Authentic Storytelling in the Digital World


Since before the written word was invented, storytelling has been used to help us understand and connect to the world. From the bedtime stories we’re told as children to the news articles we read today, we’ve been consuming stories our entire lives. When we interact with a brand online, we expect to learn their story as well.

In order to connect to customers on an emotional level, brands need to base their communications around authentic storytelling. This occurs when a brand’s narrative represents real human experiences, rather than contrived situations or scripted endorsements. By sharing their stories in an authentic way, using the right digital media and platforms to enhance their message, brands can build customer trust and inspire action.

Tell your real story

The key to successful storytelling is authenticity. Earlier this year, we looked at methods of leveraging customer feedback to embolden the consumer voice in brand narratives. Involving the content and perspective of consumers is a great way to tell more authentic stories. But there are other ways brands can weave authentic storytelling throughout their wider engagement strategy. While striking images and video tend to be engaging for viewers, truly powerful stories reach a customer emotionally, and connect to their humanity, values, and experiences.

Use digital to tell your story in a more engaging way

Brands have tremendous opportunities to tell better stories in more engaging ways. With practically limitless digital options, a brand could, for example, use augmented reality to enhance the user experience, making activities more memorable and more interactive.

National Geographic, well known for their incredible storytelling capability, has found creative ways to make social media part of their mission. Via various digital mediums, National Geographic tells the same story in different ways to reach a wider audience of people. This can take the form of an immersive 360° video or a striking piece of user-generated content featured on their community channels.

Adapt your story to the platform

Many people believe that storytelling is the future of social media, and platforms are continuing to add features that make sharing stories even easier.

Brands that tell engaging stories through their social content are able to attract and engage customers in a deeper way, reaching a wider audience. For example, a snack company might publish a series of features highlighting the chefs who design their snacks or a time lapse of how the snack is baked. A women’s rights nonprofit could share the specific events they’ve organized or profile the people who motivated them to found the organization.

At its core, brand storytelling is about more than the stories you’re telling. It’s about using those stories to drive a message and build stronger connections with your community and customers. In a world where consumer engagement is becoming increasingly immersive and interactive, digital media allows brands to explore the best ways to tell their stories — and for customers to feel like more than purchasers.