A funny thing happened to me while I was deciding where to post my digital marketing inspired articles for getting feedback and some exposure. During my research I discovered a large number of different storytelling platforms (some of them tell stories through text, some tell stories through images and videos). I literally got lost in this brave new world of storytelling: Medium, Explory, Zeega, Burrst, Branch, Selfish, Qwiki, Paper by Facebook, and many more of others. Then, I thought about my own blog, which I started a year ago (no idea why I stopped updating this blog), but here I am back to my blog still feeling confused about the amount of storytelling platforms out there. I got very curious (as usual) and decided to investigate this very odd phenomenon. Suddenly, I found a virtual universe of storytelling opportunities!
Earlier, I had heard of the power of story and the idea that "The audience accepts the story because, for a human, a good story always seems like a gift. But the story is actually just a delivery system for the teller’s agenda. A story is a trick for sneaking a message into the fortified citadel of the human mind".
The video above asks a great question at the end: "Why do we live in fiction? How do we become the storytelling animal?" Thinking about the answer to this question I remembered a brilliant introduction to "Crash" by J.G. Ballard: "I feel that the balance between fiction and reality has changed significantly in the past decades. Increasingly their roles are reversed. We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind – mass-merchandizing, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre-empting of any original response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent reality."
I found many interesting examples of marketers and businessmen successfully using the concept of inventing the reality and sneaking a message to a human mind through the storytelling! Just look at this brilliant storytelling commercial by Toyota - The Camry Effect. Here is another beautiful example, Coca-Cola's new corporate website aims to refresh the world through storytelling (the company has re-launched their corporate website, “Coca-Cola Journey,” as a highly visual, sharable digital magazine). And there are many more great storytelling marketing campaigns (just google it!).
You may think that storytelling always existed, especially on TV ads... BUT, the key of successful storytelling today, which allow you to connect with your customers and get results, is the ability to engage human emotions. Clearly people do not want to hear about the products anymore. They want a good story that will help to solve their problems or reflect their moods of the day.
"Stories have the unique ability to make people feel connected - they encourage relationships, instill faith and inspire people to make a change. When done properly, storytelling is one of the most powerful tools a business owner can use". - says Tracy Fitzgerald and it's hard to disagree with her.
I also realized the Maslow's heirarchy of needs doesn't work anymore as there too many products and too many of the same products sold by different brands, retailers, whatever. The only way to stand out among competitors is to influence your audience, to influence your audience through great storytelling which allow you to build a long-term relationships with your customer - and this is the main challenge of all marketing professionals these days, in my opinion.
I really recommend watching this inspiring video below. Gary Vaynerchuk has a very interesting point of view on how marketers as storytellers are different from the marketers of the past.
In short, the way I understand it, the marketing message is not a 'message' anymore. It's a story where customers play lead roles, product and services - supporting roles. But the plot of the story is what really matters! After all, a movie is great when all components of production are engaging just perfectly. Gone are the days of selling or telling your message. It’s all about engagement now. It’s about storytelling.
Going back to my original question: why there now are so many storytelling platforms trying to capitalize on the power of story. I still don't get completely what is 'there' for storytelling platforms? Are they aiming to create a series of 'mother ship' platforms for advertising? Let's face it, display ads/banners are almost dead because they can't be shared (the click through rates for banners are really low). I think this is driving the creation of new advertising platforms where storytelling is the new marketing message. Even Facebook is developing their own platform, Paper, and I predict it's for the same purpose. In an age when people don't click on banners anymore, storytelling strategies do seem like a most effective way to go.