When it comes to digital communications, some of the most important concepts to remember are to know your target audience, listen to them, and become a storyteller for your brand. Always remember that the way you tell your brand’s story must be interesting, captivating, and unique!
Storytelling is important for creating great digital content because it shows a passion for your brand and people are able to relate to your content, and your brand more easily. Storytelling is often inspiring and captivating so people will listen and want to know more. This will help you build a community for your brand.
I currently work for the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, managing their social media. As such, my content will be guided by story by sharing the stories of all the churches within the Diocese. Each week I will be speaking with the clergy and lay leaders of a different church and begin telling the world each church’s story. I will share their history, as well as talk about their new outreach ministries, and how they are helping their individual communities, especially during the pandemic year. This will allow people to relate and see the churches as more than just buildings. This will help show the true passion of the people inside each of those buildings.
Storytelling is the foundation of digital communications. It is who we are, what we do, and how we do it. This is the important information we need to be sharing. Storytelling allows people to understand and feel your story. When you tell your story, people will begin to walk your brand’s story with you.
Throughout the past few weeks, this course, Digital Communication, has put an emphasis on the importance of good storytelling. When creating digital content, it is important to be able to communicate your message in a clear, concise manner which will attract viewers to your post. Studies have shown that people are more likely to trust and follow someone who shares their personal story, as this demonstrates vulnerability. This is especially important when managing a business (whether it is becoming a full-time blogger, Instagramer, or a traditional product selling company), as people will trust and invest more into companies which have a face, and story they can relate too rather than a faceless corporation.
When I’ve started this programme, I wanted to learn more about social media in general, I didn’t really have an exact goal in mind. I just thought that it might be useful knowledge which I could probably apply in my future career. Having a background in film means that I am very familiar with storytelling and its importance. However, I was always studying other people’s stories, and the socio-cultural repercussions of those stories. I have not put a lot of thought into my personal story, and how (should I have a business) I would create content guided by my story, or even what type of stories I wanted to share.
In the past, inserting my experiences into my content was something I avoided at all cost, for two reasons. First, my texts were academic papers and while I did have colleagues who did write about their personal experiences, I felt uncomfortable doing so, and preferred to remain distanced from my writing. Second, adding personal experiences to those texts involved demonstrating vulnerability, which I was not ready to do. However, upon reflection of my learnings in this course, adding personal details into a text, whether it be a story from your past or sharing your favourite ice cream company, allows you to connect with others through shared experiences. While I want to continue to work in film, open dialogues about film, and share the stories told through this medium, I think remembering to open up the discussion through shared experiences will be important, as it will encourage others to share and get involved as well.
Between mid-May and early July 2020, I took a Digital Communication course at the Algonquin College. Here is my brief reflection on what I learnt in the course.
Stories make great content
There is a lot of information in the digital world. An average social media user is bombarded by thousands of various messages as soon as they go on any online platform. If you want your message and content to stand out, you need to tell powerful stories. You also need to do so in your unique and authentic voice.
Stories shape content into something that resonates with audiences. A story provides content with a natural flow, from a beginning to an end. In doing so, stories give digital content a form that most people are wired to follow.
Stories help you explain what makes your business or organization unique, and they do so in a compelling way.
Every story needs an audience
In crafting digital content, it is important to know who its audience is. In modern multicultural societies, audiences are bound to be culturally diverse. Therefore, it is important to understand the various groups within your target audiences and to ensure that your messages resonate with all of these groups.
When you know who exactly you are targeting with the content, it is much easier to decide what kind of stories you want to tell and how you want to tell them. Stories will guide your content.
Storytelling is already helping me in my job. I use stories to communicate important digital safety messages to audiences that are not likely to pay attention to information conveyed in a different way.
And what kind of stories are you telling? Does your audience find these stories compelling? Let me know in the comments below.
Have you ever had that feeling, your heading home, and you zone out, you are just a passive passenger along for the ride in your own body?
Suddenly, you’re at your destination, and you don’t quite remember all the details on how you got there. Some specifics sure; you stopped at that red light, the music playing in the background; when it was catchy. But for the most part the journey was a haze as you thought about your day gone by, the day coming tomorrow, the weekend coming up, or, nothing much at all.
