The power of digital storytelling: Your storytelling style


This is the second of a three-part series.

The Power of Storytelling begins with defining your story. It may be clear from the start, or it may develop over time.

What’s wonderful about digital storytelling is the number of ways we can tell our stories. Each of us has a wide range of channels, voices and brands to use, whether we’re narrating for ourselves or on behalf of a company.

We use so many channels each day without thinking about them. Perhaps the one we’re most familiar with is blogging. Someone who puts together two posts a week will have 100 posts within a year, a great way to tell many facets of a story.

But blogs aren’t the only way we can tell stories online. Twitter can be an excellent medium for storytellers. One example is how Birmingham’s David Griner took his great aunt’s diary from living on a Missouri farm as a girl in the 1930s and tweeted it as @Genny_Spencer.

Another example is Justin Halpern, who tweets his father’s rants as @shitmydadsays, which became both a book and a CBS sitcom.

When I challenge marketers to use Twitter for content marketing, I ask them to tell their story in 10,000 tweets. It’s daunting, because no one typically breaks a story into two-sentence snippets. But when tweeting over the course of a year, a company can have 10,000 tweets that collectively share the theme and the narrative.

Whether you the storyteller use 100 blog posts, 10,000 tweets or 1,000 Instagram photos over a year, you need to look ahead with an editorial calendar. This will keep you on track, on time and on message.

Your voice is another important element in how you tell stories online. It can vary from post to post or channel to channel. It can be a brand’s voice, as told by you and your colleagues, or it can many voices telling the same narrative.

For many bloggers starting out, it is voice that needs the most work. You shape that voice over months and years, growing in confidence as you experiment and fail. Coming from a long career of reporting and writing, I’ve had many opportunities to develop a distinct and flexible voice that I use through multiple channels and projects.

Experiment with using your voice to convey different tones, moods, messages and subjects. Push your boundaries so you can discover styles you haven’t tried before.

I have found that more voices bring more diversity to a story, allowing for more readers to identify with a brand. If all contributors share the same mission and theme, the variations make the story stronger overall.

Keep your brand in mind as you tell your story. By the way, brand is based on others’ perception, no matter how carefully you portray it. Each channel could have its distinct flavor, meaning fans will see your blog as one reflection of your brand while your Facebook page as another.

Your brand can be better defined by your online storytelling skills. Over time, fans may have a deeper understanding and loyalty to your work based on their interaction with you and with community members. Are they interacting with your narrative? Are they helping to shape it?

Through such actions, they become more invested in the story. A great example is a contest held by my client, Freshfully, an online grocer and bricks-and-mortar market in Birmingham.

The Freshfully Facebook page held a cute chickens photo contest, bringing in more than 60 entries. Each participant adding something to the narrative of being invested in where food comes from. And it reflected the brand’s sense of fun.

Storytelling gives companies and bloggers so many options in how to engage audiences. By exploring these channels, voices and brands, we can keep building the narrative for a very long time.

Photo: John Ward (CC)

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About Wade Kwon

Wade Kwon is conference director for Y'all Connect. See his full bio.

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