Digital storytelling: how to use it in content marketing

Doing content marketing (and doing it well) involves a whole series of very specific actions that also and especially involve writing. The writer must follow not only the rules of the web but also those of the Italian language, avoiding syntactical and grammatical errors, as well as spelling mistakes, and assume a style and tone of voice appropriate to both the brand and the target audience.

One writing tool that has been widely used in recent years is digital storytelling; knowing what it is and using it for content creation can help to engage and enthuse users, regardless of the communication channel used.

What is digital storytelling and how to make it effective

The word “storytelling” is composed of two distinct terms: “story”, cioè “history”, and “telling”, meaning “recounting“. In essence, then, storytelling means the recouting of a story. But of what story? More importantly, for what purpose?

In the area of content marketing, there is certainly an emphasis on telling a story that is able to generate an emotional impact on the reader so as to create a connection based on empathy and engagement. In fact, there are numerous companies that have already chosen storytelling to excite audiences through the telling of small snippets of daily life or the discovery of the human side of the brand and/or company.

The ultimate goal is to touch people’s hearts through digital content: difficult but not impossible. Moreover, the goal should not only be about selling but also, and more importantly, about retaining users who, once a strongly empathetic bridge is established, will be driven to return for even more information.

Not surprisingly, storytelling plays an instrumental role in education and training, where the use of stories aids students in understanding and facilitates learning. Precisely because of this, its full potential can be harnessed to bring out the distinctive features of a brand and make them easily usable by anyone.

Communication, therefore, is made so much easier by storytelling that it cannot be done without it when it comes to digital content. Everyone is attracted to a story, especially if it is told well and if it allows for a better understanding of certain concepts. In addition, stories personalize the message you want to spread, which is perfect for any brand that wants to make itself known to its audience.

The secret, therefore, of good digital storytelling lies in choosing interesting content related to the human and personal side of any reality to be told in a simple, empathetic and engaging way with the goal of striking users by arousing their emotions and curiosity.

How to use digital storytelling in content marketing

The Web has a weak side: it is completely abstract. Unlike a book or a newspaper, two physical and concrete means of conveying a message, the online world has a communication that is itself inevitably colder and more distant, at times less human, which could be a hindrance in making a connection with the audience.

This is why storytelling is so important for content marketing: it succeeds in bridging the gaps of impersonality typical of the Web by creating a real bridge that reduces the distance between the brand and its readers.

But how to apply the digital storytelling technique in content marketing? Here are some useful suggestions:

Defining the ideal reader/client

The first step in developing any digital project involves delineating one’s ideal reader/client, an action that is anything but trivial or obvious. In fact, a communication is successful only and only if it is addressed to a specific audience, interested in the topics covered and in line with the values conveyed.

There are, in fact, no universal communications and, therefore, suitable for everyone. In fact, creating an editorial plan at the beginning of work is for just that: to devise content aimed at hitting a well-defined target audience.

And digital storytelling is no different, indeed: in its stories, there is frequent reference to anecdotes, personal stories, and anything else that might elicit a greater emotional response from readers, who must be carefully selected to give a response.

Content that may pique the interest of a teenager will not be effective in an adult, just as talking about the beauty of the mountains will not capture the attention of sea lovers. This skimming, if done initially, will prove effective in the long run.

Choose the topics to be covered

Once the sketch of the ideal reader/customer is defined, engaging in content marketing is significantly easier. The characteristics detected will be used to answer a simple question: what to write about? The result will be the creation of interesting and useful content to achieve the final goals.

In fact, not surprisingly, content marketing is based on the definition of 3 fixed points:

  1. brand identity;
  2. buyer personas (reader/customer);
  3. goals.

If these 3 points are clear to the whole team, then content marketing will be as successful as hoped whether it’s a very short copy to pair with an image for social, or whether you decide to opt for a blog article to give users insight.

Select communication channels

Another very important point of digital storytelling concerns the choice of communication channels for conveying the message. Proceeding is not difficult-just figure out where the target audience is primarily located.

Nowadays people tend to use multiple channels at the same time and spend a lot of time on mobile devices. Consequently, it is always useful to figure out which channel prevails over the others and exploit it to tell a personal story, the backstage of an event, the creation of a particular product, and so on.

At the end of the day, the channel is certainly important, but it only becomes effective if the tone of voice is in line with the brand and the target audience. Indeed, we must always keep in mind that users trust people and not the company, so showing the human side is always a good move.

The more humane the digital storytelling, the easier it is to get an emotional response from the audience.

Digital storytelling techniques

Every writer has his or her own method for creating empathy and getting to people’s hearts, but with regard to digital storytelling specifically, there are definitely some aspects that can definitely make it more effective. Here are the basic ones:

  • use the singular: it helps the message get directly to people’s hearts, since it reduces the distance between the writer and the reader;
  • telling the truth: telling facts that never happened or a distorted reality does not pay off; in fact, it makes one lose credibility. People need to gain trust, and this is only possible if the relationship is based on transparency and sincerity;
  • insert multimedia content: the support of images and videos is very useful in digital storytelling, since they express the written message even more clearly;
  • stay true to the brand image: the content conveyed should stick to the corporate tone of voice and the interests of the target audience, as any “out-of-tune” elements could be confusing or even boring;
  • choose interesting topics: it may seem superfluous to reiterate, but choosing topics of interest to your target audience is crucial;
  • follow the times of the web: one must also keep in mind that online users have a fairly low attention span, so the key is to be brief and concise.

Choosing digital storytelling means taking advantage of a valuable weapon of seduction that, when used correctly, can really help a brand to be known, loved and followed for what it really is. A technique not to be underestimated and cultivated over time.