When this happens to me I often think of a quote, that, while I have never actually read any of Ursula K Le Guin’s work (something I mean to rectify), has always stuck with me:
“It’s good to have an end to journey towards, but it’s the journey that matters in the end.” (Ursula K Le Guin, 1969 The Left Hand of Darkness)
When the daily rush of normal life came crashing to a halt in mid-March, I had this exact same feeling. Don’t get me wrong, the place where I find myself is an absolute paradise; married to the man of my dreams, beautiful home, adorable puppy, the most amazing circle of family and friends a person could ask for and a great job. I know how fortunate I am, there are no complaints here, only an attempt at growth.
As I adapted to this new normal, I felt a shift, an awakening within me of imaginings and interests that I had forgotten. Curiosities, that have been left in a pile at the edge of the desk and then, slowly, over the years, scooped into boxes and placed in the dusty corners of my mind.
I am a dreamy kind of wanderer, I always have been. Happy to float from place to place with no real goal other than to see where it leads. At least, I used to be.
I never really had a clear answer for that age old chestnut; “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I clearly remember being confused about this question at one particular family gathering. How was I, at the age of ten, supposed to know what I was going to do with my life? I was ten, what did I know of the world? I pointed that out and received an uncomfortable silence from my adult audience and a pat on the head, followed by, “You really need to give it some thought.” So, I settled on Vet. It was easy, I love animals and it appeared that Vet was a lofty enough goal that it would elicit sounds of approval from the gathered adults.
My true, secret goals were vague; to travel, to go on adventures, to fall madly in love. But society loves clarity, loves direct and clear goals, an end in sight, in a straight line. At least, that is what I was taught:
Graduate high school
Go on to Post-Secondary studies
Meet Significant other
Graduate Post-Secondary studies
Land the job of your dreams in your chosen field, immediately
There is nothing wrong with any of these goals. In fact, I ticked a fair number off that list, but I did them the windy way, the way that worked for me. Much to the chagrin of my straight edged and very direct Mother.
I enjoyed pulling on threads of interest and seeing what was at the end of them. Something that I used to constantly apply to my life. I’d see something of interest, wander over, experience it and either wander back or see where it took me. Some would call that aimless drifting, I was taught that society would call that lost, but, in the wise words of Tolkien “Not all those who wander are lost…” (Tolkien,1977, p. 202) I may not have a clear end goal and I may be taking a winding and roaming route, but for me at least, that was fulfilling.
Somewhere though, I took a wrong turn. I pulled on a thread of curiosity and found myself stuck in the mud. Which is the danger inherent in any decision.
Other people’s truths became my own, the imagined yard-stick by which society measures life’s milestones somehow found its way into my inner sanctum. I had checked off some of the markers, yes, but it wasn’t enough. There were more to check off and time was short, the yard-stick only goes to thirty and I was well beyond that. My curiosity became a hindrance, my desire to walk to the next corner and see what was there became a weakness. I lost sight of the journey and tried to force myself into a mindset that has never truly been my own. To see the goal with clarity and walk straight at it pursuing it at all costs. Never mind the emotional toll of not being true to myself. Never mind the destructive effects of obsessing over the future and trying to see what was coming, while all the time standing still. Because no matter how much you hammer at it, a square peg is never going to fit into a round hole.
Would I go back and change that decision? No. I believe that every choice has value, whether it leads to success or failure. It is what we do with the lessons we have learned that are important. Even if it takes a while for the lesson to really sink in.
And so, it was in this constant state of frustration, that I ran head first into the huge stop sign that this global pandemic has placed in the way.
Out of something truly scary, truly terrible and wrought with uncertainty and fear for the future, I have found my breath, and I know that I am absolutely lucky to be in this position. This forced pause from the daily routine has allowed me to take stock of the destination I find myself at. After years of hazy travelling, it has allowed me to recognize that I have, actually, achieved all the goals that I held close to my heart growing up. I have traveled, I have been on so many adventures and I have fallen madly, ecstatically in love. I am right where I want to be.
Sure, I succumbed to the perceived pressures of everyday society, that yard-stick has poked holes in my unwavering belief that everything will in fact be OK; that I am enough, that it is the journey and not just the goal that matters.
