What is the history of visual narration

From description to narration

Storytelling in the Age of YouTube: The Power of Visual Stories

Storytelling with YouTube. In order to talk about this topic, two questions have to be answered for the first time: What is storytelling? And how and why is it related to YouTube?
Anyone who deals with content marketing cannot ignore the topic of storytelling. Storytelling is a narrative form that is mainly used nowadays in digital media - a modern form of storytelling, so to speak. YouTube is the video portal with over 2 billion logged in users per month and over 500 hours of uploaded video material per minute. YouTube is also a social media platform and, by the way, the second largest search engine in the world.
These numbers alone are probably enough to explain the reason why you should definitely include YouTube in your considerations when engaging in storytelling.
The key word we will come to in this context is: visual storytelling.

Storytelling is not always storytelling
Blogs, social networks, videos: we are surrounded by a multitude of media and a multitude of stories. If you want to score here, you should rely on good storytelling. However, this is not that easy either, as there are no clear, always valid instructions for storytelling. The aim is to create added value with the stories and thus convey content in an appealing way.

But what forms of storytelling are there and how do they differ? Sven-Oliver Funke differentiates in his book “Video is King. Successful online marketing with YouTube "four types of storytelling:
  1. The classic storytelling: Here, stories are told in one unit and, depending on the medium, not modified. An example of this could be a YouTube video that is also used in other media or at the point of sale.
  2. The cross-media storytelling: Stories are adapted to the various media or platforms, but - as in point 1 - always fully told within the medium. Likewise, no novelties are added. An example of this is a video that is written down and published on a blog. The aim is to present the message in different ways and thus reach more people.
  3. The transmedia storytelling: In this form, a story is told across multiple media. Each channel (newspaper ads, YouTube, Facebook & other social networks, billboards, etc.) only tells a part, but contributes to the entire story. However, the user does not have to follow a certain order or a certain path in order to find out the whole story.
  4. The dynamic storytelling: It is still controversial whether this is a separate narrative form. Compared to transmedia storytelling, however, there is one more important aspect: co-creation. The audience itself becomes part of the storytelling.

Storytelling for companies
But why should you care about storytelling as a company?
People don't want to be forced to buy products, they prefer to be entertained. Good storytelling tells stories about people, companies, brands and products, with the aim of winning customers who, at best, will spread the story. If you not only provide information, but also tell interesting stories, you also stand out from the competition - therefore it is a popular and promising tool in content marketing.

Good reasons for storytelling in the business sector:
  • Stories make companies more “tangible”. As a potential customer, you get a better idea of ​​what values ​​a company represents, how products are manufactured and not just about what is offered. People are more likely to buy products or services from brands whose history they know and which they like.
    As Simon Sinek - business consultant and author - used prominent examples in his famous speech at the TEDxPuget Sound conference, customers don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. This is because most of the products are actually interchangeable. Therefore, companies that inspire and excite people are ultimately more successful.
  • You can create a sense of belonging through storytelling. If you show your positive intentions, people can relate to you and stand behind the brand more easily.

Visual storytelling
In the world of storytelling, visual storytelling has another place of its own. Here visual means - photos, videos, animations, etc. - are used to convey emotions. The imagery has a more intense effect than other narrative methods and is easier to remember. “Because we usually only remember 20% of what we read. But up to 80% of what we see. "(Petra Sammer: Storytelling. The future of PR and Marketing, O'Reilly Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Cologne, 1st edition 2014, p. 152) *
Social media is the perfect multiplier for visual stories. And of course, YouTube is right at the forefront.

The spread of mobile devices is constantly increasing, moving pictures are no longer only viewed at home and on TV. Entrepreneurs who want to reach consumers have to tell stories - preferably visual stories, as the demand for moving image content will only increase in the future and the audiovisual character helps to make stories more effective.
In the case of paid advertising, it is often only a few seconds that make the difference between success and failure. Think of YouTube and the advertising that is played before the actual video: after six seconds, the viewer has the option to click away from the commercial and thus increasingly only sees more advertising that he wants to see. Advertising must therefore no longer be what interrupts interesting content, but must become content itself.

But don't just think about advertising. The video platform YouTube is now the second largest search engine in the world: Users search for content in the form of videos as answers to their questions (see tutorials, recipes, etc.). This is a great opportunity for companies and brands to create added value - that is, to entertain with stories and / or to provide useful information.

Tips for getting started in the world of visual stories
If you would like to dare to tackle storytelling now, we have a few more tips for you. First of all, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Who are your customers? What do you wish? What is it that drives you? = Get to know your customers. This is the basis for understanding which stories they might address.
  • Ask yourself what problems customers have when dealing with your or similar products and what solutions you can offer.
  • On which platform is your target group active? No matter what the statistics are, you should post your stories on the channels that are relevant to you.

If you are already sure of the basics and are wondering what the first steps in visual storytelling are, the following list could serve as a common thread.
  • Do you already have ideas for stories? First, ask yourself whether these are even interesting for your target group and whether they fit your company.
  • Is your idea creative or has it been used in exactly this way by competitors?
  • Determine the steps you need to take. For example, do you already have high quality image and video material or do you still have to have it made?
  • What do you want to say with your story and how do you want the viewer to feel after watching the video? Define the message you want your narration to convey and the overall mood of the video.
  • The viewer must be able to identify - with the message, a main character or your values. Do not forget this aspect.
  • Set the length of the video. A mundane tip: keep it short. Visual stories should be long enough to get the message across, but short enough to keep the audience's attention. Depending on the channel, slightly different “rules” apply, but always keep in mind the increasingly shorter attention spans of Internet users.
  • Include a clear request or CTA at the end of the video (e.g. learn more, visit website, share video ...).
  • Videos on social media channels are often watched without sound. Therefore, they should be understandable without the spoken part or contain subtitles if the spoken part is essential.
  • Experiment, try different stories and formats. Evaluate data and feedback and change your approach if necessary.

Last specific tips for your business storytelling:
  • Identify your founding story and think about whether and how you could tell it.
  • Which parts of your company could you communicate in an interesting way thanks to storytelling? Company values, a look behind the scenes, production, employees ...?
  • Budgets for productions are smaller than before (see TV spots) and content has to be created in a shorter time, but that doesn't mean that it is less creative. The type of production should, however, adapt to the faster pace of the present.
  • The following elements can help to keep the audience's attention: create tension, use empathy or take the audience on a meaningful journey (entertain, inform, motivate or inspire with your narration).

teamblau can advise you on the use of social media and help you to integrate it into your online marketing strategy.

* https://www.seokratie.de/visual-storytelling/

Sources (as of May 12, 2020)
Sven-Oliver Funke, “Video is king. Successful Online Marketing With YouTube ”, Chapter 4: The Storytelling
Creatoracademy.youtube.com, "Unleash the power of storytelling for your nonprofit"
Thinkwithgoogle.com, "Storytelling for the YouTube Generation"
Filmora.io, "Top 3 Storytelling Techniques for YouTube"
blogs.adobe.com, "Narrative Storytelling on YouTube"
seokratie.de, "Visual Storytelling: 5 Tips & Best Practice Examples for Your Story Universe"
digital-coach.it, "Come fare storytelling: Guida Completa"
thinkwithgoogle.com, "Creativity in constraint: Unlock new forms of video storytelling with 6-second YouTube bumper ads"
Blog.hootsuite.com, "23 YouTube Statistics that Matter to Marketers in 2020"
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