks of information that influence their behavior without being aware of it. The technique is called “priming,” and can significantly affect subsequent decisions. The trick is to figure out what content (images, text, videos) will influence your audience in the right direction.
The best way to do this is by observing how your target audience reacts or responds to your content, and analyzing the results. Some of the scientific tools used to get this type of information include eye tracking and other biometric markers, which shows the subliminal way people use digital content. Eye tracking studies show how your content arrangement can influence how people scan a page.
The infamous F-pattern
Physical reactions are the measure of success (or lack thereof) of your story, which can help you improve your strategy. However, you need a healthy dose of human psychology knowhow to understand what makes your clients tick.
Why Stories Really Sell
In storytelling, you tap into something called paredolia, or the tendency of people to personify objects and assign meaning to them. We see human faces in cornflakes or Mars, simply because our brains subconsciously look for patterns in order to find meaning.
Stories are one type of pattern that people quickly recognize and accept, because it is part of their psychology. Stories stimulate different parts of the brain depending on the nature of the story. When you make your story personal, it is easier to remember because you make your audience the center of the story. Remember Kickstarter? Now you know why it is so successful.
Putting them together
Storytelling is an art, but when it comes to marketing your B2B business, you need to understand the science behind it as well. As illustrated by Kickstarter and Salesforce, storytelling is a powerful marketing tool if you know how to trigger the right emotional responses. When the art and science of digital storytelling come together, you are better able to reach and retain your audience.
Did you enjoy this great article as much as we did? Perhaps it inspired some thoughts in you? Or is this a subject that had previously fascinated you and you’d like to add some thoughts of your own? Please comment, below.
Additional reading: The Marketer’s Cocktail: Blending Psychology with Big Data
Laura Buckler is a copy, content and blog writer for a variety of businesses and niches. She has extensive experience in crafting unique content that catches the eye of every reader, ensuring optimized website appearance and increase in sales. Writing is Laura’ second love. Her first love is her family. Find her on twitter @laura_buckler
The infamous F-pattern (Source: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/9-f-pattern.jpg)
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