Some argue digital has allowed brands to tell innovative stories to the audience, whereas a handful says technology has really killed storytelling. So is digital a friend or a foe for storytellers?
Deliberating on this aspect at Kyoorius Melt, a two-day conference in its fifth edition, a panel of industry stalwarts discussed if digital has really killed storytelling. Moderated by Anant Rangaswami, Editor, CNBC TV18, the panel comprised Siddharth Banerjee, Director, Global Sales Organisation, Facebook India; Amarjit Singh Batra, Managing Director, Spotify India and PG Aditiya, Executive Creative Director, Webchutney. The panel discussed how the diverse audience base has given a push to content marketing and influencers for telling compelling stories on behalf of brands.
Batra opened the floor, saying it is not like good story crafters have died but there are fundamental requirements for being on a digital platform, which are to be adapted by storytellers.
Adding, Banerjee said, “Brands need to hold for a bit that the rules of the game have changed. There are restrictions of telling resonating stories within 10-15 seconds. The platform has changed and if we don't adapt to the new rules as an ecosystem, obviously, there will be some winners and some losers.”
Tagging technology as a friend, Aditiya said, “Being a friend, you have to understand the friend. The only people who are crying out loud, saying digital has killed storytelling, are the storytellers who are getting killed by digital.”
Living in an ecosystem that now is based on technology, it becomes somehow imperative for agencies or brands to adapt to the new set of rules of the game of digital as a platform. In fact, digital presents the playbook on how to best utilise the platform, enhancing storytelling. The digital platform offers metrics on how consumers are consuming content in what format or through which channel.
“Great storytelling is enabled by understanding what consumers are doing, where consumers are watching content, etc. And if the consumer’s attention is now splintered across devices, and primarily gathered on mobile phone, it behoves marketers, creative agencies, partners, to look at building muscles for communicating in a mobile world,” said Banerjee.
Facebook through the ‘Creative Playground’ calls all the agencies to participate in contests where they have to write short stories that can be told in 10 seconds.
Brands need to rescan themselves, work with partners, and look at all the opportunities that digital has presented. Rangaswami said the problems are not with digital but with the storytelling part, since technology is the handmaiden of creativity.
Enhancing the storytelling, digital has given brands and agencies the options which no more restrict the way of communication. Storytellers need to get the best tools whether they are online or offline for the communication.
“Digital does not stop great storytellers from figuring out a great interesting idea in which enough people would be interested. So it's the core idea that matters, and then you can apply it on any right platform,” he added.
The audience today is dispersed on multiple platforms. Since the base of the audience is large and dispersed, multiple times brands end up communicating stories in the same way, losing out on distinctiveness, Batra said. He advised brands to first understand the audience and then to tell the story to make the communication more efficient.
He said since audiences run away from stories presented to them as a direct advertisement, content marketing has become fundamental part.
Adding, Aditiya said, “Influencers are also one good way to tell your story without it making look like an ad. Facebook and Instagram have called out on the influencers, because of the paid partnership they were doing like any other commercial.”
With mobile and digital, everybody is a storyteller, including influencers. So the question is how does a piece of story stand out? Batra called this a challenge of quality versus quantity.
Asked about the benchmark for a good story, Aditiya said, “The recipe of a good story over the years of all creative minds has remained the same. There has to be an idea first, that would move you emotionally resonating with the audience. Then make sure the story has ABCD: Attention, Branding, Communication and Distinctiveness.”