The latest Adobe study has shown that almost 75 per cent of APAC marketers said their priority was to strengthen their digital marketing content strategy, compared to a mere 36 per cent in the previous year. Such a shift in focus calls immediate attention to the need to think creatively about how such goals can be achieved.
So how do brands engage increasingly impatient consumers, for whom the next piece of content is just a click or swipe away?
The art of storytelling is an age-old tradition which has strong roots in the heritage of all countries and communities—having evolved from the oral tradition, storytelling has kept its value and relevance throughout the ages. Yes, the format and exposition may have changed (we are more likely to read a story on our kindle than to listen to one being told around a campfire) but our enjoyment of stories remains strong.
When we think about why storytelling has such power and engagement potential, we realise that it’s less about the specific information being imparted and more about the structure and process by which that information in shared. By tapping into such techniques, APAC marketers can use storytelling to strengthen the authenticity of their 'voice' and increase the impact of their communications.
As any parent will tell you, sharing a story with your child is a fantastic way to build your relationship with them as well as help mould the way they see and understand the world. Brands that are able to communicate their message through the art of storytelling rather than by simply communicating information, will therefore likely build a better, stronger and more lasting relationship with their consumers.
The added bonus being that people generally remember stories far better than they remember more static information. Stories are, as the tradition has taught us, designed to be shared, giving further credence to the important role storytelling can play in digital marketing and content strategies.
KFC's ‘Great Divide’ campaign is a brilliant example of the effective use of storytelling to communicate a brand message. Not primarily associated with vegetarian cuisine, KFC wanted to highlight the lengths it takes to make sure veg and non-veg menu options are prepared entirely separately of one another. The ad tells the story of two burgers, a ‘charming chicken zinger’ and a ‘dreamy paneer zinger’—who are very much in love, but separated by circumstance and physical barriers. This amusing and engaging story communicates a clear and effective message, using storytelling to ensure the satisfaction of KFC’s vegetarian customers by sharing a serious message in a lighthearted way.
Lifebuoy applied similar storytelling techniques in a series of content videos aimed at encouraging children to wash their hands more often. The strategy: Make it fun. Lifebuoy ingeniously created a colour-changing handwash, which turns green after 10 seconds. The more you scrub, the greener the lather becomes and of course, the more germs you kill. The brand cleverly communicated this message in a series of animated stories called, ‘Bollywood Shake’, ‘Hulk, Power, Smash’ and ‘Cricket Champ’, transforming hand washing from a boring obligation to an action-packed challenge.
From a B2B perspective, IBM, which has invested heavily in its content-marketing strategy, created IBMblr, a content partnership between Tumblr and IBM designed to showcase IBM’s research innovations by sharing stories, GIFs and insights about the brand. IBMblr is a great example of authentic and effective content marketing, challenging the norms of more traditional IT-related blogs and allowing wide engagement via the ease of sharability of its content.
Google’s Think Quarterly is another excellent example of how to use storytelling to create engaging content. Each publication has a different overall focus and is designed to challenge our thinking as well as to impart stories, insights and knowledge. Although the booklets are only sent out to a limited number of Google’s partners, the content is freely accessible online and a perfect way to catch up on what’s been happening and why it matters. Think Quarterly is effectively, though subtly, a business storytelling strategy, but one with huge relevance and value to a wider audience. This month’s issue focuses on ‘openness’ and the importance of embracing digital in order to create the best campaigns. Vital to this is the role of social media, of which storytelling is a huge part—storytelling being both inherently social as well as one of the most effective ways of sharing information.
Whichever form your content marketing takes, it’s important to pose and answer the same questions: Why do I care? Why do I share?
Amy Lavalette heads up Evidently Asia