Digital Storytelling - how brands can play a leading role

Digital Storytelling - how brands can play a leading role
  • David, together we are going to discuss digital storytelling on Saturday, March 12th at 9.30 am in the German Haus at SXSW.


    Could you please describe the opportunities storytelling in the web is offering for brands?

  • Thanks for having me here, Irmela.


    Storytelling keeps getting more interesting thanks to the new ways people interact with media, and the expanded tools for producing all kinds of stories, be they short or long, or text-only or using immersive 360-degree video. A major opportunity is what I like to call storymaking, where instead of just telling stories, brands build on the stories that their customers have with their products.

  • That sounds interesting: Do you have an example to share what storymaking is exactly?


  • I have lots of examples, which I collect in the Storymaking Bible. Consider Coca-Cola putting people's names on cans, as a trigger for people to not just buy them but buy them for friends and share photos of the cans. They literally turned empty cans from trash into keepsakes and sugar water from cheap refreshments into souvenirs. That's storymaking.

  • That´s a great example! For me it shows that storytelling and storymaking isn´t only a digital thing - it works offline, too! What value digital and social channels are adding in? 

  • It does work offline as well as online. But digital is at the center. Digital is interactive, after all. The whole nature of hyperlinks is that they can take people in call kinds of directions, and in a far more convoluted way than one could ever do by switching channels or browsing store aisles or flipping through pages in a magazine. The value social in particular brings is that it's all about conversation, so there's a natural mechanism for people to tell their own stories. 

  • Sounds good! But isn´t it also challenging for brands allowing "people to tell their own stories" through their brand? What do you recommend?

  • Yes, it is a challenge and it's why most marketing won't shift this way. A lot of the best storymaking campaigns are based on insights about what customers are already doing with a marketer's products or others in the category. For instance, Starbucks created blank red holiday cups in part to acknowledge how patrons decorate cups in their own way. And many such patrons share those cups in social channels, giving the brand a behavior they can observe and encourage.

  • That´s an interesting point! At our discussion in German Haus we also want to talk about social video that is more and more becoming a killer application in the web. Do you know about some good brand cases for social video?

  • So much of what brands are doing now centers around video. YouTube notched more than 10 billion video views daily, Facebook is nearing them, and Snapchat just said 8 billion, so we're easily in the range of 1 trillion video views monthly - more than 10 trillion video views annually. Now, not all of that is social in the truest sense of the word. Put a TV ad on YouTube and it's a TV ad with a like button on it. But a lot of video marketers are creating - using far more than the three platforms singled out here - are designed to be optimal for where they're running. It's what the whole craze around native advertising is all about, but native shouldn't just be about ads. We should be talking about native marketing more -- creating media specifically for the channels where people will consume and share it.

  • Talking of platforms: What kind of platforms are interesting and what about the live streaming Periscope and Facebook Live is offering? 


  • There is no shortage of interesting platforms. Live streaming has been a hot topic this year, especially since SXSW 2015 was when Meerkat and Periscope rekindled interest in the technology. Now, it's one more option available to brands big and small, whether to do directly or to tap influential people who have their own fan base, predominantly through Periscope today but increasingly on Facebook Live as well. Most brands don't need to livestream all the time though, so it's still early in terms of figuring out the right value proposition. 

  • The other really interesting platforms are in virtual reality right now, from Google Cardboard to Samsung's Gear VR to Facebook's Oculus Rift. VR is now a part of so many of the tech installations and branded experiences out here. It's a good show to test it out and see what can be done. I wish the lines were a little shorter for some of these though, as it takes people a while to put on the gear, go through the experience, and transition to the next person. Perhaps next year, everyone will be walking around with VR headsets on the whole time. Perhaps not though.

  • Sounds like a lot of new and exciting opportunities for brands - let´s see what the future brings! Thanks so much, David, for the chat here on Replyall and the great conversation we had at German Haus! 

  • Thanks so much in return to you and the enter German Haus team for creating such a memorable SXSW experience and bringing incredible people together there.