I feel my curiosity returning, new goals have arisen from the dusty corners of my mind; can I learn to write effectively and do it well? Can I learn to draw well, sew the clothes that I daydream about, can I learn to write music? In the simplest terms, can I be creative? Something that didn’t fit the narrative given to me by the rigid hallways of the education system I grew up in, or the narrow focus of my mother’s self-hating view of me.
I see new possibilities and new winding paths to charge headlong down. I will gather the tools that will help me focus, learn and grow. Over the next few posts, I’ll explore what it means to me, to awaken and reassert my weird and quirky self. How I am teaching myself to ignore the ingrained negative self-perceptions and silence those voices that tell me to conform.
I didn’t graduate high-school on time with my peers, choosing instead to change all my subjects halfway through my final years; I picked my post-secondary studies out of a coffee cup filled many choices and I’ve never had a clear goal of what my career should look like, other than it should have many twists and turns, filled with interesting experiences.
I am in my mid-late thirties and according to those external perceived pressures, I should be done and set on my path. And yet, I’ve achieved everything I have ever set my mind to by taking the road less traveled and enjoying each winding route. I’d like to reclaim that mindset.
So, now the blinkers are off, the fog has been blown away and I am awake again. We get one shot at this amazing journey called life and I’m not going to allow myself to fall back on old habits. I’ll gather tools to my side, I’ll inflict my terrible writing and rambling thoughts on anyone who will willingly (or coerced) read it, I’m looking at you fellow classmates! And I’ll see where this new path leads!
Care to join me on my wanderings? Maybe we’ll find something magical!
For Facebook – I wrote a blog post on what this moment in time means to me and how I am working towards personal growth. Freeing myself from perceived social pressures about life and how we measure our value and success on this journey. An exercise in self-reflection-what this moment means to me. https://bit.ly/2ys2Vg6
After analyzing my skillset from beginning to end in this course, it became glaringly obvious that there were some gaps in my abilities to effectively convey a story to an audience. Using my newfound knowledge, I am able to quickly identify my target audience and implement an appropriate communication style that will reach them in the right way. To elaborate, using demographics and psychographics, I can make assumptions about those I am communicating to and will tweak my strategy of conveying message based on my findings.
Why is storytelling crucial to creating great Digital content?
Whether it be in person, online and numerous other mechanisms of storytelling, you are always trying to sell people on an idea and have to implement the right strategy in order to get them interested. When approaching a story in person, there are many factors that differ compared to digital content. You can see peoples reaction, make judgement based on these findings, and therefore create your story based on what works. With digital content, you are making an assumption about those who you are telling a story to and have much less to work with. Often with digital content you must be overly cautious of the things you say in order to not offend any group you are trying to reach. For example, when creating great digital content that on the political spectrum, it is much to do prior research and analysis to determine if your target audience leans more left or right. Through this research, you can then tailor a story that will appeal to the group you are reaching and do not risk offending as many people. The creation of great content takes lots of trial and error but is certainly possible with the right amount of effort.
How will your content be guided by story?
Content is guided by story no matter what approach you take. Think about companies who are selling a product and provide a backstory or use a tag such as “Established in 1942.” These are all part of telling the story in order to intrigue consumers into buying something you are selling. Whether it is a social media outlet, a business, a Facebook group, or any sort of digital platform, you ability to succeed and stand out from others depends on your ability to tell a story effectively. Look at Twitter as an example. Everyone has the same amount of characters per tweet to convey a message and get people interested in what they are selling. However, we can see that some people are able to thrive on this platform while others have issues with the restrictive threshold of words. I always despise the posts with 10+ “tweets”, assuming that I will ever take the time to read through all of them to understand a message they’re putting forward. I believe the restrictive nature of Twitter is one of the best aspects of the platform given it forces people to tell their story in a a very brief manner. Those who thrive are always the ones who grab their target audience’s attention quickly and get to their point immediately.
What kind of stories do you want to tell?
