Experimentation & Testing
Experimentation & Testing
We asked a number of marketing experts to share their thoughts on how technology has impacted brand storytelling over the past few years. Read on to find out what we learned.
As content marketing has evolved, technology has evolved alongside it, forever changing the way that marketers communicate with their prospects and customers.
Brand storytelling has become a buzzword within the content marketing community. It’s no surprise that storytelling is a more effective way to engage consumers than hard-sell marketing copy. Stories are hard-wired into our DNA; ad copy, not so much.
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Augmented Reality (AR) technology like Google Glass is changing the way brands deliver and design stories for their audiences.
Interactive eBooks like this one from Contently provide a flexible navigation experience that allows viewers to jump between topics.
C E O A T A R M E N T D I E T R I C H
G I N I D I E T R I C H
"The past few years in brand storytelling is akin to 100 years of marketing in our grandparent’s era. It all changes so quickly and, with every iteration, we get better at it. Five years ago, video was entering the fray. Then infographics came along. Then multimedia content, including infographics you can click on and gamification and LCD lenses and Google Glass and more. The only thing we can be certain of is that technology is going to constantly challenge how we tell our stories. We have to think less about it as something new we have to learn and more about how to work with the consumers’ expectations and apply that to every interaction we create through our brand storytelling.”
F U S I O N P U B L I C R E L A T I O N S
A T D I G I T A L C O N T E N T N E X T
E D I T O R I A L D I R E C TO R
M I C H E L L E M A N A F Y
"Brand storytelling has been impacted by technology since the advent of the printing press (if not earlier). However, the pace of technological innovation—and its impact—has never been greater. From emerging devices and form-factors and formats to a near-constant influx of new social media channels, today’s marketer can’t afford to take their eye off the innovation horizon. While the fundamentals of storytelling remain the same, each of these emerging tools brings with it distinct challenges and opportunities and brand marketers must remain nimble in evaluating where to invest their time and budgets so that they can maximize the medium to best tell their brand story.”
A T D I S T I L L E D
C R E A T I V E D I R E C T O R A T V E L O C I T Y P A R T N E R S
P R E S I D E N T
B O B G E L L E R
"Technology allows brands to tell stories better than ever before. Previously, many relied on static text and images, but these lack the emotion that video can achieve or the immersiveness of interactive technologies. The different formats now available bring flexibility to tell stories in the most impactful, concise, and engaging way—enabling our content to be compelling and impactful."
H E A D O F C O N T E N T S T R A T E G Y
A D R I A S A R A C I N O
"Technology allows brands to tell stories better than ever before. Previously, the majority of us were using the written word and photos to express our point of view, but these media lack, for example, the emotion that video can achieve or the coherency interactive displays can facilitate. The different formats now available give us the flexibility to tell stories in the most impactful, concise, and engaging way—meaning our content is more useful and resonant."
C O - F O U N D E R A N D
D O U G K E S S L E R
O W N E R O F F E L D M A N C R E A T I V E
B A R R Y F E L D M A N
Interactive microsites like this one from NewsCred are one of many next-generation storytelling formats brands are using.
“It's taken too long for marketers to let go of the print paradigm. We're still doing Gutenberg-style pages online (PDFs, whitepapers, eBooks…). But slowly, we're all discovering new ways to tell digital-native, screen-optimized stories. And we're only scratching the surface. A whole new generation of storytelling formats is just around the corner.”
“Technology's made our stories more magnetic, fun and compelling. Essentially, if you can imagine it, you can create a digital party for your audience to enjoy it.”
Once upon a time, brand storytelling was confined to the realm of static text and pictures. With today’s technology, brands can now share their stories in dynamic, creative ways.
With technology like interactive videos, brand storytelling is transitioning from monolog to dialog.
Part of every brand’s story now includes social conversations like this example from HubSpot.
