By Peter Christopher Lutta
Storytelling has always been a facet of human evolution. It’s that intrinsic human characteristic that has allowed people through the ages to communicate about events that can stir up their imagination. Archaeologists will tell you that the first type of storytelling was through visual stories which were evidenced by cave drawings of early men. As centuries passed, storytelling was later illustrated through oral traditions, and these were stories that were passed from one generation to another by word of mouth. Even in this 21st century, these oral traditions in form of legends, proverbs, myths, poems, riddles, folk songs, tales, nursery rhymes and more, are still part of us today since they teach us a lot about life eliciting emotional responses that can enable us to live better lives.
With oral traditions still being used up today, we’re also in a modern age of technology and storytelling has also progressed with the trend. This is where we introduce digital storytelling. Digital storytelling is more about using multimedia tools to bring narratives to life. Multimedia tools like video, text, images and audio have been used to narrate stories to people online. These stories are shared over YouTube, compact discs, podcasts, social media, and other electronic distribution systems.
As an entrepreneur, a company or even an NGO, the desire to build a connection with your audience online and establish a firm social presence can best be done through storytelling. Storytelling can be used to advertise your products/services, discuss industry topics, or even carry out interviews to get factual information about a particular subject. But how best can you effectively tell your story and always keep your audience glued to the purpose you’re trying to enlighten them with? I have chosen six different ways you can actively interact with your audience through your stories.
Animation as a form of digital storytelling has been the first on this list because graphics designers are underrated and yet they deserve credit for what they do. Creating beautiful animations to bring a story to life is no easy task and it’s only experienced graphics designers that can do that. Through a balance of discipline and a high level of artistry, an animator can use various design elements in a particular design program and then create a motion sequence of shapes and images that people can watch and be able to understand from a storytelling perspective. Hire a professional animator, and who knows, he/she might turn your business around with the perfect story you’ve always wanted.
Documentaries fall under the video category of digital storytelling. We all know the impact that video has on storytelling. People process moving images faster than text, and documentaries can be a perfect example in this case. There are indeed some documentaries that are fun to watch and others, they’re such a bore they become a catalyst for sleep. This brings us to the script for your documentary. You can’t just go out in the field and start shooting people aimlessly. You need to have that well-refined script for your documentary that can guide you on how best you can bring out your story. Enough time should be invested in making the script which has voice-overs, the people you will interview, the questions you will ask, and also the perfect angle that you think your documentary will interest the viewers. Producing a documentary needs a dedicated team, each with a task for the documentary’s completion.
If you’re the kind of person that enjoys doing chores while listening to something productive, a podcast would be the right kind of content to look out for. A podcast is an audio digital file uploaded by a podcaster on the internet and it’s made available for download to subscribers. Podcasts can be for various purposes such as entertaining the audience, talking about current events, talking about life topics and other examples. Podcasts also come in different formats where we have interview podcasts, conversational podcasts, educational podcasts, solo podcasts, and storytelling news podcasts among other examples. You can decide on which type of podcast you would want to adopt and focus on topics about your business or the industry that you operate in. Choose topics with interesting stories that you think your audience would be excited to hear about. Podcasting, however, needs consistency hence you need to commit yourself to how often you can release an episode since viewers are always eager to listen to the next episode.
Adverts also fall under the category of video in digital storytelling. They are usually short video clips promoting a product/service to convince a prospective customer to purchase that product/service. For years, companies have used adverts to narrate compelling stories that can capture the audience’s attention. Companies like Pepsi have mastered the art of storytelling through adverts and people can’t help but enjoy the ad and subconsciously find themselves buying a Pepsi soda. Just like documentaries, to produce a good advert, you need a script that can guide you on how you want your advert to run. You may not have a budget like Pepsi to make an advert with celebrities like Beyonce, but you can creatively use the resources you have to create a fair advert for social media, one that’s entertaining enough to engage your audience online.
Dr Seuss, an American author, poet and filmmaker once said, “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Books are filled with a lot of knowledge and experiences that people are ignorant about simply because most of them don’t like reading. But as a person who is dedicated to sharing your company’s story with your audience, you need to encourage that audience to read the content that you upload on your website. This requires you to invest time in learning how to be a good writer, writing about topics that would be interesting to read about. The first blog you write may not be that catchy but the more you practice your writing skills and also come up with better topics, one day you will have a green light and your audience would always be checking what blog you’ve uploaded. Practice being a progressive writer and not a perfect one.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s digital storytelling described from the photography perspective. Imagine looking at your photo when you were 7 years old in a school uniform. The memories that you can think about at that moment can be immense. Photos create memories creating that emotional connection with people. Therefore, if you want to emotionally connect with your audience online, take good photos of events, your fellow employees, and participants for your projects and share them online because it’s in those photos that your audience would like to know the story behind them stirring up their imagination. In that way, they will be compelled to engage with you based on the photo that you’ve shared.
As I conclude, the question goes back to you, how best do you want to tell your story? Your audience is waiting for your story and it’s up to you to decide on the most effective way in which you think you can share your story for a huge positive impact on your company. Good luck!