After rambling on about people who do not tell stories quickly enough, I realized that I am already over the word count, so I will keep this brief. The types of stories I will tell depend entirely on the audience at hand and the message I am trying to convey. One of the most crucial parts of thriving online is adaptability and I believe that this is a skill we are always working on. Hopefully with more practice I am able to pinpoint my skillsets with online storytelling and will learn to cut down on unnecessary words. For now, I am simply trying to learn more about myself and tell my stories thus far on experiences I’ve had over my short lifetime. This course has been fantastic for self-introspection and I believe I learned a lot about who I am as a storyteller throughout it.
In today’s day and age where multitasking is the new norm it can be difficult to manage our time effectively. We can be consumed by having so much to do in such a little amount of time that any tools which can help us select and analyze the information we need most are extremely useful.
Whether it’s using these tools for your own personal brand or for social media strategies in a business, the main goal is to minimize stress.
Think of it like yoga for the body. We can stretch our muscles and sharpen out focus, self-reflect upon what’s working for us and what we could improve upon. Just like these tools help us organize our thoughts by scheduling posts, and seeing what can be done better through analytics, it’s important to use these tools properly to get the most out of them.
So what tools are most useful?
Google Alerts is great. I can use it to monitor the web for topics that interest me, like keeping an eye on digital marketing and public relations key words as those are the career paths I am pursuing.
I like that I can tailor my search results and listen to what trends are changing to stay on top of social media trends related to business.
I like Buffer because it’s simple. I know a lot of people who praise Hootsuite as the end-all for social media scheduling and monitoring, and I do find it great when managing multiple platforms at once, but I prefer the streamlined interface of Buffer more user-friendly for personal use of just my own accounts.
I found an interesting article comparing the two here, which points out the different features each has to offer in case anyone was curious.
Simply scheduling my posts and having analytics which show me basic engagement is enough for now, though I would consider adding Hootsuite as a complementary feature.
Aside from listening and monitoring tools, we also gather our precious news from many different sources that best suit our needs.
I love Facebook because it not only acts as an access point for communicating with my friends and family, but also is a great feed of news updates depending on whom you follow.
I personally like to go to Facebook for my motivational updates. I follow pages like Inc. Magazine, which shows ways to better improve yourself and bring success to things you do, and Girls LOVE Travel®, which is a community of women from all over the world who talk about their adventures and ask for advice.
On top of motivational pages, I can get my daily news from places like CNN or the Ottawa Citizen, which keeps me informed on what’s happening in the world.
In contrast to Facebook, I like to use Instagram for more creative purposes.
Since I am into fashion and would like to work with environmentally-conscious brands in the future, I follow many on Instagram to get a better understanding of international brands that maintain my interests.
A couple of the pages I regularly check on for news include Global Fashion Exchange, a page focused on news relating to sustainability in fashion, and LONDRĖ Bodywear, a Canadian brand that I love which makes swimwear out of recycled water bottles.
Having interests in photography also makes this an excellent source as it presents information largely through images which can sometimes be more powerful, and more concise, than articles themselves.
With all of the different news sources available today, it can be overwhelming to try to consume so much at once. What is your favourite news source or monitoring tool that keeps you sane? Please let me know!
Storytelling is one of the key pieces of the pie to creating successful digital communication. Your storytelling must engage and draw your desired audience to want more. It is a major building block for starting a relationship with the targeted audience and also to gain more followers to spread your story throughout the social media world.
There are many factors to consider when storytelling. Demographics play a very important role whether it be gender, age, income or even personal interest. One key element is to match your type of transaction to your potential client. There are three basic classes, starting with B2C which is your business directly to the regular everyday consumer on the street. The other classes are B2B meaning business to another business along with B2G business to government. You must research continuously for your target audience in order to keep updated with changes.
When composing a story you must make your audience want to read more and to provide enthusiasm in order for them to ask questions, making them feel a part of your writing. Listening is another major component and is a necessity in order to have a story line that flows naturally along with the style and message you want to relay. Stories can be used for many purposes whether it be marketing your business or product to a personal story about what you did on your last vacation.
Consistency can make or break a terrific story but always remember, no two people relate exactly to the same story. Some view the glass as half empty while others see it as being half full!
What makes great digital content? It certainly isn’t page after page of marketing copy, full of buzzwords like “synergy” or “optimization”; nor is it the incoherent ramblings of Grandpa Simpson jumping from topic to topic, boring the life out of his audience. That’s not to say that he is completely wrong with his approach; storytelling is a great technique for connecting with your audience, as long as you do it right.
