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Digital storytelling tips to engage your customers

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Storytelling has become a buzzword in recent years, especially as it relates to brand marketing. Companies can no longer rely mainly on press releases, ads and media coverage to tell their narratives and establish trust with audiences. These mediums do part of the work to get messages out to market, but alone they don’t create moments of connection with consumers the way storytelling can.

The Content Marketing Institute reports that 70% of consumers prefer getting to know brands through articles rather than ads, pointing to the fact that telling compelling narratives through content is effective in part because we, as humans, are naturally drawn to stories that reveal more about who we're buying from and why it matters.

Effective brand storytelling entails explaining why your business exists and communicating the values it represents. By shaping a company’s identity in this very personal way, businesses hope to inspire emotional reactions with their consumers. Gallup found that consumers with strong emotional connections to retailers will visit their stores 32% more often and spend 46% more money than customers who lack emotional bonds.

Social responsibility, too, has become an important driver of brand storytelling, with 71% of U.S. millennials hoping companies will take the lead on the social issues they find important. It's more relevant than ever to use stories to meet customers' expectations by showing your organization's values and how they are being realized.  

A new era for storytelling

In the digital age, brand storytelling is upleveled to digital storytelling. Now, narratives must travel across owned, earned and paid content; translate to every channel, from desktop to mobile; and even be able to go offline to print content or in-store experiences.

Brightspot has helped leading companies like Walmart, the Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson master the art of brand storytelling. Businesses with the ability to tell and share stories in the digital age will deliver greater ROI through deeper customer engagement and brand awareness.

Digital storytelling pitfalls to avoid

There are a number of challenges that marketers and editors face in telling cohesive digital stories. Audiences today expect to see the same story across multiple platforms but the key is to ensure consistency but also provide differentiation by platform; a story published on your corporate site but then pushed out via LinkedIn or on Instagram will look and perform differently for each of those respective mediums.

"Meet people where they're at," is how Dan Kneeshaw, Senior Director of Digital Strategy Brand Engagement at Walmart, characterized this during a recent Brightspot webinar discussing corporate communications in the age of COVID-19. "You have to think about where people are getting their information, and how to get it to them in the right manner."

With the availability of ubiquitous devices and demand for instant and rapidly up-to-date information, the expectation is for communication teams to be always on. However, brands often rush to create a large amount of content, leading to disorganization and variable quality.

Internal disorganization can also cause problems, as organizations are often using multiple CMS solutions that all contribute to different messaging, design styles and publishing approaches. This can even lead teams to quarrel over brand harmony and engage in turf wars. In a Bain & Company survey, a quarter of respondents in North America blamed lack of integration for holding back marketing efforts.

As more brands recognize the importance of producing content as part of a brand story, the digital marketplace is becoming flooded with noise. When audiences have so much content to choose from, it can be difficult to cut through and tell a captivating story. 

Driving authenticity with digital storytelling technology

Succeeding at digital storytelling can be challenging, as brands must avoid pitfalls and deliver content that is timely, authentic, effectively distributed and refined.

One of the ways to achieve this is to take a newsroom approach. Journalists have a great sense of how to tell stories, so it can help to adopt the processes of the newsroom of a digital publication—whether you're a media company or a corporate brand. A tool that enables the newsroom approach is a central place to develop and distribute content, and assign ownership and workflows. 

Internal workflow and collaboration tools like the ones offered through Brightspot also empower the voices of the internal subject matter experts who may be on your team. In our recent webinar on communication strategies and shifts during the pandemic, Johnson & Johnson's Carrie Sloan pointed to the need to offer transparency and accuracy by bringing the company's community of scientific experts to the fore. In one example, Johnson & Johnson took their scientists from "behind the microscope and put them in front of the microphone," demonstrating a clear need for authenticity and trust in corporate communications as it relates to getting the facts out about COVID-19.

How Brightspot can elevate your digital storytelling capabilities

Brightspot has worked with some of the world’s leading media brands on their CMS, and has translated this experience into a top solution with many capabilities enabling brands to tell their stories through:

  • Quick launch capabilities: It's possible to launch content quickly and make updates as needed with Brightspot. Changes in strategy, recent trends and news can all be woven in to keep up with shifting narratives or a new message a brand hopes to get out to market fast.
  • Integration-ready solutions: Brightspot was built integration-ready with other platforms so you can maintain your normal workflow and interoperability.
  • Consistent output: From a design consistency standpoint, preconfigured templates and components, as well as configurable photo galleries and graphics, are available. Brightspot's DAM system, Media Desk, gives you a centralized location to organize all assets within the CMS. Consistency is also provided with the ability to contribute content and publish to more than one site from Brightspot. It's possible to deliver optimized and personalized multimedia content to audiences around the globe, in multiple languages, across multiple digital touchpoints.
  • Personalization: Even within digital storytelling, Brightspot allows for personalization and customization. This includes audience-based segmentation and dynamic content curation. Analytics also make it easy to track how and where your content performs best, and can help brands customize content based on differerent user patterns.
  • Worflows and collaboration: To enable teams to effectively work on digital storytelling, Brightspot has strong collaborative tools that make it possible to track every step of the editorial process from a single location. The process is streamlined by removing IT from the day-to-day by enabling marketing and editorial teams to do simple customization themselves, including the creation of customized workflows, content templates and user roles.

As competition for consumers' attention and dollars intensifies, brands know they can stand out by telling great stories through content. It can be challenging to convey a cohesive story to various audiences across digital platforms, which is why having the right technology partner is key. Using a CMS with a newsroom approach enables brand storytelling now and can meet evolving customer expectations. 

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