a recap of my digital storytelling presentation at the SIA Snow Show

Two weekends ago, on February 1st, I was lucky enough to speak at the 2014 SIA Snow Show in downtown Denver.  Specifically, I was lucky enough to speak about something I am passionate about, and have been involved with for several years: digital storytelling.  Also, I spent the better part of just over three years in the ski industry – so it was fun on a personal level to be back in that environment talking about content specific to the snow sports world.

When I say the phrase “digital storytelling” a lot of people immediately assume that just means films or documentaries, as those are some of the truest forms of “storytelling.” However, when I talk about it I am referring to your brand’s visual tale, utilizing social media in a digitally connected world. The focus was on everyday social content and the strategy behind it.

“Visual is the language of social content.”

That was the first of my two most important points that I touched on. We’re seeing it across the board on social platforms – visual elements are the priority. Twitter is auto-embedding larger images into its feed, Facebook is putting more weight than ever to photos from brands (albeit in the midst of a hack job to overall organic reach), Google+ now allows full zoom and photo editing within the platform, then you have Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Pinterest, We Heart It, and many more. They are all visual. It’s how users consume content in 2014, and its how brands communicate their stories to said users.

Good 1

The crowd was made up of snow sports industry marketing professionals, which was a mixture of retail and mountain brands, and a few that were simply interested in the topic.

A “story” for your brand could be as concise as one photo, a short-format video, an album, or could be as big as a full-feature video, blog, or multi-platform content campaign. There is no formula that defines exactly what a story should be, especially about your specific brand. Your strategy and meaning behind what you’re presenting is what makes it a story worth consuming.

“It impacts us emotionally.”

My second hardest hitting point was directed at creating actual meaning and brand connection through your content, so users will think of your brand in a deeper way as opposed to just trying to get them to generate often-meaningless stats with the “Like” button, for example.  We want Good 2them coming back for more, telling their friends about your brand, thinking about your brand randomly while offline – not just clicking something because we begged them to.  The ‘important’ stats of the last few years such as likes, comments, and favorites only tell a small part of the success story today. Data is smarter now. Brands are smarter. Reporting tools are getting smarter. Brands should look to discover what those stats mean for their brand; where the conversation is happening, who is talking about them and how, what the overall buzz is about, and how they can capitalize on all of it.

I also provided my four big things to consider when building out a social content strategy:

  1. Goal

  2. Audience

  3. Channel

  4. Story

Assuming a brand has no real content strategy in place, starting from zero, if you look at these from a high level you should be able to define what you want to achieve with your content, who you are trying to share it with, how and where you want to reach people, and last of all – what you are trying to tell about your brand.  It won’t always be in this order, and that’s fine, but this is a good place to start.

In an age of tons of noise, the best content wins.  To build on that, if you put content out there with no real strategy behind it, you are just adding to that noise.

Give your audience and community something meaningful. Tell them a story.

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