P R E S I D E N T A T A V A L A U N C H M E D I A
M A T T S I L T A L A
"Technology has done amazing things for brands and storytelling. We all know (or should know) how critical community involvement and community building is for a brand to survive these days. Consumers WANT to be a part of the brand experience (they want a say), and if brands don't recognize this, they will fall short. Interactive videos are a great new technology that we have been using at Avalaunch Media (for ourselves and clients) to get community involvement. You can get amazing data from these videos, and this is one of the best ways to get people active with your brand. Consumers like to tell US what THEY want nowadays ... not the other way around.”
A T E V E R Y O N E S O C I A L
S T R A T E G I C C O M M U N I C A T I O N S , L L C
L I N D A P O P H A L , C E O & C O N S U L T A N T
"I think there are two key impacts of technology on brand storytelling: the ability to move beyond ‘brochureware’ to incorporate sight, sound, movement and interaction to engage consumers and, closely related, the opportunity for two-way engagement with the audience. This represents both opportunities and challenges for marketers. The opportunities include the ability to make a greater impact with your messaging; the challenges are that others have the same opportunity so marketers must be continually—and increasingly—looking for ways to break out from the clutter and the ability for consumers to engage directly raises concerns about potential negative comments. I believe, though, that the opportunities far outweigh the potential negatives and many successful marketers are proving this to be the case.”
A T C O N T E N T 4 D E M A N D
A T T O P R A N K O N L I N E M A R K E T I N G
C E O
L E E O D D E N
C E O & C O - F O U N D E R
E R I C R O A C H
"Technology has become pervasive in everything we do today as individuals and companies. When it comes to brand storytelling, technology has democratized the conversation as social platforms, forums and communities give individuals greater influence on how brands and their products and services are perceived. This has necessitated the shift of brand storytelling from one-to-many to one-to-one and why brands are empowering their employees to be part of the social conversation in authentic and genuine ways.”
C O N T E N T D I R E C T O R
A N D R E W G A F F N E Y
"We've seen the way stories are told shifting, and technology is playing a big part in that shift. It's no longer enough for brands to provide a one-way monologue in their storytelling. They now need to engage buyers in a conversational dialogue, where they are enabling buyers to interact with content based on their areas of interest, and collect information that is directly relevant to their needs. Also, any good story should be worth re-telling, so we are seeing interactive content that is easily accessible and shareable via social networks having a big impact on campaign success.”
K E Y N O T E S P E A K E R A N D B E S T S E L L I N G A U T H O R
D A V I D M E E R M A N S C O T T
“There’s no question that the biggest influence in brand storytelling is the rise of real-time engagement. Now storytelling is not just content you create for the future. Instead it is right now, live, and in the moment—the exact same way that people research organizations and buy products.”
“Brand publishers are maturing their ability to connect directly with audiences through content hubs and owned media vs. having to go through publishers to advertise. At the same time, tech is leading consumers to expect more from brands: from richer experiences across channels to becoming a part of the brand story itself. These changes in technology and consumer behaviors have shifted the focus from storytelling about the brand to brandividuals creating stories about themselves and what they care about. The opportunity is for brands to connect and co-create stories with their audiences in new, meaningful ways that inspire participation and engagement. I like to call it, "participation marketing".
Technology has enabled marketers to do more than just publish stories online. Now, brand storytellers can have conversations with readers and invite them to participate in the stories they’re telling.
Forever 21 capitalized on user-generated stories and technology with their Instagram thread screen.
Brand content sites like The Red Bulletin use sight, sound, and emotion to connect with their viewers.
Brand storytelling is happening in bite-sized chunks on sites like Vine. Both marketers and their brand advocates contribute to the story.
Anyone, anywhere can now publish content online through platforms like Medium, Apple News, and LinkedIn Pulse.
S T O R Y T E L L E R
J O N A T H A N C R O S S F I E L D
"While tech can make production easier, no device or widget can replace the basic principles of storytelling that have held true for centuries. Where tech has driven change is by making it easier for people to skip, delete, unsubscribe and otherwise avoid marketing and advertising. The audience is in control. This disruption has made it essential for brands to tell unmissable stories that people genuinely want to read/watch/listen — whether on the latest digital platform or in a traditional print publication.”