To make sure that you are telling your audience the right stories, you need to know a little about them first. This doesn’t mean just finding out basic demographics like age, income, gender, etc., but also lifestyle choices, hobbies, and other preferences. From a business perspective, you also need to know what type of clients you have; are you targeting consumers directly, or business/government clients? Knowing this will impact your approach.
Even after you have discovered some of our audiences’ unique traits, there are some general rules to follow when it comes to great storytelling; always speak/write in an active voice; it is clearer, and by nature is more engaging. It’s also important to write how you speak – keep the flow natural, and don’t be afraid to use colloquialisms, as long as it is appropriate for your audience.
Ultimately the story you tell is yours, but it is up to you to figure out the best way to communicate it to your audience. However it may look, make sure the style, formatting, and message is consistent across platforms, and over time – Make sure you have your own identity, and communicate it to your audience. Be it a personal blog, or a marketing strategy research is your friend. Once you’ve decided who your audience is, and the best approach for reaching them, the rest is up to you to let your creativity flow.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the good, the bad, the less-than-stellar, the fugly…and every shade of colour under the sun.
Words are forever on the lips and hearts of the future…
My story *is* my brand. My words illustrating the made-for-tv-movie kind’o’life that is being a chronic disease patient in the throes of the managing my own little part in the Cosmos. Readers come for the coffee, stay for the story. The challenge has been to stifle the “societal norms of blogging” that tell me to write clean and proper. I’ve undertaken to write my journey, my stories, as real, raw and authentic as they are, because that is a true to form reflection of what life is all about.
Transparency has been key, and, to be honest, is really, *really*, nerve-wracking. I’ve written about my journey through mental health issues, some very significant. I’ve written about a recent physical assault in order to provide a voice to those who may not find their own. I’ve ALSO written about one of my twin boys having pooped in a floor vent when he was four years old, about my healing through art projects and about my passion for playing video games and how I totally suck, but enjoy the escapism nonetheless. It has been this very transparency upon which I’ve built and solidified my brand. Lupus Interrupted IS “Me.” on every level. It’s how I am viewed not only as a blog, but as a person. I have never split up my personalities in order to conform to one view of norms over another dependent on location. I believe this is the fodder for becoming legendary.
The deep, wide angled view of my world.
This is what resonates with people. How one crafts their story within the context of their journey. This particular course has been a validation that what I endeavour to craft is, in fact, on the right track in making those connections with people and of inter-personal engagement. My use of my own personally crafted catch-isms (like #gladitude) and phrases are validated when I see my friends post them on their own walls and tweets.
Stories live forever. Digital communication is merely one medium of recording what it is that we’re trying to say. I want to say it all by living the way I write, and writing the way I live.
As I begin to reflect from the past two or three months from taking Digital Communication, as part of Algonquin College’s Social Media certificate online program, I have to say, I have learned a lot about many key elements in communicating within the digital realm.
In today’s age, it’s not just about pitching products, and hope that people will buy them. Rather there is many levels.
One important level, is understanding oneself as a personal brand. A personal brand is important. Whether it’s looking for a job, or being a solopreneur (starting a sole proprietorship by yourself), you are the face of everything!! How will people know you? Will they know you as the nice person? Will they know as the determined person? A smart and shy person, or outgoing and brash? Without a recognizable personal brand, it becomes literally hard to stand out from the crowd in the sea of the World Wide Web.
On the flip side, understanding demographics, trends, and respecting other cultures in the age of the global village was the other key lesson from this course. While developing your personal brand is critical, understanding diversity of demographics is critical. Understanding different cultures from different countries, respecting gender equality from both sides, and promoting environmental sustainability are critical ways of influencing yourself as a leader in the age of globalization
Thomas Friedman, author of the 2005 book The World is Flat had this to say regarding globalization:
“Culture is nested in context, not genes.”
Thus in this day in age, everything is about context. We live in a global, digitized culture, where at one end, personal branding is critical in surviving today’s sea, while at the same time, understanding different cultures, and collaborating is equally important in this ubiquitous world.