By Dave McGurgan
As the Internet becomes increasingly visual and more content is consumed via mobile devices, brands and marketers are reacting by spending more time telling stories.
As marketing evolves away from traditional one-way messaging (e.g., “Here’s my billboard with my marketing message”), storytelling is becoming more commonplace as consumers expect to have connections with their favorite brands and products via the social web and mobile devices.
Storytelling is a fundamental way to communicate a wide variety of meanings: Stories can communicate values, convey emotions, and make persuasive arguments (e.g., “Here’s why you should buy my stuff”).
Within the context of storytelling, marketers first need to be able to convey the who, what, and why of their product, brand, and/or experience. Secondly, marketers need to be able to provide their audience with a value proposition; more specifically, their storytelling needs to answer the following question: “What’s in it for me?”
ABPV: Always be providing value
Storytellers and marketers who create content and narratives should aim to provide value by ensuring they create stories and experiences that resonate with their target audience.
With an abundance of web tools and mobile apps and the ability to create high-quality photo and video content with a mobile phone, storytelling can often be done very inexpensively, which is great for small- to medium-sized businesses who may have modest and slim budgets.
Our go-to storytelling tools: All are free!
Steller hits the sweet spot for visual storytelling: It’s a mobile-based app that uses photos, video, and text to create stories. With both preset themes and customization options, there are many ways to create stunning visually-based stories that are sleek and engaging.
From a user’s perspective, consuming stories on Steller is totally intuitive thanks to its flipbook layout and swipe navigation. Check out this guide to creating stories to create your first Steller and have a look at this inspiring recap of a year-end student art show by
Storify is one of our absolute favorite storytelling tools because it’s so easy to use and “make the web tell stories.” With Storify, you can quickly curate and assemble web pages, social posts and images to create a story and narrative.
Storify is especially useful around live events such as conferences when there is an engaged audience, online discussions, and lots of social sharing. For example, we have been using Storify for several years to build recaps of conferences and live events. Usually, there’s a tremendous amount of information and knowledge being shared at these type of events. Here’s a great example of Storify being used to cover an annual Health IT conference organized by the ONC.
By capturing, curating, and repurposing the key takeaways from events and highlighting content shared by participants, presenters, and attendees, you can build amazingly powerful stories. Plus you can turn around stories on Storify rapidly and get your content out ahead of traditional media, trade publications, and often times the event organizers themselves.
For those who suffer from PowerPoint fatigue, there’s a great alternative. Haiku Deck is a super easy tool to use that allows you to create dazzling presentations on the web, iPad, and iPhone. Haiku Deck’s strength lies in its simplicity and clarity.
It’s easy to come up with professional designs without a designer or requiring a team to build a persuasive deck and presentation. Every time we share a presentation made with Haiku Deck, the reception is overwhelmingly positive on both the quality and the content of the presentation.
Here’s a Haiku Deck we developed to showcase Four Dog Creative as a strategic partner with other creative agencies:
Written storytelling tools
While WordPress has become one of the most popular blogging platforms and content management systems, it can be unnecessarily overwhelming for the layperson just looking to publish a blog post.
For straight-up blogging, Medium is a great platform because it strips out almost every unnecessary aspect of publishing for the web and makes it super easy to focus on creating killer content.
Make no mistake, Medium is designed for people who are already good at writing. Its utilitarian nature is a winner. But if you struggle to come up with the right words, Medium may not be your best bet. That said, if you’re a storyteller who is comfortable with writing and publishing for the web, Medium is great because it’s ridiculously easy to use and your audience will love you as consuming content on Medium is near effortless.
Medium is free. Can’t go wrong there.
Oftentimes, when we write, we unconsciously use unnecessary language, drop in clichés, or make what we’re trying to say needlessly complex. A good storyteller will not frustrate their audience and the Hemingway Editor promises to make your writing bold and clear.
Hemingway Editor is good at stripping out complex words and sentences and making the copy much easier to read. You can compose in Hemingway for recommendations on the fly or drop in the content you’ve already created.
There’s a $9.99 price tag associated with the Hemingway Editor, but it’s a one-time fee and minimal investment in a tool that can improve the clarity of your writing.
While word processors offer many of these same functions, Grammarly claims that it uses context to help you choose the most appropriate suggestions for correcting your writing mistakes. Plus it’s portable and will work anywhere on the web.
Grammarly is a killer Chrome add-on and desktop app that helps correct writing mistakes that you may not even be aware you’re making. It’s fueled by a powerful grammar checking algorithm, but all you need to know is as you type, it’ll help identify grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, and poor vocabulary.
Grammarly is a freemium tool and their basic plan may cover your needs. Their premium pricing unlocks a variety of different features which are especially helpful for those with heavy writing workloads.