B O A R D O F D I R E C T O R S,
N A V I G A T E B O O M E R M E D I A
N A N C Y P A D B e R G, M B A
"Technology has allowed seamless brand storytelling several ways: 1. Ease of use. You can access the content across all of your digital devices. 2. Sight. Sound. Emotion. Video allows engagement of the senses and appeals to many as most are visual learners. Great for sizzle reels, testimonials and product walkthroughs. 3. The Internet of Things. You can stay connected with your favorite brands continuously whether following on social media, in your home, using the brand/product, or reading an article about it on its website.”
A T C R E A T I V E C I R C L E
V P O F M A R K E T I N G
M I C H A E L W E I S S
"Stories used to be told around campfires, the kitchen table or at bedtime; storytelling had its place and time. Now with technology, social media and CMS solutions, we are telling stories 24/7. Over the past five years, every brand has finally realized how important it is to tell a story—because stories engage and differentiate. Technologies such as WordPress, Twitter, Instagram, etc. have empowered brands to no longer rely on IT departments to publish. Technology has allowed storytelling has become realtime.”
W R I T E R , E D I T O R , A N D C O N T E N T M A R K E T E R
F O U N D E R & C E O A T A U D I E N C E B L O O M
J A Y S O N D E M E R S
"Mobile devices and new social media apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, and other image-based channels have not only made it easier to share visual-oriented content, but made the ability available to pretty much everyone. As a result, technology has made brand storytelling happen in much more bite-sized chunks, more visually-oriented, and more accessible to anyone at any time.”
A T G A G G L E
D I R E C T O R O F C O N T E N T M A R K E T I N G A T E V E R S T R I N G
M E R Y L K . E V A N S
"As companies adopt new technology, some let it get in the way of telling their story much like a website using Flash gratuitously. Because of this, there is a need for greater emphasis on the user experience. If technology disrupts the experience and frustrates the user, then the story gets lost.”
V P O F M A R K E T I N G
R O B Y O E G E L
"Technology will never replace a great story, but can enhance it by allowing marketers to plan, curate and distribute more effectively. Think about the business outcome you expect or want to achieve by using any technology.”
D A Y N A R O T H M A N
F O U N D E R O F C O N T E N T M A R K E T I N G I N S T I T U T E
J O E P U L I Z Z I
“Technology has greatly impacted how people consume content. Not only do buyers expect your content to be high quality, but they also expect it to be accessible across multiple devices, personalized, and interactive. I think technology will continue to impact content consumption, especially as technology like the Internet of Things becomes more integrated into your buyer's everyday lives.”
“Today, there are no technology barriers to publishing. Anyone, anywhere can publish consistently and create an audience. At the same time, consumers have 24/7 access to any and all information on the planet. This powerful combination has changed the face of marketing, and why content marketing is now at the forefront of every CMO's agenda. No longer do we need large budgets to reach the right people and the right time.”
The way viewers engage with brand stories has changed drastically over the past few years due to advances in technology.
Brands like BuzzFeed are using Snapchat and other social apps to connect with fans, augmenting traditional advertising channels.
With video streaming apps like Periscope, Meerkat, and Blab, brands like Red Bull can now share their stories in real time.
Social media has ushered in a “new era” of visual storytelling. Brands like GE are utilizing channels like Instagram to great effect.
“Video is where it’s at”—as evidenced by the proliferation of video ads and posts by brands like Kate Spade.
S T A F F W R I T E R A T M T V N E W S
A L I N A B R A D F O R D
"Technology has made brand storytelling much easier and affordable. To get your story out there you no longer need to pay for expensive TV ads. Viral videos, Vines and Snapchats can get the same message across for free.”
