We are all storytellers

We are all storytellers… or should be. That was the message from today’s Digital Storytelling conference by Media Trust (see the #DigiStorytelling conference Storify for highlights and curated tweets by Seen) . I picked up lots of inspiring examples and tips to encourage us all to become effective storytellers.

Moroccan storyteller surrounded by avid listeners

Storyteller with captive audience in Marrakesh

Unlike the Moroccan storyteller above, digitally you probably only have 10seconds or less to engage someone in your story. So you’d better pull people in pretty quickly. A good story has:

  • clear, compelling narrative
  • emotional resonance
  • aesthetic pleasure.

But it is also authentic, appropriate for the medium and has a purpose. Most of the conference was focussed on the story rather than the medium. But two channels came out as strong deliverers of story.

Blogging

There was a lot of talk about blogging at the conference. The main example which stood out was mental health campaigning charity Time to Change. They hand over their digital voice to volunteer bloggers very prominently. They work to facilitate the sharing of real experience, opinion and emotion by allowing bloggers to write directly and people to respond with comments. This is so much more powerful, engaging and real than a case study. Here’s just one great example: Blogging about mental health has given me a way to talk.

Blogging about mental health

I don’t know of many other charities who hand over this space so confidently (albeit with some editing and pre-moderation of comments). Please do share, if you know of others.

Video

We all know about YouTube. You make a video, add it to your channel, tweet about it, get some views, job done. But it is now much more than this. It is about participation. Apparently (according to YouTube) it is the fastest growing social network in the world. To get it right, you need to engage with YouTube stars. These are the people with 20,000 followers. You need them to help you reach the millions out there. This isn’t about going viral but surfing on an existing network.

You also need to be a regular contributor, adding new engaging and interesting videos often. They don’t have to be slick or expensive. They don’t have to be corporate. Use the authentic voices from around your organisation.

Here are some examples of YouTube storytelling:

And here’s a nice example of video blogging by Diabetes UK: Diaz tells her own story.

Twitter?

Can you tell a story in 140 characters? Yes, you can write powerfully, you can engage, draw people in to make them to want read more or watch a video.  This tweet from Shelter uses 15 words to tell a story: “It’s hit us really, really hard.’ Karen, Gary & their 3 young children are homeless.”

'It's hit us really, really hard.

You can now use instantly appearing images tell your story. This tweet stood out as the picture of three medals and a poppy was so striking. Tweet says: “Medals,tick. Shoes,tick. Ready march with pride with @oneeyedsi66. Cenotaph Sunday will be humbling @BlindVeterans”

medals and poppy tweet

If you want to tell a longer story, use #hashtags. See Walsall Council’s Hour Day as a great example.

Get storytelling

So the future is authentic and engaging digital storytelling. Take a look at your own tweets / videos / blogs – are they compelling, insightful and emotional? Do you need to go back to basics? It can be real skill to get this right.

There are a few guides and experts out there to help:

Other examples

Please do share other examples, guides or tips about digital storytelling and the difference is has made to the way you communicate about your organisation.

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One thought on “We are all storytellers

  1. Pingback: Use storytelling and fun to inspire action | madlinsudn blog

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