A U T H O R A N D O W N E R O F S A R K - E M E D I A
S A R A H A R R O W
"I’ve seen a significant increase in visual storytelling with the technology making it easier than ever. When I first started marketing my business, an infographic was the entire marketing budget, and now there’s software available where you can create one for your website on a regular basis with little or no design skills. Tools like Canva Work enable small business owners to brand visuals quickly and easily in order to compete with brands that have significant marketing budgets. Technology is levelling the playing field when it comes to storytelling and more organisations will be able to use the tech to create their story and share it.”
A T Z U M P E R
A T T H E C O N T E N T W R A N G L E R
F O U N D E R O F M Y B L O G U . C O M
A N N S M A R T Y
"Visual storytelling has become available to smaller brands: Creating videos and stunning visuals no longer requires huge budgets. Real-time storytelling has become possible: First Twitter, then Google Hangouts on Air, and now Periscope and other broadcasting platforms have made it possible for brands to tell their stories in real time and generate an instant reaction and feedback”
C I T Y M A R K E T I N G M A N A G E R
A L L Y G R E E R
"Exactly 5 years ago this October, a nifty little app called Instagram launched. To me, that was the beginning of the next generation of storytelling, both brand and personal. Since the launch of this photo-only app, internet users have gravitated toward easy-to-digest, visually pleasing content. We all know what happened next: SlideShare, Snapchat, Vine, Instagram Video; I could continue forever. As consumers increase their use of image-centric technology, brand storytelling has had to adapt as well. When was the last time you saw a story told with just words? 5 years ago.”
C H I E F W R A N G L E R
S C O T T A B E L
C E O O F M A X I M I Z E Y O U R S O C I A L
N E A L S C H A F F E R
“Video is where it’s at. And, video technology has made it possible for anyone, almost anywhere to be a storyteller. But, we’re not very good at it. Motion picture and television studios have been telling stories convincingly for a century. We can learn a lot from these professional storytellers who understand that if the voice (the actual human voice) of the story isn’t believable, the story will flop. We’re novices in this space and need to understand that in a global market, we need to produce multilingual video stories. Stories resonate most effectively when they are delivered in a believable fashion, by a voice that sounds appropriate for the part, and in the language of the viewer — the language they speak and understand best: their own.
“Technology has allowed anyone to tell their story with more visual impact quicker, easier, and with greater reach through the proliferation of social media, interactive features of social networks, and paid social offerings.”
Technology has fueled viewers’ preference for stories with images, animated graphics, and videos.
Dove delivered “stories worth sharing” in their Real Beauty Sketches, which drove massive social buzz and widespread critical acclaim.
Even advertising content is starting to become personalized. Streaming services like Hulu now allow users to choose which ad they prefer to view.
Instead of interrupting content experiences with advertising, Dockers opted to create a style guide their shoppers would find valuable.
A U T H O R A N D S P E A K E R
A T B R A I N S H A R K
A T K A P O S T
C O R H O S P E S
"For many many years, brands were not thinking in terms of content marketing and storytelling because they were busy with their good old traditional marketing. It was also a time in which content was called stories. Brands now finally realize that the world has changed. Their familiar pose of marketing play is no longer working. Advertising has lost its power, the media landscape is fragmented. Consumers set the rules. They determine where, when, and how they read or watch stories from brands. That idea cramped companies. They thought that they have to be present everywhere online, simply because these channels were available for free. Instead of thinking who is exactly our audience, what are their needs and what is their media behavior. As a result, they filled digital channels haphazardly with stories that nobody was waiting for, without any strategy. Brands weren’t thinking as publishers. It’s not about technology. It’s not about channels. It’s about your audience and how to serve them and give them stories that are worth sharing.”
D I R E C T O R O F C O N T E N T M A R K E T I N G
B R E N D A N C O U R N O Y E R
"Content strategy is about more than just inbound, top-of-the-funnel interactions. Technology now makes it easier for salespeople to become more involved in the storytelling process. They can seamlessly access the right content at every stage of the buyer’s journey, making it easier for brands to tell a more consistent story from the first click all the way to a closed deal.”
C E O A N D C O - F O U N D E R
T O B Y M U R D O C K
H E A D O F S T R A T E G Y A T N E W S C R E D
M I C H A E L B R E N N E R
“As brands learn more about their audiences through technology, they have become more personalized with their storytelling; creating persona-based content and using audience insights to develop content readers actually want and can use."
“Technology has allowed consumers to tune out more and more traditional approaches to marketing. We skip ads, we watch movies on Netflix, we've been ignoring banner ads for some time, but now we have technology to block them completely. And so brands are realizing that we have to stop interrupting consumer content experiences and deliver the content people actually want. Sometimes this takes the form of deep, emotional or even funny stories. Other times, it just comes in the form of basic answers to simple questions. Brands are becoming the media. It's a publish or perish future.”
Technology has enabled marketers to tailor stories for specific audience members based on distribution channel, demographic information, and engagement with their brand.
Brands like the Dallas Cowboys are testing new platforms like interactive biographies to tell stories.
o p e r a t i o n s A T S K Y W O R D
A T L A T T I C E E N G I N E S
S E N I O R C O N T E N T M A R K E T I N G M A N A G E R
D I R E C T O R O F M A R K E T I N G
A D A M V A V R E K
"Technology has made it easier for brands to tell more stories more efficiently in a variety of formats. For example, content marketing platforms have streamlined high-quality, original editorial and video content creation by inserting the creative process into the software, simplifying organization and collaboration. Technology allows brands to discover and connect with influential storytellers from all over the world to distribute their knowledge and expertise.”
A M A N D A M A K S Y M I W
V P O F C O N T E N T A T C O N T E N T L Y
S A M S L A U G H T E R
“Technology is giving all marketers the opportunity to create and experiment with new formats to tell their brand stories. In a sense it levels the playing field and gives the chance to test new platforms to see what works best in terms of creating and sharing the stories.”
“Technology has started to make brand storytelling infinitely more agile. Brands, marketers, agencies, and media companies have always worked to adapt the story they're telling (and the way it’s told) to their customers' values. With the rise of digital media platforms and the technology that supports them, brands now have the ability to tell those stories directly to their audience, and capture real-time data that shows them exactly what stories are resonating. That means a shift away from the 'agency of record' campaign model, and towards something that looks more like a very advanced, tech-enabled publisher.”
Marketers now have a variety of content formats and distribution channels to experiment with to discover which ones resonate best with their audiences.
Hiscox found that “personality, empathy, and point of view are the stories of the day" in their web series, Leap Year.
A T R A V E N T O O L S
C E O O F P E A K C O M M U N I C A T I O N S
C O N T E N T M A R K E T I N G S P E C I A L I S T
N A T H A N B A K E R
"As a culture, we value stories. Just look at the resurgence of quality shows on TV. As all of our attention spans decrease, telling engaging stories is more important than ever. We need powerful stories to connect with current and new fans. As we've evolved as storytellers, so has our technology. Our stories are becoming more immersive and three dimensional. We no longer are limited by rudimentary tools.”
C O - F O U N D E R A N D
J E F F D O M A N S K Y
C E O O F G E T S T O R I E D
M I C H A E L M A R G O L I S
“The fundamentals of storytelling never change. Any great story, whether a brand or personal story, needs to make an emotional connection with the audience. That's why brands talking about themselves never works. New technology has created opportunities but also placed barriers in between storytellers and our audiences. Today's storytellers need to be tech or tool-savvy to ensure the emotional connection is still made with our audiences. So whether you're using tools like SlideShare, Animoto or YouTube, you still need an emotional connection whether your goal is to market, inform, educate or entertain, And it better be responsive for mobile!”
“Character trumps credentials. Technology is breaking down the walls that separate a brand and its audience. There's a shift from corporatize to humanize. Which means personality, empathy, and point of view are the stories of the day."
Technology has made it easier—and in many ways, harder—for brand storytellers to make an emotional connection with their audience.
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